I was introduced to dance very early. My sister, KeVhana, was a competitive dancer with DanceZone and AMS Dance Studio and my parents were with the neighbourhood dance crews and competed at talent shows, community events and street gatherings when they were younger.
When I was a toddler, my parents would blast the CD player with "old school" music and dance around the house with me. My mom said my sister was dancing on stage with all the lights and music during competition and I sat in her lap and said, "I'm supposed to be on that stage, Mommy." Soon after, I was dancing competitively and training with DanceZone (my current studio) and my Director, Sheila Milner, gave me my first group dances to compete at conventions all over the country. I have been training and competing ever since.
My favourite styles in dance are contemporary and Hip-Hop. With the contemporary style, I feel like it allows me to really join the music and become a part of the emotion. The hip-hop style is so much fun because you can show all your swag and dance attitude as a part of the performance. It's great for group dances and gets the audience lit!
My best training comes during the convention, where I can dance with Emmy award-winning choreographers from SYTYCD, Dancing with the Stars and many choreographers who were dancers and creative directors with Beyoncé, Khalid, Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez and so many more.I have had the opportunity to develop, train and compete all over the country because of the opportunities I've received through these conventions. I appreciate the scholarships I've received that have allowed me to train with the best. It is the greatest opportunity that can be provided to complement my studio training.
I want to experience going on a major international tour like my friend Jazz Smith who is touring with Taylor Swift, but I also want to attend college for media & visual arts. I hope to teach dance in the community while working in the visual arts field because my mom told me I could give back to the community by doing this.
I have been fortunate to have a very supportive immediate family – especially financial support. I didn't know how expensive it is to train in dance until my mom started showing me receipts and charges of what she was paying for conventions and solos. Wow! It is so expensive, and that makes me try harder because I can see the sacrifice. My family that is out of town follows me on Social Media, and I know whenever I need financial support, I can call them for help. I am so blessed, and my dad reminds me to always remember that.
Initially, my dad was new to the travelling competition side of dance. He didn't understand why we had to travel when there were great dance schools in Houston. After he started attending conventions, he really enjoyed how much I was learning. Now, my summer convention training and competitions are a family affair. Both my parents include this in their annual time-off from work scheduling and that makes the summer so exciting to know that we get to travel and train all over the country.
As for bullying, I never received any direct bullying, but I do see and hear LOTS of stereotypes regarding boy dancers. For example, some people assume dance training in styles such as ballet, contemporary, and modern means you are gay and not an athlete who is interested in sports. All gay people are not dancers and all boy dancers are not gay, but we all love to be supported. I'm a straight athlete and I absolutely love to dance, but I also love to play basketball.
Ballet helps me with my basketball and some of the team parents for my league basketball team have shared with my mom that I seem to be dribbling to a rhythm. I know that dance helps me with all my athletics.
I am so happy that the small community of boy dancers support and encourage each other. Whether gay or straight, I just wish there were more of us!! We learn so much and support each other because of who we are – not what we are or how people label us. We all look forward to seeing each other at conventions each year in cities all over the country. The dance world is in more demand than ever – through television and live concerts – for all genres, so I hope that more boys can be encouraged to join this family.