Tanzen ist überall - Interview mit den Whogotskillz-Choreographen

Wie im aktuellen Magazin angekündigt, findet ihr hier das komplette englische Interview, das k50-Redakteurin Enting Zhang mit den Whogotskillz-Choreographen Andrew Baterina (A) und JP Tarlit (JP) geführt hat. Sie sprechen über´s Tanzen, das Leben, die Berufswahl und auch die Arbeit mit Prominenten, wie Missy Elliot.


How was your journey in Germany so far and which cities were you most excited for?
A: It's been a really fun trip because we get to see different cities and different students, so I don't have necessarily a favourite, because each city was willing to learn the same amount and it's a lot of fun engaging with the students. The cool thing about teaching (I teach overseas a lot), some of them don't understand English but we can all relate through dancing, so even if the song is happy, everyone is happy and if the song is emotional, everyone is emotional as well. But it's been cool to see all the different dancers in Germany.

JP: It's amazing. This is the first time I'm travelling to Germany and we're hitting 9 different cities, so it's really cool to see all the different cultures around the city. It's different from Canada. The weather is the same (laughs) but everything else like the buildings and the people and the culture around it is different, so seeing it is amazing. And there are lot of good dancers around here, from the other cities too, they were picking it up really well.

How do you experience the city of Cologne?

A: We haven't seen the city yet because our schedule is crazy: We go from one city teach to another city teach, we've been in 5 or 6 hotels already. Actually after this class we drive to Frankfurt to teach again.

What about the mentality here? Is it different from other countries or your home country?
A: A little bit. A lot of overseas people, they look up to US choreographers, but they don't realize that they are good themselves and they have to know that they can do exactly the same thing and not always be like “Oh you know they're good. We're over here. It doesn't mean anything.” The cool thing in the past year or two is, you can see the dancers travelling from Japan, Germany, Norway, just from different countries, because each country has special people that are good enough to do that. It's just that they get stuck watching the people that are already big, so their mindset is like “I don't know if I can make it”, but I tell them “You guys can, you just have to push and go for it”.

JP: I could tell that in some of the smaller cities the people were really shy and very timide, some of the bigger cities with more dancers and more of the professionals, they really went for it and gave more energy in class since the smaller cities, I guess don't get a lot of exposure that they were just more shy, but they still picked up the choreo really well.

Tell me about your usual schedule as a dancer, are they always this packed?
JP: Our schedule on this trip starts with waking up and getting breakfast at the hotel at around 10 and then get our bags, come here to teach and then we eat, drive 2-3 hours to the next city, teach again, eat, sleep and repeat.

A: Well, I've been dancing for a while and I have my own studio in the US and I train a lot of kids. I have a kids and an adult team and I teach class at home, other than travelling, so my daily schedule is that I have to run rehearsals. Being a dancer means you have to be more than a dancer and you have to be smart, because dancing is not like making a crazy amount of money. Luckily, I was blessed to be on a television show called “America's Best Dance Crew” and I started travelling from there. And since travelling gained more following I was able to open up the studio and gain kids, students and make my own clothing line on a website and my own workshops in my studio. On top of that I'm answering e-Mail bookings, this month it's Germany, last month I was teaching in China, I was in Croatia, in LA, I've taught in Columbia. So overall I have to balance working at home, my travelling bookings along with shows, rehearsals, clothing like everything together with my brother. He's my manager.

JP: Depending on how much work I book, in October I taught every day, but only 2-3h a day. In November, I taught 4 days a week and most of the time I wake up at noon (laughs) because my day starts later like I start at 4 pm when everyone gets off work and I go till 10/11pm.

Andrew, how was your name “Goodfoot” introduced?
A: Oh (laughs), that's my nickname on the show, they called me that because I started 'popping' (a certain kind of dance style) and I glide a lot like Michael Jackson... I grew up with those influences.

And where do you get your inspirations for your dances to form all these movements in your head?
A: It's crazy because most of my influence doesn't come from dancing, it comes from real live situations..also from movies and TV shows or maybe even a commercial, anything, because you can gain emotions from anything that happens and then I relate that to my music and my choreograph, so it's always relatable to everything,which is why dancing is fun because you can express any kind of feeling at any time, so it's fun.

JP: When I choreograph, it's more of feeling. If I am listening to a song I definitely have to be feeling something from it. There's been a lot of inspirations for me, I mean there are different choreographers on Youtube that I watch and I still get notice on different groups..like one of my best friends Jerome Esplana, he's been to Germany a lot and I danced with him forever and I've always watched his stuff, we grew up dancing.. he's one of my inspirations and there are lot of people in Vancouver lately that have been inspiring me.. a couple of people, there's Richie, Carlo, Stu ... like a lot of my friends. We have a studio in Vancouver (Harbour Dance Center), sometimes I'll go and just watch classes and it does inspire me..like I watch a ballet class and I want to take a ballet class just from watching it and then same thing for like jazz class. You can get inspired just from watching. It comes from everywhere, for my style I just try to be different and I just try to have fun, that's the main thing: to have fun when I dance. 3 words to describe your style? Smooth, groovy, feel-good.

Which choreography of yours do you like the most?
I don't like any (laughs)... it's like... I'm very critical, I have fun teaching it, but I feel like if I were to break down my choreography and compare it, I feel like it doesn't match to the top choreographers here, that's just my perspective. Everyone is critical, but for instance Andrew's style is very artistic, he's very smooth and he is able to add texture and Jerome is like... super fast and then... this is what I do (laughs). I do groovy and I feel it's easy at time and I don't know if it challenges the people enough but that's me just being super critical. I try not to think about it too much. There are times when I don't like my choreography and when I teach it and see the others dance to it, I like it. That's why I told my class that a lot of the times, my students who take my class, they inspire me. I give them the movement and they flip it up and make it look so good and make me fall in love with it.

How does it feel like to work together and be acknowledged by celebrities such as Missy Elliot?
A: It's cool, you just put your work online and hope that people will like it and when popular people are like “Man, I like your work. Good job!” Missy Elliot, I got to dance with her on “ABDC”, other than that I did K-Pop with Jay Park and we went on an Asia tour, I did two music videos for him and that was craaazy because in Korea, they love dancing.

Do you dance any other style than hip hop? Or which style would you like to try?
A: Besides freestyle and hip hop, maybe take some classes in contemporary, because I do enjoy watching it and I find it very creative and... salsa is cool (laughs), though I do like any dance, this is just my speciality, because I can relate to the music. All that stuff is amazing, I don't know how ballet people do because it's such a hard training

JP: I would really love to try contemporary, because the movement is so free and I feel like you're pushing the boundaries with your body and how you move.

How does dance affect your everyday life? Do you keep dance and your living apart?

Well, that's hard because you have to balance out free time with your family and girlfriend (laughs: if you have one) it's a very heavy schedule and if you stop, it's easy to get behind. You can't take a break from dancing a long time and still be successful, you have to practice everyday and it's mentally and physically exhausting.

What about combining your academic career with dancing? Is it possible?
A: It's a decision because you cannot do both. But you have to find what you really want to do. I was two and a half years in college and I got the opportunity to be on the show and I took it, because that's not gonna happen everyday, so I know that school will always be there for me (and I'm speaking really for me now) because I could go back right now and spend two years in school and then be done. But me doing this right now, travelling from country to country, meeting all these people, I don't think I will be able to do that when I'm older, so I would want to live those experiences right now. Does that make sense? (laughs) I can't miss out this, because this is a 'once in a lifetime chance', so you really have to make choice. School can be really hard on your mind along with dancing. Imagine if I was in school and doing this all at the same time...super exhausting.

And your parents? Were they strict about your educational career?
A: All Asian parents a kinda like strict, they told me I was gonna be a nurse or something in the medical field that would make money, because dancing is risky, but I'd be in class and always thinking about dancing and I'd be like “ Is this really what I want to do?”. You're either gonna do that you love or not. I'd rather do this than do a job I'm unhappy with, because all the money in the world can't make you happy and I don't wanna wake up and be like “ Oh no gotta go to work today”.

JP, how did your family react to your decision to be a dancer ?
My mom hated it (laughs).. okay not really hating it but I had deal with her. She was like “ I just want you to finish something in school and you can do whatever you want.” So I just thought about what was the fastest I could take just so I could dance (laughs) and culinary school was one year so I went there and after that I started dancing. The only thing my mum was worried about was if I could make a living. You know, typical Asian mum “ You have to save money, you have to do this, you can't dance forever..” and so on. She wanted me to be a doctor or a priest, cause she's religious (laughs). Luckily, she let me experience everything and let me make those mistakes in life and let me take the risk and now it's paying off. Right now, she's the most supportive she's ever been. On Facebook, she will message my friends and then post my videos on her Facebook, it's embarrassing but cute at the same time (laughs).

What is your Plan B if you're not able to dance anymore one day?
JP: My plan B would be culinary. I really like teaching and at one point I want to go to school for teaching but I ended up teaching dance, right? So, right now it's all up in the air, but I want to include dance somehow in my future.

Can you imagine to settle down one day and just live a life as a parent with kids?
Yeah, I want to, I look at dancers and choreographers like (…). They are married and make a living as dancers and there are many others in Vancouver that are married and make a living out of dance, so I'm just trying to figure out what I can do to keep dancing and making a career and make it a living.

Many dance movies out there deal with dancers that try to find ways to become big in the industry, what do you think about that focus on success?
JP: I think it's an important part for creating a career, definitely. You need to take risks, you need to aim high and go for it. I believe in that 100%. I guess, just for me, I don't mind failing, there are some dancers where I find like “They can't fail”, but I don't mind taking my time, because I want to enjoy my life, I want to have fun with dancing. You're dancing because you love it. Don't make dance stressful because it's something fun and positive

Andrew, you said that you could always go back to school. Is this also your future plan ?
I actually thought about going back last year and the year before, but so many things keep happening and I'm like “I can't miss this” and it is in my mindset to go back and I will, but not as a nurse (laughs). Just to finish college and I switched my degree to marketing afterwards because it goes hand in hand with anything, especially dancing, music and conventions, which is what I really want. Either way I get involved with something of it in the end.

So did your family support your decision on being a dancer while you where going to be a nurse?
At first no, but after I got on TV and they saw me with the travelling and everything like “Oh wow he's really going for it” and now they do. But at first it was like “You have to finish school!” because they didn't see it, so I showed them all this footage from the different countries and my mum is always like “Wooow I can't believe you went there” because she wants to travel too. At certain months it's very hard to see them, but I always make time to see my parents twice a month.

At which point in your life did dancing become a solid part?
A: I'm the youngest in the family, I have two older sisters and an older brother. The only reason I got involved in dancing is because they used to dance in the living room and I was like “ I want to do that too!”, you know, if you're the little one. I'm just the one that went overboard with it (laughs).
My brother danced in high school and college and he was very good at it and in elementary school I learned it too. So when he finished college and got a job, I asked him if I could take over his group name (he started it) and I was like “Thanks!!” (laughs) and I kept running it from then.

JP: I started off watching all those music videos from Nsync, Backstreet Boys..like I'm old school (laughs) so I started copying it, Michael Jackson was actually the first one, though I cannot do the moonwalk really well (laughs) I think I can, but I haven't tried it. In elementary to high school I started breakdancing and popping and just doing all that because it was cool back then. I got introduced to choreography dance by a group called Praise Team in Canada and I started dancing with them just for fun. It was like a conference they had and we would compete, but I didn't know back then that I was going to be a dancer. I actually went to school for culinary (cooking) and that's when I was like “I want to dance more” and ever since 2006, that's when I started taking it more seriously.

What are the good and negative sides of being a dancer?
A: The good side is that you always have fun and if you're smart, you'll make good money, you have to be a businessman and if you're not it's not gonna work out at all. Bad.. you travel a lot and miss your family a lot and the industry is very competitive, so if you're not on top of your dance, you gonna fall.
How do you deal with the pressure? - I know what I'm good at and I stick to I'm never like “ Oh that person is good, I'm gonna be like him”. If you stick to what you are good at, it will always be good and people will like that because your are confident. I do fear before I go on stage but I already made so many mistakes that I will only learn from them. There's a lot of pressure from peers and in general people from all over the world. You can't just quit, that's why you have to be mentally strong if this is what you want to do because it's a lot of work. You just hope for the best.

JP: For me, if I didn't dance, I would be really fat because I eat a lot (laughs). I guess that's one of the advantages, dancing helps me to stay fit. It keeps me happy, every time I dance I'm in a happy mood afterwards. For the disadvantages.. it takes over lot of time in class, if you're teaching a lot. By the time I want to hang out with people, I'm so exhausted, my body and my whole mind. When people travel, they don't get to see their family a lot and right now, I miss my two dogs a lot and it's really hard to be away from them (laughs). Your body deuterates faster, meaning, it wears out. I mean, a dancer's life span isn't long. When I get 50, I cannot jump like that anymore, right? We have to stay fit and always exercise and take care of our bodies. It's not really a disadvantage though.. I never look at dance as something negative because it makes me happy. I know that even if it does not make enough money, it would still be something I love to do. Since I'm involved with it, nothing negative actually came from it, like yeah, I get exhausted but I would trade nothing in the world for this. I don't make billions of dollars, but I make enough. That's the only thing that matters to me, that I survive and do and share what I love. I don't even call it a job. When people ask “Did you work today” I will respond “No, I danced. Wait. Oh yeah, I worked” (laughs).

Would you describe yourself as living in the moment or for the future?
JP: Before, I used to live for the future because I would always try to plan. Lately, since I get older (I'm almost 30! haha), I feel like I need to live in the moment, because I know people who did not live that long and it's just sad to see someone that regrets what he did. Right now, I'm just enjoying everything at the moment, but I do try to plan.

Do you think one needs to go through the whole routine of signing up in a class and learn dance from teachers to improve?
A: I learned dancing on my own with a few of my friends. Dancing is more viral now, it's everywhere. Class will always help, especially if you have good teachers, so when they pay the attention to you, you’ll learn and the more your learn, the more you improve, so when I take class, I'll get better and it's like exercising, I mean with all the training. But it's not the only thing you have to do.

Any tips for people that want to start dancing and deal with the fear of making mistakes?
JP: Oh that's hard.. because I was at that point, too. You need to make mistakes and care less about what people think and what they're doing, but focus on what makes you happy. I started caring less and focus more on what I want to do with my life and it came to this today. Just keep pushing and continue to stay positive, always be optimistic, meaning don't always be negative, if something bad happens to you, look at the positive perspectives. When one door closes, another one will open. My quote is: Anything worth having is worth working hard for. So if you really want something in life you work hard towards it, right? But in the process of that, don't be so hard on yourself. If something fails, you need to understand that there's a reason for this, doesn't mean that anything else will fail.

Anything crazy ever happened to you in your dance career?
A: A long time ago in the crew, we competed in our competition and we got stuck at the airport cause there was no hotel open and we had to sleep there. Next day, there was a competition called “ World of dance” which is a huge competition worldwide, we competed at the very first one, we were from Texas and everyone else was from California so we went there all scared and the day before sucked. We almost didn't go on stage, we finished the choreography at 4 am, but we went on and in the end won the very first World of Dance. It always happens like that: first something bad and then something good, if you work through it.

Thank you guys for the inspiring interviews!

Weitere Infos
Tanz mit!
8. März 2015 Starmoves Championship - European Dance Contest in Hockenheim
25.7. - 08.8.2015 WhoGotSkillz Beatcamp auf der Insel Pag
Infos: www.starmoves.net

Hip Hop Choreograph Andrew Baterina lernte mit 6 das Tanzen mit seinen Geschwistern und leitet heute sein eigenes Tanzstudio in Texas. Sein Team „Soreal Cru“ gewann 2008 den World of Dance und bekam in der 2.Staffel der Show „America's Best Dance Crew“ den 2. Platz . Über seine Youtube Videos genießt er unter anderem die Anerkennung von Chris Brown, Missy Elliott und Ne-Yo. Ihr findet ihn dort unter dem Kanal „Andrew Baterina“.

JP (Jean-Paul) Tarlit entdeckte das Tanzen zeitgleich zur Boygroup Era der 90er. Heute unterrichtet er im Harbour Dance Center und gilt als einer der erfolgreichsten Choreographen in Vancouver. Er gewann unter anderen den 1. Platz des World of Dance in Vancouver, im Monsters of Hip Hop 2010 und im Artist Emerge 2011. Auch auf Youtube stellt er regelmäßig Videos auf seinen Kanal „jptarlit“.

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