Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with our lead Urban and World Dance teacher at E.W. Brooke Charter School who has helped pioneer this new partnership. We are kicking off 2017 by reflecting on how much our students have grown as well as Darnell’s hopes and dreams for the future.
This is our fist year working with E.W. Brooke Charter School – what’s been your favorite thing about your students?
They make me laugh! Watching them get into a groove, set plan, they are growing. They’re learning to fix things for themselves and they truly want to be in dance class as well as learn respect for themselves and other members of the class.
How have your students grown since the start of dance classes?
Movement wise – they are getting better. They have learned to stop saying “I can’t do it” and have started asking questions like, “how do you do ____.” I can tell they feel more comfortable and confident.
How do you think the skills you’re teaching them in dance class will help them grow through high school, college and beyond?
Well – it helps them with homework! They know that if they don’t do their homework they can’t come to my class. They are learning teamwork and responsibility. Even when they miss class, I find out that they practice during lunch and will teach others who may have missed the previous week.
If an outsider walked into your class at any point – what could they expect to see?
Drilling! 100% of students participating. We go over steps slowly and work on speeding up. It’s also a fun time. Sometimes teachers will take the class. The other day I was playing the song “Ju ju on that beat” and a couple teachers came in and did the dance with us. One time the principal taught warm up. Ms. Mendez the secretary brought in Spanish music and taught a Spanish dance once. Not only are students involved, everyone joins in. We approach dance all together and it’s not like the students are laughing at the teachers. Their reactions are “Oh wow! You can do that?!” We can all do it together and be cool together.
You’re also very active in the Boston Dance Community. Do you have any past or current projects you’re excited about?
I just won a competition for Hip Hop International hosted by Ja Ja from Phunk Phenomenon. I submitted a 3 minute video doing 3 different dance styles, old school hip hop with a focus on locking, krump and dance hall. I won a free trip to Phoenix, Arizona and will get to take classes and participate in hip hop battles with top dancers and choreographers in the hip hop industry like Nappy Tabs, Paris, Tight Eyes, and more.
Any goals for the New Year?
My students will be performing in a competition in March – so we are getting prepared for that. Outside of Brooke, I’m currently working on a concept video centered around women empowerment explored through a hip hop dance lens. You might say my students at Brooke played a part in inspiring me. I hope to get my dance hall workshops up and running for the spring. I’m also really excited about my new full-time job at Apple. I want to say yes to everything! However, I’m always taking into consideration my personal limits.
We are so thrilled to have Darnell pioneering this program at Brooke! You can check him out here, and be sure to keep an eye out for the incredible work he creates!