I love being right. Yes, I do. I love the smug satisfaction that comes with it.
When I first saw New York City-based dance crew Vogue Evolution do their thing at the New York City season four auditions for MTV’s Randy Jackson presents America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC), I knew that they had “It” — star quality combined with technique and flair — and that “It” would lead them to LA to perform on the show. And “It” did.
Yeah, I called it. I knew it. Looked into my crystal ball and I saw it. PowerBall, here I come…
Yes, I hear you. “It’s not about you Carla Ray.”
No, it’s not about me. When season four of ABDC premieres on Sunday, August 9 at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific (a new day and time), the focus will be on Vogue Evolution and the eight other crews who will be vying for the $100,000 grand prize and the title of America’s Best Dance Crew.
Recently, the members of Vogue Evolution took time out of their busy rehearsal schedule to chat a bit about voguing, being the first openly gay crew on ABDC, and what they hope to show the world. Present were members Dashuan Williams, 24, Pony Zion, 26, Malechi Williams, 28, Leiony Maldonado, 20, and Jorel Prince Rios, 23.
If you have never heard of Madonna, wasn’t into the dance scene, or perhaps slept through the 90s, you may not have heard of the dance style of voguing. What is it? According to Vogue Evolution (who I will later refer to as VE. Why? Just because), voguing is “self expression with flamboyant movement and abstract shapes…personality through movement.” You got that? Good.
About Madonna and her famous video for the song “Vogue”, when VE made a comment that “voguing has never been displayed as mainstream” something they hoped to do, I said wait, hold up a minute, didn’t Madge bring voguing to a “mainstream audience”? They complimented her on having made a “great video” but, they said, “voguing has a face and it’s not Madonna” and that “voguing has evolved from Madonna’s day.” Hence the name of the group, Vogue Evolution. VE is taking voguing to the next level.
Wow, did they just check me? I think they did. And you know what? I liked it.
Of course I had to ask VE their thoughts on being ABDC’s first openly gay group. And once again, I was “informed”. “Comfortable in their own skin”, the members of VE are happy to be such a “first” but..and there is a “but”…they don’t want the distinction/label to overshadow their work as dancers or the art of voguing. “Putting gay in front of what we do puts voguing in the background. It makes it look like only gay people can vogue versus the voguers are gay,” VE said. “We’re very proud to be continuing the legacy. That’s more important than our sexuality or our gender on stage.”
Oh and other thing. VE feels that they experience “sexism” more often than homophobia. What do they mean by “sexism”? “We ‘act like girls’ and that’s the problem. They say that they don’t care if we’re gay but why we have to act like girls. [That attitude] is sexist.”
In an effort…I don’t know…to feel…perhaps…not so misinfomed..I decided to go with a more simple question and ask VE about how long they have been together as a group. The answer: two years. Well, maybe that was a little too simple. VE added that they got together for the purpose of auditioning for ABDC. Oh, by the way, VE auditioned for ABDC’s second season. Missing getting chosen by what they believed to be a “thin line”, they decided to go for it again and “erase the thin line”. And that they did.
When they are not dancing on stage, members of VE also serve as peer educators for the LBGT community working with such noted organization as GMHC (Gay’s Men’s Health Crisis). They hope that their participation in season four of ABDC can serve as platform for education and understanding. “We’re hoping to teach the world to love and respect people based on who they are not on their gender…We want to educate the world about the LBGT community and how powerful they are.”
VE acknowledges that members of the LBGT community, many of whom suffer from low self esteem, don’t realize their own power, their own strength. As peer educators who tackle issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, VE is fully aware that having low self-esteem can lead to the risky behaviors that make individuals susceptible to contracting the virus. “It’s about self worth. If you value yourself more, if you feel equal to others, you will do less to harm yourself…less to destroy yourself.” VE hopes, not only to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS but to help raise the self worth of members of the LBGT community.
Now back to the show. Like I mentioned in the beginning, VE is hard at work rehearsing for their season premiere performance. And they don’t mind. VE said that they are “working hard to create the results they want to experience.”
Stayed tuned. I have a good feeling that you’ll be hearing from Vogue Evolution for a long time. Yes, that’s my prediction.
Here’s a preview of their Season 4 premiere performance