TheBBoyBallet promotes community through dance
Dom-Sebastian Alexis pulls out his phone and looks up break dancing positions. As he looks intently at the photos, he is mentally arranging his body into the seemingly difficult positions, such as a headstand with his arms perched on his hips. After taking less than a minute to calibrate his body and mind to produce the move on the screen, he hops onto the freezing cold metal train track in downtown Greensboro. He counts down, and I snap photos on my camera repeatedly as he balances his body weight, on one hand, bearing the frigid elements. It occurred to me at our photoshoot that Alexis is not only someone with a college degree in dance, but he is a natural dancer. Through movement, he thrives.
Alexis co-founded TheBBoyBallet and the Gate City Breakers and is a shameless promoter of the Greensboro artistic community.
“TheBBoyBallet is a concept of dance more than an actual dance company,” Alexis said. “[It’s] the concept of what dance should be. It is a terminology thing. The “B” in Bboy stood for breaking, it was street terminology back in the day like when somebody is acting out of the ordinary, so that is where the breaking came from. It is more like the passion of the dance. It is like something inside of you broke so you have to dance.”
Now ballet, he said, is more of the vocabulary of dance. He said with ballet; there has to be a spectacle, it is not just dancing it is the “whole aesthetic, the outward part of dance.”
“So I bring those two things together,” he said. “That is why it’s called TheBBoyBallet; it’s the internal spectacle externalized almost.”
Alexis thinks about dancing all the time, so much so that he does it all the time, everywhere he goes. His moves caught my eye one day when he tagged YES! Weekly in one of his videos on Instagram. In that video, he is dancing beside a YES! Weekly newsstand.
He said he uses videos not only as a source of promotion but also as a way to self-reflect and improve his movements. He said he tries to incorporate things he likes in his community and then promote it at the same time as he is dancing.
“So that is how the YES! Weekly thing started,” he said. “I just always see them around, and I would see articles in it, and it’s like people that I know that is in it, so it’s like I feel connected to it in a sense. It feels like it’s something I should have done anyway because YES! Weekly is so ingrained in like the whole Triad. It is interwoven in everything you see everywhere; they are always around in the community. Black people know about things like that, so it was one of those things like ‘this will be a cool little paying homage type of video.”
Alexis graduated UNCG in December 2015 with a Bachelor’s of fine arts in choreography and a minor in drama. Post graduation, Alexis worked at Home Depot and then went into construction work. All the while, he was still teaching dance classes.
“Then I made the decision,” he said. “I said, ‘you know what, I need to focus all on dance.’” Ever since June 2017, he’s been dancing full time.
At first, Alexis and his crew would go out on first Fridays and food truck festivals to dance; then they did a TEDx Greensboro talk in April. Now, he teaches at various studios around town, collaborates with Greensboro Ballet, and works with Durham school system for Arts in Action. Despite dancing full-time, Alexis admits that he still gets nervous and exclusively nervous when he is performing for the community.
“We’ve mainly been doing community-based things,” he said. “I get more nervous and bent out of shape when I am performing for the community. I have performed in stadiums before and like I am never nervous, but whenever I am home or am doing something for like the community, I am more nervous there than in front of a couple thousand.”
Alexis describes TheBBoyBallet’s style of dance as neo-contemporary.
“I consider street dancing itself to be contemporary dance,” he said. “But then again, my dance form is a juxtaposition of street dance and classical dance, and it’s a hybrid of movement, so that is why I call it neo-contemporary. Because although it’s contemporary, it’s still a new approach to what is already there. I would even go as far as not even calling it dance and call it neo-contemporary movement because dance sometimes implies that there is music involved. But like movement is more just something that is coming from you without having a catalyst of sound to drive it.”
As far as why he dances, Alexis said it just has always been that way.
“There is not a why,” he said. “I think if I gave a why it would just be forcing out an answer for an article.”
Although dancing is his passion, he admitted that he did not initially want to go to school for dance. His dream was to make T.V. commercials, but after getting into marketing at Guilford Technical Community College, that dream was eclipsed by going to the club and dancing.
“I found myself going to the clubs all the time and I was there for the music,” he said. “I wasn’t even hollering at anybody, like most people go and try to socialize but my main focus was like, alright today I want to work on a six-step or today when I got to the club I want to work on my popping, and I am like ‘hey, I go there all the time not really drinking that much just here to dance, so I might as well gotten a degree in it.’”
Dance comes naturally to him, Alexis said that he even starts dancing before he wakes up in the morning.
“I just do it. I am always dancing. Sometimes I start dancing before I even open my eyes. I am in bed and then it starts in my shoulder and it’s like I am up. That is the why I guess.”
Through his dancing, he said he could make videos and promote various people he likes through the community. In a way, he is fulfilling his first dream of marketing with his passion and natural gift of movement.
“Through my dancing, I could still fill that void in life,” he said.
Alexis was born in Texas and then moved to Greensboro when he was young. “I claim Greensboro like wholeheartedly,” he said. “After you have been here for like over 10 to 15 years and you don’t claim Greensboro it’s cause you are holding on to something that is not there.”
He said Greensboro is a great city to stay in, but it took him a while to get into that mindset because external forces tried to talk down on Greensboro.
“After, I like took a step back and looked at my city,” he said. “I went to Los Angeles, and I was there for three weeks, and when I went to New York I was there for like a couple weeks, and after three or four days of being there, I was thinking about Greensboro. And then I am like, ‘why are you thinking about Greensboro if you want to leave this place?’ The biggest thing was when I was in Paris; I was [there] for like three days and then like after day two I was like ‘alright I am ready to go back to Greensboro.’ We have some of the best food, best people and best people politically trying to make things happen.”
Why does he love Greensboro so much? Because he said, this is where diversity started with the Greensboro Four and the sit-ins that sparked the Civil Rights movement.
“The history of diversity starts here, diverse dance starts here,” he said. “Anything that is a turning point for creativity or diversity or socially should be starting here because that is where it started. You are only as strong as your foundation. Why not Greensboro? So many awesome things have already happened here like the only thing that is going to happen is another awesome thing after another awesome thing, that is the foundation. We are the ones that catapulted this whole movement. So even if it’s New York, Cali, Charlotte, Raleigh, at the end of the day about an hour away, it started here. No matter how diverse you are, don’t forget who started this whole movement it’s us, 336. Triad. Gate City. Greensboro.”
Alexis said that despite having connections such as friends who dance for well-known artists such as Taylor Swift and Beyonce, he does not want to leave Greensboro. He said he has to think about what his dream is; he does not want to adopt the dream of someone else.
He wanted to take a different route; he likes the thought of dance education, teaching and coming up with different ideas to approach his style of dance.
“I can do that in a bigger city, but I could also do that here and like still like have a cheaper rent and have friends I know and build a community,” he said. “Why would I go to New York or any other big city and build a community and make them more diverse [when] I could start at home and just build something there and be comfortable doing it with less stress and more focus on my art.”
Recently, The Gate City Breakers of TheBBoyBallet performed at the North Carolina State Basketball halftime against Clemson University on Jan. 12. Coming up, the company will be performing at the Fringe Festival on Jan. 25 at 8 p.m., Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Stephen D. Hyers Studio Theatre. According to the website (www.thebboyballet.com), TheBBoyBallet offers kid and adult classes at the Greensboro Dance Theatre (located at 2604 Battleground Ave.) and The Greensboro Cultural Center which houses The Dance Project (located at 200 N. Davie St.), respectively. On Tuesdays at the Greensboro Dance Theatre from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. for ages 5 to 7, there is a hip-hop dance class; and there is another hip-hop class from 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for ages 8-11. On Fridays from 4 p.m. until 4:45 p.m. there is also a boys hip-hop dance class. For adults at the Greensboro Cultural Center, on Mondays from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. for ages 18+ there is a hip-hop dance class and on Fridays from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. for ages 13 and up, there is a breaking dance class.
As for the future and beyond, Alexis said he is not looking for fame, he “just wants to be great. I don’t have to be seen I just want to know that I can do it,” he said. He has an ambitious plan for 2018: to make one million dollars, “because why not,” he said. To affirm this goal, in almost every post he makes on Instagram, he includes his mantra: Step 1: Have a plan, Step 2: Do it, Step 3: Repeat Step 1.
To check out more information about TheBBoyBallet visit the website (www.TheBBoyBallet.com), Facebook (/TheBBoyBallet) and Instagram page (@thebboyballet).
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.