Props to the Pioneers – by Cezar Tantoko

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Cezar Tantoco“I started dancing, as a bboy first.  Back then, in 1984, there was no Youtube, nothing like that.  We would just see something on commercials or on TV – some breakdancing moves- and dancing looked like a positive way for us to channel our energy.

That’s how we got started, and maybe also because we thought it would help us get the girls at first (laughs).  But later, you realize there is so much more to it.  And when you get into dancing so deep, it becomes your passion.

I love dance, but it is the pioneers of Hip Hop who really inspire me.  Crazy Legs, The Rock Steady Crew,  and all the others who, despite the criticism they faced from everyone that didn’t believe in hip hop and breakdancing at the time, just kept going with it.

If it wasn’t for those guys who paved the way for us, those artists who constructed the highway for us, we wouldn’t be enjoying what we enjoy right now.”

-Cezar Tantoko- dancer, coach and choreographer

Creator of Fresh Groove Productions

Yesenia Peralta Shares Her Story of Dance, Growth and Healing- Interview- Part 1

Part 1: “Dancing has really taken me to a place of healing that I never imagined.”- Yesenia Peralta

yesenia4Yesenia Peralta has always been one of those dancers who really stood out to me because of her flavor and natural movement both in her social dancing and stage performances.  But her talent as a dancer has come to mean even more to me after getting to know Yesenia on a more personal level over the past few months.  Through an in-depth interview with Yesenia, first conducted in July of this year,* I learned what a strong, courageous and fun loving woman lies within this dancer, this individual.  Most of all, I was touched and deeply inspired by the passion for living that Yesenia shows off the dance floor as much as, if not more than, she has demonstrated in her years on the dance floor.

It is an honor to help her, through this interview, to share for the first time Yesenia’s story about her recent diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis (MS,) and how it has affected her perspective and growth in many areas of her life.  Thank you, Yesenia, for trusting me to help send your message out to all the people out there who want to know how you’re doing.  I know you will continue to inspire others with your positivity and charisma wherever you go.  You have definitely had a huge impact on my life from just a few months of knowing you.

*Note: This interview was conducted on July 23rd, 2012; therefore, any reference to time and location is reflective of Yesenia’s experiences up to that date. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, Yesenia, especially with everything you’re going through right now. 

That’s okay, girl.  Like I wrote to you, la gente estan pendiente (laughs)

(Translation: the people are waiting, they are waiting to find out what is happening with me)

People know I’m sick but they don’t understand what’s going on and what my mission is in my head.  But this is my moment to talk a little more personally about myself.  And even though you might be asking me questions about dance here, this interview is still different than others in the past.  Every interview I’ve ever done before has always been about ‘what’s next’.  People are always concentrating on what is GOING to come- “Oh, when is your school going to be opening up? When is your dance company going to perform?” they always ask.  It’s always about what I am GOING to be doing.

But this time, it’s a little different, you know?  This is the first time I’m doing an interview since I’ve been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  And, to be honest, at first, I wasn’t interested in talking on a personal level to anyone.   Three weeks ago, I would not have done this interview.  A month ago, I would not have done this interview because I hadn’t found ‘my place’ yet, you know?  (*see reference note at the start of the interview)

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To be a dancer…

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Zac headshot

“There are so many kids, especially teenagers, that can get
really down on themselves and are not able to express how they really feel.   To be a dancer is to have that outlet to really express yourself however you’re feeling at the time.  How you’re moving, and the story you want to tell, can be portrayed through dance.   And I think to have that is TRULY AN HONOUR.  And you get to spend that time being around friends too. You get to share that experience amongst other people that feel the exact same way.  It’s remarkable to have that.” – Zac Vran – Age 16

-member of The Freshh Crew

Photo Feature #2- Nicole Chan, Carlos Molina, and Elina Sumichan

It is my pleasure to share a special photo feature this month involving three fellow dancers and friends from our very own Vancouver dance community!  

Carlos Molina and Nicole Chan are captured here in a beautiful moment of dance by photographer and dancer Elina Sumichan.  The photo was taken at a recent event in Vancouver called Kizomba Temptation.  Thank you Elina for hosting and organizing such a magical night, and special thanks to Nelda Sumichan for providing us with such an elegant, intimate venue in which to get our Kizomba dance on!  It definitely proved to be a great night of mingling, music, and fun memories.   I am thrilled to be able to share one of those moments here as Elina’s shot of Carlos and Nicole will be our new header photo for this season. 

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One Billion Rising- Dance as revolutionary

This video was sent to me by my friend Orin who definitely appreciates the beauty and power of dance to work wonders.  Here’s what Orin had to say about this inspiring short film:

“I saw this posted by one of my idols – Alicia Keys, a strong woman and artist. It spurred some crucial thought for me. The view of dance as a revolution (revolution – a sudden, complete or marked change in something) has always been there, in front of me, but never this concisely.

It made me want to ask – What walls does dance help YOU to break down? Societal, personal, mental or physical. Whatever rings the bell of truth for you, I want to know.”

– Orin McRey

Thank you so much Orin for sending this along and for your thought provoking insights into it.  This is amazing.

To be a Bboy…

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“You don’t need to be able to do a backflip or head-spin to be a Bboy or a Bbgirl.  When I teach, I tell my kids, “If you just wanna be an ‘ill top rocker, you go and do that.” Just make sure you have the understanding of the freshness aspect, the cultural aspect, of how to share your dance and your passion with other people, because that’s what it’s truly meant for.  Dance is just to express and to share and to inspire, to bring a balance to yourself and to the community.  So if you just want footwork, do footwork!  It’s all good with me.”

– Bboy Savage Rock

(Note: This quote came from an interview with Bboy Savage and the rest of the guys in the Now or Never Crew. To read the full interview, go to Industry Dance Magazine’s website by clicking here.)

On a good night out dancing…

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“When I’m having a good night out dancing, I feel confident, playful, and a little bit sexy.  And along with my own feelings, if I get the connection I want with my partner in the dance, she’ll (heck, sometimes “he’ll”- haha!) feel those same emotions as well.  Sharing those feelings, even if only for three-and-a-half minutes at a time, can be a touch magical…and/or really hot.  I also like to follow in salsa and bachata when I get the opportunity. It’s a total mind bender to hold the other end of the communication line. It’s fun in its own right, and it makes me a better lead, too.”

-Geoff Gariando

Photo by Jeff Mendoza of  Commence Vision Studios