MEET THE BRAND
When we formed The Brand in January 2017, it was simply to give a name to our group after being asked what we were. In reality, our history with each other dates back to as early as 2011. Everyone in the group has had a different and unique journey that has led them to The Brand. Some of us started out as friends who liked to dance, while others were attracted first by the dancing, and the friendship followed. But all in all, we describe ourselves as a collective of freestyle dancers that aims to elevate the local nightlife scene and showcase the foundational styles of American street dance. We can be found collaborating with local artists and DJs, travelling around to different cities for jams, or just dancing for pleasure at clubs around Richmond.
Although we come together as a collective and a crew, our goal is to allow each member to be an individual instead of trying to change them to be uniform with everyone else. A lot of dance crews exist that promote exclusivity and constantly spend time within their own crew - otherwise their members aren’t “dedicated.” Although everyone within The Brand has his or her own work, school, and life responsibilities, we wanted to have a group to provide a safe, comfortable space for friends to meet up, dance, and be happy.
We have dancers of many different backgrounds, such as popping, breaking, contemporary, housing, locking, jazz, salsa and so on. Among the group, pretty much everyone is a hybrid of different dance styles, having experience in multiple forms. While much of The Brand’s time is spent dancing socially and inviting other party-goers to join in, we set aside time to train on our own to share our knowledge and skills with one another, and explore our creativity.
When we all come together and dance, the common theme has always been about having fun. It’s never been about getting approval from peers, YouTube views, or social media likes, but has rather been about the art form and making sure that everyone enjoys themselves. As a freestyle group, it’s important for us to have an open mind to let our bodies move freely, and it is for this reason that we rarely create or learn choreography aside from structured freestyle for performances. Music is an important element for our dancing, and has allowed us to support and be supported by DJs in Richmond and beyond who have a talent and passion for spinning music for dancers.
Despite our love for movement, we all experience frustration at different points within our dancing, and it is through those difficult times that we make ourselves better both individually and collectively. When we’re together, we take advantage of opportunities to help build each other up, improve our crafts, and encourage each other to be better dancers.
However for us, it’s about more than becoming better dancers. It’s about becoming better people. We don’t want to be one of the many dance crews that cultivates dancers who are extremely talented, but lack a sense of humility or empathy. When these artists take themselves too seriously, it causes dance to become more stressful than anything else, and causes friction for everyone else encountered. If you ever see The Brand out together, you may wonder if we could ever be serious with each other. There’s this overall sense of fun and positivity for us as we always try to enjoy the moment as much as we can. As long as we don’t take ourselves too seriously, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing; hanging out, maxing, relaxing all cool. But we always end up dancing anyways. It’s why we’re here and it’s what brings us together.
The Brand is made up of : Dancers Featured in Photo: Russy J, Warren, Alicia, Mamsell, Taylor, Ish, Rodney
Not Pictured: Jahil, Kendall, Juan, Aziz, Fernando, Hana, Chaunci