How old were you when you started dancing?

I started immersing myself in dance my sophomore year of high school at Lick-Wilmerding. There was a dance elective class that met every other day, which provided a space for students to learn fundamentals of different styles of dance, experiment with choreography, construct a piece with blocking, lighting, staging, etc. Most of my dancing was self taught during these early stages of dance.

What/ Who inspired you to start dancing?

Watch Brian Puspos YouTube videos in 8th grade going into high school inspired me the most to start dancing. I did attend a dance concert at my high school, which also pushed me to join the dance community in high school. Seeing concept videos and pieces of choreography on YouTube was definitely enough to push me to make dance videos as well.

What type of dance did you do when you started?

I would consider the type of dance I started off with and still continue to immerse myself with is urban hip hop. Along the way, I’ve tried to ground my knowledge and movement in fundamentals of dance such as housing, locking, grooving, etc. I’m currently most inspired and influenced by The Company, an urban dance competition team from Daly City. In addition, there are a handful of dancers from other teams that I “study” to grow in textures of my movement. One of these dancers are Deziree Del Rosario from the competition team 220 located in San Diego.

How old are you now and what are you doing with dance?

I’m currently 20 years old and I’m a junior at UC Berkeley. In terms of dance, I’ve taken a step back from the competitive scene, and instead I’ve been dancing with exhibition teams in Berkeley as well as taking dance workshops around the Bay Area. I’ve thought of myself as “training” over the past year, which to me involves freestyling by myself as well as with new and different movers. I’ve been making dance videos since high school, and I hope to continue releasing more videos to share my art. My goal is to usually release at least one video per academic semester. I’ve taught a couple of dance workshops this past year, and I’m looking to teach more in the Bay Area!

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

I see myself still dancing for sure. I hope to be on a team outside of the Berkeley scene just because I’ve been in Berkeley’s community for quite a while. In addition to dance, I’m passionate about education, so I hope to be working with schools and/or communities to empower young minds to continue doing what they’re passionate about. I believe that I will expand my network of dancers in 5 years, so hopefully I will continue to make more videos with new people.

Who are the top 3 dancers/people that inspire you?

I’ve said this earlier but:

  1. The Company - They represent the Bay Area strongly at huge dance competitions, and they’re dance style is personally my favorite. I’ve met a lot of their dancers, and they are so genuine and talented. They are super clean and always seem to be growing at an insane rate.

  2. Deziree Del Rosario (220 Second to None) - Her movement is super dope. I would describe her texture as soft and silky. I have watched her pieces numerous times, and finally got a chance to take another dance workshop from her recently. She’s definitely one of my biggest inspirations, and hopefully I can learn from her again.

  3. 220 - Words can’t really explain how much I appreciate their movement as a team, but all I could say they’re the perfect balance of swag, cleanliness and performance. If I lived in SD, I would totally try my best to take workshops from these dancers. I would recommend to check out their sets on YouTube!

List all your biggest achievements

  1. My first semester at Cal I made it on a competitive team (AFX Comp), and that year was the first time we placed 2nd at a competition.

  2. I lead and taught multiple workshops and pieces for multiple teams in Berkeley and around the Bay Area (i.e. UC Davis, Stanford).

  3. My YouTube channel has been growing! My first “viral video” reached over 10k views in high school. My most popular video at the moment is “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars with over 30k views.

  4. I’ve co-directed the modern dance component of UC Berkeley’s PCN (Pilipino Cultural Night) in the spring of 2017.

An inspirational event or instance that made you realize being a dancer was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life:

There are two general instances that made me believe that I’m never gonna give dance up. The first thing is my community. Hearing the support from friends, family and strangers about my art and movement reminds me that people appreciate what I do. I make my art for myself and the community, and my favorite part of dancing is exchanging movement and sharing moments. In general, performing on a stage with a team is a feeling that can never be replicated.

The second thing that makes dance super important in my life is that I’ve used it as a space to breathe, reflect on my mental health and even let go of the problems of the world and my life. Dance has healed me. With more new music comes more inspiration for new movement, choreography and even community gatherings. Dance is sacred for me, and if you went to school at Cal, you’ll find me dancing a lot in my free time.