Truly More than Just Dance and Performing
BlyueRose Dance Project
by Jacquie Yo
F: How old were the both of you when you began dancing and instructing?
BRDP: We have been dancing since we were six and we are thirty six years old now, so thirty years. We became instructors officially about eight to nine years ago.
F: What studio did you study? What style of dance inspires you?
BRDP: When we were younger our parents couldn't afford to pay for us to go to dance classes or enter into a dance company in San Francisco. So my sister and I took advantage of community dance classes, learning at home and teaching each other counts and styles like jazz and ballet. Then we would share what we learned to other kids, for instance at the boys and girls club in the neighborhood. As we got older we tried to get scholarships but that was a hard goal to accomplish given the fact we have no formal training. We also cheered in high school which was very different than the styles we self taught ourselves. This ideal had become one of our many missions to work within the community. That is Blyue Rose Dance Project.
F: That is incredible! How did you come up with the name Blyue Rose?
BRDP: (Laughing) Well, we wanted to create a name that represented diversity. We chose a color we both loved, added the Y making it stand out. We wanted this idea to really represent something different then any dance company that exists. Also, when you think of roses, you have every other color: red, yellow, pink, orange etc… but a blue rose is a rarity. That is what this project is, a rare one of a kind experience for our communities.
F: When did this dance project become an reality, rather an entity?
BRDP: The dance project became an idea about three years ago. Two years ago, we became a legal entity. March marks two years since we have been in full swing, contributing to our communities. We thought “you can create something that was or could possibly be a large expense to some families, as it was to us when we were children, or we could give back in the same way we were able to experience dance.” We were always performing and existing way before then, but did not have the full scope of how we wanted this idea to come into fruition.
That is when we had decided and agreed on what we needed to do next.
F: After this idea came to life, what was your main mission(s) behind this project?
BRDP: One of our missions was of course to teach dance. But our main mission was to rid children and parents of the thinking that dance classes were too expensive to explore. They know how expensive it can be, they know how hard it is to get on a competition team or competitions in general: tryouts, costumes, travel et cetera.
Or even the girls that want to learn dance, technique, be apart of something bigger than them but see on tv, videos, peer groups, that they do not meet the typical stature of a dancer. Have the looks of a ballet dancer...We wanted to embrace these specific groups and welcome them with our Dance Project.
Girls that love to perform in front of a huge audience, do not have to fall into the typical look or style. We wanted to make sure any girl had the opportunity to just perform. We wanted to give these girls that opportunity. It’s a bit funny, but not one of our girls wants to become a professional dancer. They want to become chefs, lawyers, work in government and in their own communities. Blyue Rose Dance Project is truly more than just dance and performing.
F. What a blessing the both of you are! Explain to us the importance of keeping your girls pursuing their dreams outside of dance?
BRDP: We have created a fun place for them to learn. We are not a strict dance academy. We have built an environment of security and confidence while teaching them to be responsible human beings. If you can perform in front of a large room of people, you can do anything
F. How have you connected to your dancers to uplift & create a space for them to be their authentic self?
Since building a safe environment giving them a sense of security, they completely come out of their shell. One of our dancers, Kennedy out of nowhere got the courage to just cut off all of her hair. Mind you she is the stereotypical american beauty queen. She was no longer afraid to be different, not afraid of what her peers might say or if any thought of making a comment that perhaps her hairstyle was more boyish than beauty queen. We feel like these girls are our kids, and treat them as such so it was such a surprise when Kennedy's mother sent us the photo, stating “Our girl did it!”.
F: Spending so much time with these youth filled kids, they do look up to you in a parental sense. Do you feel that nurturing dance is an expression of an inner self? How do you think dance empowers others?
BRDP: We have probably every race on our dance team and in our classrooms. Not just the dancing, but also in our audiences. We have danced in front of crowds totaling 20k to a parking lot of parents. Sometimes you are going to make history and sometimes it will be just peers. This teaches them to adapt.
We have team building nights, along with visualization sessions to yoga, swimming together, sometimes we have a chill night in. Our last recital, this past summer, included social justice issues. We allowed our students to do solo’s, duets or trios. We gave them full freedom to pick their own songs and genres. Most companies do not do this. Most of the students pick Top 40 tracks but one student picked a Johnny Cash song. All the others kids didn't know what the song was, one the student started performing the other students were in full awe of the creativity and began listening to the lyrics and loved the performance. Another student is a taekwondo student as well, she took that passion, meshed it with dance while her mother read a poem during her performance. It was incredible. The recital is basically all of their own creative ideas made into one giant show for their family, friends and peers to enjoy.
F: What has been your favorite performance thus far? What song did you chose? Why?
BRDP: National Day of Dance was pretty darn good performance. But Gather was so far one of the best crowds. Oh but this year’s Women's March at the Capitol takes the cake. We were a part of making history. By the way everything that could have went wrong, went wrong. One of the girls learned the dance the night before and was going to perform it the first time in front of thousands of people. It rained. We our DJ mix this amazing girl empowered tracklist and as soon as began to perform, the crowd went crazy with cheers and screams. Needless to say, we did an incredible job that we were asked to come back next year. We definitely made history.
F: Before I let the both of you go, in one word, what does femwinism mean to you?
BRDP: Holly - Bad-ass and Heather - Power