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The Dance Workshop: Impact=Heart

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 Jennie Velasco

Dance has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years.  With advancements in technology and social media, the world's creativity is now readily available for everyone to access and experience what it has to offer.  Movies like Step Up or shows like America's Best Dance Crew; artists like Missy Elliot, Justin Bieber, and Sia are also to thank for bringing dance and dancers to the forefront.  For years, the coastal areas were the primary focus for talent, housing big agencies that allow for greater opportunity for dancers to have access to the best classes, workshops, and auditions.

Without a doubt, the Midwest is gaining momentum in providing the kind of opportunities that was once exclusively for LA or New York.  What Chicago is doing differently, however, is creating a sense of community within this growing industry.  There is a support system that works cohesively with dancers and for dancers.  Although there are successful dance companies in Chicago, they are often intermingling creating workshops, showcases, and fundraisers that encourage and strengthen. And as generations of dancers move on to other realms of the industry, they pave the way for a succession of dancers to find that same support and encouragement.

In the coming months, we will be spending time learning more about some of these "movements" that have been created for new dancers on the scene.  Right now we are going delve into a new experience for Halfstack, a dance workshop.  This one in particular was organized by Sergio Lopez, a local dancer who started off as a b-boy, creating choreography with his friends, competing in competitions making his way through a TV debut in America's Best Dance Crew where he made a home in LA shortly after.  His time in LA has been spent teaching and touring with dance conventions.  A close comrade, Alvin Ramirez, was asked to join in on this collaborative workshop. His background in dance is similar, but rather than make the transition to LA, Alvin decided to stay in the Chicago area to inspire dancers.  Simply stated, his "passion is pouring into kids."  A combination of his faith and his love for dance led him to create HE(ART), a firm statement of where his talent stems from and how he chooses to utilize his gift.  Among these two talented men is an equally accomplished and forward-thinking woman with an almost identical back story in dance; Nicki Niemet.  She, like the others, started off as a b-girl and blossomed in the hip hop realm where her connections had her work with local artists and acclaimed dance companies in Chicago.  In her years as an instructor, she created Impact Movement.  The movement was a link for her students to connect with themselves and not become a product of their environment.  Her motto, "be impactful vs impressive" is the tool that she uses to keep her talented dancers grounded.

The unity in these three individuals is evident in their teaching methods and in their philosophy. They are essentially helping their students become better people beyond the realm of dance, and their combined experiences allow for them to better nurture new talent.  See the video for a glimpse of what this workshop entailed.


Photo and video courtesy of Ryan Shi shot at Steps Dance Center Aurora, IL

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