If my memory serves me correctly, it was the late spring of 2009 and I was learning a street jazz piece at HTE Staff Retreat that would be taught that following summer to Ciara’s “I Proceed”. As we danced, the choreographer, who was a friend of mine, stopped to give us some style corrections and background on the dance. After she watched and critiqued, a fellow dancer asked a question in an attempt to relate to a style that was unfamiliar to most of us (me included). Her answer was along the lines of “Like, have you ever heard of waacking, mainstream vogue, stuff like that? That’s what I’m looking for.”
I have no idea why that moment stuck with me but I believe that it was the impetus that set me on the path to defining my own personal dance style and to discovering one of my favorite commercial choreographers ever. Enter Bobby Newberry.
I came across Bobby Newberry on YouTube during one of my dance video binges (you know what I’m talking about.) I probably typed in something along the lines of “mainstream vogue” “street jazz” which led me to some Brian Friedman pieces and in the recommended videos box was It was a longer version of this video. I was positively blown away by the musicality, precision, and just overall ferocity of the choreo. His distinct choreographic style was what first attracted me. While I was accustomed to the commercial flavor that dance was starting to take on, it surprised me to see men pull off such a feminine style and not only look equal (or better) than the girls, but still keep a masculine strength in their movement. As I watched other videos of his work, I began to take note of his great choice and use of music, the intricacy of his movement, and the sheer confidence he and the people in his class exuded. It excited me to see this, as I was this young dancer looking for some type of movement inspiration to help me feel free and comfortable.
Bobby is a native of California and moved to Los Angeles after being awarded a dance scholarship. His hard work talents then led him to teaching and that naturally progressed into performing and choreography, where he’s worked with Eminem, Porcelain Black & Mel B, solo asian artists Aaron Kwok & Jolin Tsai (yes lawd), and some of my favorite girl groups, including Girlicious and the Pussycat Dolls. He’s been spotted performing with Jessie Malakouti as one of her “Toy Boys” and on tour with Kelis, as well as lending his talents on the X Factor & Dancing with the Stars. He’s pretty much done everything – with the exception of performing – that I aspire to do commercially. He’s even foraying into music, where he released a cover of La Roux’s “Bulletproof” with Melody Thornton (formerly of PCD), and dropped 2 of his own songs, “Toxic Love” and “Dirrty Up”, which I featured in my 2012 Best Dance Videos post.
Past the admiration of all his accolades, I’m really in love with his choreography and style. It has smatterings of vogue and jazz, a bit of hardcore technique (baby boy has an extension to KILL for), and a healthy dose of feel-your-body-up-and-dance-like-a-stripper. And you know that’s EVERYTHING I like in a combination! Watching his choreography has helped me find a confidence in my own movement whether or not it is placed in the box of having a feminine or masculine base. I can step into class or onto the floor and twist, snap, spin, drop, and shablam without feeling self concious and most importantly, slay all the fish who try to come for me! Yaaasss hunty!!! I have yet to take class with this movement genius as it seems every time he’s near my area I’m off teaching elsewhere or have a performance of some sort, but best bet when we’re finally in the same room together, I might fangirl just a little bit. I hope he won’t fault me for it.
am i right? or am i right?