Monday, July 19, 2010

Hip Hop Be True To Yourself by TEC

The Journey
On our journey since the early 1980's, WandeePop and I had a vision. We always built different crews through the years to be part of so we can create the vision.

We played behind the scenes for many years and in many cases let opportunities pass us by. Even with many lectures (good ones) from Steffan (Mr. Wiggles) Clemente trying to persuade us to step up and stop the bulls** ;-) He, as well as many other family/friends, saw something we did not see at the time.

Somewhere along the line we lost the motivation. But we would get charged again when Steffan (Mr. Wiggles) came into town to teach. Or PopMaster Fable called us of a gig. Or if the Electric Boogaloos were on the East Coast we would travel to take their classes. Since Wiggles and Fable have been our teachers since our dance birth, they motivate us to want more in this culture. We just did not know where to start or where to rediscover our drive/motivation.

Why did we lose the motivation?

When I think back to my childhood I was fearless. So I was in search for that same fearless experience when you really connect with who you are, what you want and the music that drives you. When everything makes sense. I was lacking that emotion of connecting on a spiritual level. Where the music takes over. I did not know it at the time. It took many years of soul searching and rediscovery due to tragic losses in my family plagued me with a deep depression and I lost my expression. Losing my sister and brother through illness had me at a stand still.  There were also very huge influences in my life personally.  Always taught me to go after my dreams with no limits

The Auditions
Along the line we became discouraged. Going to auditions and watching dancers wearing nothing or being labeled 'Old School' for our original overall Organic NYC Hip Hop Style. We did not do the booty shaking, stripper moves so we lost many jobs. I remember we walked off a video set when they bought booty shorts for us to wear for a dance combination.

There is nothing wrong with street jazz or in the choice of clothing dancers wear. It was a choice we made not to represent the Hip Hop Culture or BGirls in that light. We were not comfortable. We knew from that point we needed to create our own opportunities and make our own moves if we wanted to express ourselves artistically.
The Classes
Taking dance classes were another disappointment to some respects. Most of what is taught is choreography No real education on the Culture of Hip Hop. Teachers label themselves as teaching hip hop, but it's street jazz or street funk. We enjoy street jazz and street funk.  If you watch 'West Side Story' you will see Street Jazz, it's the Bob Fosse style of raw expression.  
Hip Hop is an experience. Freestyle Party Dancing, Rocking, Popping, Locking, Waccking, Voguing, Breaking is what you Do, Hip Hop is who you are and how you live. Students want to learn more about living the Hip Hop Culture, learning about the elements, dance movements/styles and how it was created, not just random movements to counts. The element of freestyle (on the spot creativity) completely taken out of the equation.

But a higher power kept calling us to really get something dope together, but we still were not sure what we wanted to do with dancing or hip hop. But we knew we were tired of letting it go. There was a void and we wanted to fill it.

The Birth of TEC
So then came the birth of Tru Essencia Crew with Miss Twist, Pauline and HoneyRockwell originally and Seoulsonyk joined us not too long after. We were already hanging out, practicing and had the passion to dance. So Twist created our official Tagline 'TEC 2003' for the year we formed.

We did some performances, some auditions and landed dope gigs. But after sometime the practicing slowed down, occasional hang outs and gigs. Motivation lost, we continued our lives with the occasional workshop here and there. But nothing that sparked the fire that we will come to know if a few years.

The amazing thing is we kept getting opportunities come our way, even if it was a few gigs per year. The gigs were great to fuel us, make contacts, have fun performing and practice. But, then there is the added pressure of the negative self talk

'OK, you have not danced in how long, and you have not taken any classes in how long and you have not freestyled in how long.' Then there goes the confidence level...

Do you notice a pattern here... The vicious circle we torture ourselves with when you don't take a stand, look fear in the eye and go for it..

'Do What You Fear.. and the Death of Fear Is Certain'

No one should allow themselves to be paralyzed by fear of the unknown or of what people will think and say about you.

The Legends
So when PopMaster Fable called in 2006 with an offer from Rennie Harris to perform a popping piece in his next 'Legends' show we could not pass it up. Again, we were faced with another grand opportunity to get focused. Talk about the pressure when we heard about the lineup of dancers in the show. Great talent and we are honored to have been part of it.

So all through the negative self talk, late rehearsal nights, pressure to live up to being Mr. Wiggles sister, pressure to perform well, nail my solo, focus, get creative, flow free, connect and face my fear.. we are grateful we were given the opportunity to perform the show 'The Legends of Hip Hop' at the Victory Theater in 2006. It was not long after we knew what we wanted to do.
Snap, Pop n' Rock
In 2007, Snap, Pop & Lock was brought to life. The name was always there, created in 2001 when I was working at Equinox as a certified personal trainer. A very reputable group fitness instructor that taught for the company gave me advise about creating a class that only I can teach.. brand it and make it yours. So there went the brainstorming and who would guess one of my favorite cereals would pave the way.

Crazy thing is I wanted to teach, but I did not enjoy teaching at that time. It took me awhile to figure that one out, but I did eventually. Everything in your life is given a divine time to present itself. Patiencia Y Fe (Patience and Faith) will guide you.

So teaching bootcamps, sculpting classes, hip hop fundamentals etc.. was not fun, it was a choir something I did because I needed the money, which is a really WACK way to live.

So when I created the name it was for the right reasons, but I knew the timing was not right to develop the structure. I was NOT ready.

So WandeePop and I wanted to create something that reminded us of our days on Fox street in the South Bronx; dancing in the streets, parks jams, house parties, playing beats that rocked your soul, not feeling intimidated to dance because everyone was there to have fun. No pressure.. except for when the battle erupted. You had to school whoever entered the battle cipher with intentions to burn you.. School Em' It was Sooo much Fun. That's was our goal.. create an experience, a fun atmosphere where you learn about the Hip Hop Culture and all it's elements and get a kick ass workout in the process;-)

The Rewards
Our students learning, appreciating, building and coming to class every week because they are dedicated. We want to teach anyone who wants to learn or drill what they already know from the absolute novice to the ultimate professional.

The Conclusion
I write this to say.. Be True to Yourself' If you know what it is you want start building on it now. It will lead you to your goals one step at a time. Do not just think about what you want.. Act on it. Invest 20% of everyday to your dreams and it will lead to 80% of your success.

Along the way we received advice from a few people we looked up to. Some advice we took and some we did not.. You have to go with your heart. And thank god we did..

We were told.. The name 'Tru Essencia' should be re-considered.;-/ because of the spanglish. It was labeled confusing.. Not clear on who we are.
But we felt the name represented us perfectly.. The True Essence of women. The spanglish represented the Nuyoricans in us. That fine line between Puerto Rico and New York City.

We were told the name Snap, Pop & Lock would confuse people and we should change it to Hip Hop Basics.;-( to get students in the door and change the name later.
But we wanted to build something of our own. Anyone could teach 'hip hop basics or fundamentals'. So what we did instead is create the tagline 'Organic NYC Style Hip Hop for Health' so there were no questions about what we were about.

We were told teaching True School Hip Hop party dancing/Latin rocking combined with health and wellness wouldn't work;-( because people don't want to work out they want to dance. What do you think moving your body on the dance floor is to begin with... I hate to tell you but you are already working out. Elevating the heart rate, contouring your body in moves that require strength, maintaining balance using your core muscles. But what we give you in conjunction is injury prevention. Strength training, endurance and flexibility. Is it challenging.. sure, but NOT unattainable.

We were told we should follow the trends of the more popular classes by teaching some street jazz to get students in the door then add our hip hop party dancing later because our style was considered 'Old School' and no one was really interested or knew what it was.

Would you go into a beginner's ballet class and ask for 'Old School' ballet? Hip Hop is Hip Hop and it has basics and techniques you should know because nothing today is NEW it's all recycled or fused together. SPnR is a workshop needed and it is not a problem for us to build it from the ground up weather we had 50 students or one.

It's a challenge you consider when it comes to paying dues. We paid our dues on the streets of the south Bronx from early 80's until today. Now we have the pleasure of teaching our students what the Hip Hop Culture means to us.. it's not a gimmick.. it's who we are.

Patience is a virtue. Nothing worth while and brings happiness is overnight. Don't Give Up and Always Listen to Your Heart. There is nothing better then Being True To YOU!!
We Don't Regret it!

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