Hip Hop: A Culture Within Itself

Spotlight On Hip Hop Dancer, Instructor & Choreographer, Kiana Davalos

How would you describe Hip Hop?

Hip hop is not about dance moves, the rappers you hear on the radio, or gold chains. It is a foundation, a culture within itself. No matter whether it's the MC (rapper), the DJ, the breakdancer, or the graffiti artist, it's all a universal language.  It doesn't have a race, a gender, a sexual orientation or an ethnicity.  It’s a language spoken amongst people all over the world. It may tie into Black History Month but it also ties into Hispanic Heritage Month, Gay Lesbian Pride Month, Asian Heritage Month, National American Indian Heritage Month and so on. Because at the end of the day Hip Hop is a culture bounded by different people from different places.

Who influenced your dancing?

There are a variety of different dancers and musicians within the industry who have influenced and inspired me.  Two unique choreographers that I truly respect and am constantly inspired by are Daniel Jerome and Brian Puspos.  I’m also inspired by the OGs (Breakdancers) who started dancing alongside the Roc Steady Crew, Zulu Nation and The Zulu Kings. With Pop & Lock, I look up to Mr. Wiggles for Popping and the original Don Campbellock for Locking.  And as much as I’m inspired by individual artists, I am also inspired by life itself and everyday people.  When I teach and share my craft I am sharing all the knowledge I've obtained over the years through people I've met around the world. 

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was 13 by myself at home.  I never took a formal dance class until I was financially able to pay for it myself which was at about 16 years old.  Growing up was hard, so I would just watch dancers on YouTube or in movies such as You Got Served and just imitated whatever I could as well as incorporate my own style. 

Why is Hip Hop dance and music so popular?

Honestly, I think hip hop has become extremely popular today, especially with the younger generation, because of social media.  Dance is one of the most watched videos on YouTube and it is used a lot in music videos of famous singers such as Justin Bieber, Usher, Chris Brown, to name a few.  Dancers now get a lot of recognition for their craft because of social media.  It has allowed artists to share their craft internationally and has opened up so many windows of opportunity for artists to share what they do.

Describe some of your Hip Hop dance experiences.

I have had the opportunity to travel and teach overseas which has made a huge impact on both my life and my career.  I was invited to be Creative Director and Choreographer on my 2016 Asia Tour and my recent 2017 Puerto Rico tour.  I have gained knowledge which has broadened my perspective on life.  Not only has touring enabled me to share my craft with students, but it has also taught me about different cultures and lifestyles.  It made me realize that teaching was much more than just teaching moves, but rather it was about creating an environment to genuinely move the people around me as well.  All in all I'm grateful for and humbled by these opportunities which have been presented to me.  I love Hip Hop dance and I hope to share it with as many people as I possibly can ... across the globe!