Expression through Movement

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Our featured artist for this week is Leanne Bergey, a Hip-Hop Dancer from Oakdale, California

Our featured artist for this week is Leanne Bergey, a Hip-Hop Dancer from Oakdale, California

Q: When did you first start dancing?

A: I first started focusing on dance when I was about 11. Before that, I was a competitive gymnast from the age of 18 months to about 10 years old, then I did theater for a year before focusing on dance. The change from gymnastics to competitive hip-hop dance was quite a change for me, but I fell in love with it right away. I still got to incorporate a lot of my gymnastics skills since the style of hip-hop I do is so trick intricate.

Q: What has been the most challenging part of your journey in the “dance world?”

A: The most challenging part of my journey in the dance world has definitely been about body image. I’ve always been a thick girl. Even when I was at my peak as an athlete working out and dancing up to five or six hours a day five days a week with competitions on the weekends, I was still what was considered overweight. I was always known as “the big girl” on almost every competitive team I was apart of, consistently hearing how incredibly impressive it was that someone like me could dance, flip, and trick the way I could. I knew that people were trying to compliment me, and I would like to think they would have noticed my talent regardless of my size, but it was extremely difficult to stay positive and not take what they said as a hit to my body image. I would even refer to myself as “the big one” when I would show people videos because I thought that maybe if I said it first it wouldn’t sting so bad when they did. Fat people don’t really belong in the dance industry according to the world’s unfortunate standards. Overcoming people’s opinions of my size as a dancer is still something I face daily, but I have discovered so much within the struggle that I consider this challenge also as being a blessing.

Q: What disciplines would you say are involved in becoming a skilled dancer?

A: Dedication is key. Dedication involves both physical and mental training. Physically you have to push yourself past limits you had yesterday, while knowing your body enough to know when you are doing too much. It takes a lot to train yourself physically because you have to be dedicated in your work outs, sleep patterns, and eating habits. Dancers are athletes, so an athletes physical dedication is required to thrive as a dancer. Dance takes a lot of mental dedication as well because of how much emotional expression is in each move. Most importantly, in my opinion, is perseverance. Dedication with perseverance is not possible. Failing is part of pushing yourself to new limits, and it is important to get back up and try again. As cliche as it sounds, never giving up is just as important as learning those beginning dance moves.

Q: What is your favorite thing about dance?

A: My favorite thing about dance is the communication of the movements. The movements talk to each other and to the audience, and even when the choreographer intends it to communicate one thing, it might speak over and above what it was originally intended to say, if that makes sense. A dance can say one thing to the choreographer, one thing to the dancer, one thing to the audience, and one thing to the judges, but if a dance is done right, what the dance speaks to all is in harmony with the rest. Dance provides a space for people to see a piece of art and walk away with new knowledge of the world. That experience is unique to every person, watching every dance, every single time. No two experiences are exactly the same, and I find so much beauty in that.

Q: Where do you hope your dancing will take you?

A: I plan on dancing as long as my heart is beating, but as far as where it will take me I think I just hope it will take me to a deeper understanding of people and of the God of the universe. If dance can be used to speak to others, that means it provides ways to connect with others. I hope to learn from those connections to love deeper, listen well, and by God’s grace, make the world a little less awful. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but I truly believe art can make big change in the world. That starts with a change in me.

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Tori

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