justDANCE! Diamonds in the Rough

Interview by Alan Ng
Words by Alan Ng
Photography by Christine Tang

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The justalilhype! Crew visited the Diamonds in the Rough dance crew, and interviewed Natasha Gorrie, Darylle Johnson, Carlena Britch, Teya Wild, Jane Marlinga, Darylle Johnson, Carmen De Los Santos, Mae Calinisan, Lisa Metz, Devyn Dalton, and Eileen Flormata. They have been busy gearing themselves for the World Hip Hop Championships preliminaries competition. The girls shared their stories on what got them into dancing and told us what sets their crew above than the rest. They also discussed about their views upon the dance scene in Vancouver as well as what it meant to be doing something you truly love, which to the girls, it’s just dancing.

Please introduce yourselves to our readers and tell us how you got into dancing.

N.G: I am Natasha Glorrie, what got me into dance was really my mom doing the running man in the living room and teaching me and her opening a studio, and the rest is history. Pure dance.

D.J: My name is Darylle, and I’ve actually started dancing as a kid through Natasha’s mom studio. They are the reason why I still dance today so it’s cool we are still dancing together.

T.W: My name is Teya Wild, what inspired me to start dancing is I started as gymnastic. Then I started doing tap. I grew up at a dance school so I didn’t know too much hip-hop at the start. Then I graduated from that dance school and came into Souldier’s dance company and that’s where I started to learn hip-hop.

J.M: My name is Jane Marlinga, I actually started dancing when my parents putted me into Filipino folk dance. From the age of 5 to 18, I was a studio kid, so I did ballet, jazz, all that. I moved over here and actually took one of Natasha’s class and saw her free styling at a club and went up to her and told her that’s amazing.

C.B: My name is Carlena, I started dancing just through a trouble child hood, I wanted to focus myself with something positively, and pull out of the negative and fought my way and paid for my own dance lessons at a young age and pushed myself, and came here today. A lot of help from Kim Seto and Souldier’s Company and of course Natasha Glory and Diamonds in the Rough.

C.D: I am Carmen, I started dancing in ballet and started hip-hop at Pure Dance as well. The only reason I am inspired to dance is Natasha Glory.

M.C: I am Mae Calinisan, I started off dancing as a street dancing, I didn’t know anything about studio dancing and just danced everywhere. When I was 19, a group of girls told me to join their studio Fresh Groove.

L.M: I am Lisa Metz, and I grew up in a studio doing tap, and jazz, and ballet and didn’t know anything about hip-hop. I came to Vancouver after the whole studio thing was done and tried to do the whole jazz thing. I realized it wasn’t from me and didn’t know where I want to be and branched off to contemporary hip-hop and found a place where I want to be and was just asked to be places that I wanted to be and in other crews.

D.D: I am Devyn Dalton, I just knew performing was what I wanted to do so I started in the studio doing ballet, jazz, modern, and hip-hop was just always the area I wanted to be in, it’s just what I liked doing. Taking classes all the time, taking it from Natasha and she’s probably one of my favorite hip-hop dancers, like ever. For real, it’s so cool to dance with Diamonds and Natasha because I look up to her a lot.

F.E: I am Flormata. When I was younger, my parents kind of forced me to do the whole ballroom dance thing, with my brother too. After I decided to go through with that, they decided to put us into martial arts for a few years. After that, in high school, I just got influenced by hip-hop music videos, and from that I have just been street dancing, discovered Harbour and did a whole bunch of dance classes.

How did the whole dance crew originate? What’s the story behind “Diamonds in the Rough”?

N.G: Darylle and I, we were in other crews and in other dancing functions and we felt like we weren’t getting from these groups. We were having fun with them but we needed another outlet. To put into the Vancouver Dance scene what we wanted to offer. We wan to get a group of rad girls together and have an outlet for us to put our freestyle, and share what we really love about hip-hop and what we want trained. We want to find girls that have the same passion.

D.J: When it started, it was quite a while ago, back in October 2008 when we decided to actually start the crew, and it was really cool on how it all began because it was Natasha’s mom Pure Dance who was helping us with studio space and we were able to hold jam nights and bring out girls from the Vancouver hip-hop community and down to train literally for the love of it. Since then, we branched out and added more girls but I really like how the crew was formed because of the love we have for dance.

N.G: We started out just having jam sessions, and we didn’t really want to have auditions or anything. We just wanted to see whom vibe together and who felt comfortable, and come for the love of it.

Is there a definition behind the meaning of the name “Diamonds in the Rough”?

D.J: Well we practiced in Surrey, and it’s kind of rough.

(The girls laugh.)

Tell us a bit about your respective strengths, and how has that contributed to the crew?

N.G: Everyone in this crew brings something to this crew. It might be something not small, but smaller then, but it’s actually a big deal on what everyone brings to this crew.

D.J: We just have such a large scale of different qualities that people are bringing to the crew. We have a DJ; we have people that have trained in contemporary and ballet, jazz so they can teach us dances that started with hip-hop that never got that training. We have people in business and marketing school, just such a wide-range of things with the crew both on and off stage.

N.G: We have people that bring contemporary, we have that bring popping and will do fundamentals with us. We all trained somewhat in locking, some more than others.

C.L: I think we all bring different strengths because we all have been through different stuff. There are times when one person is feeling down and the other person is feeling really good about life, it’s really good everyone is helping out another because we are all different ages. We all come from different places so it’s nice to all come together and pretty much help each other in every area.

D.D: It’s just really cool too because like have been through lots of different dance crews but this is one the first crews that have so many different areas but we all have the same goal so we all have really good chemistry.

N.G: With this group, I feel. I love coming here. When you are a dancer, you go through a lot of ups and downs. I find being an artist, there’s a lot of inspiration lows and feel uninspired, I come here and the girls get me inspired to do whatever it is that I wanted to do, or whatever it is they want to do. It’s like bringing each other up, and making a positive atmosphere.

L.M: Just to add what everyone said, we don’t have to be afraid to be who we actually are, when we are in our lows. Being in the dance business, you kind of have to put that stuff behind you because you are in a professional working place or you are trying to impress a choreographer but here we are allow to come and instead of saying you can’t do that. We are all really open to everyone’s different version of who he or she is and what he or she can be.

You guys definitely form very good chemistry behind the group; compared to other dance crews, what do you think sets “Diamonds in the Rough” apart?

N.G: Everyone’s really positive but we feel like when we are all in the room and bouncing ideas back and fourth, I think it gets us so HYPED and so eager to train, it’s an awesome energy. I think for a girl group, we are really keen on doing fundamentals, we might not be where we want to be with it, but we are keen on learning the fundamentals and keeping that alive. We might pull up a girly piece, or we can pull out popping, but we can also pull out flow work. That’s what set us asides.

D.J: Another thing that sets us aside from the other group is not that we can’t do girly stuff, but up to this date, we haven’t went up on stage and did girly stuff yet. We haven’t relied on that in any sort of way even though we are an all girls group. I think it’s good that we held together with our fundamentals.

C.B: Just because we are girls doesn’t mean we have to always dance like girls and that’s what cools about us. We don’t just use our gender to define what kind of style that we need to do or should be doing.

Fashion is a very part of dancing, and you girls are all very fashionable. Describe this relationship between dance and fashion, and how have you incorporated your fashion sense into your routines?

N.G: I love shoes. We all love shoes. I just always love fashion, I don’t know. I just love it. I love bright colors.

D.J: I mean when we are on stage as far as fashion, we are not afraid to take chances. We went on stage in paint suits, dressed as astronauts, we been aliens and worn big orange glasses. We would also go somewhere completely different. The store Dipt, they sponsored us and got us some really dope Vancity T-Shirts to rep in Seattle.

C.B: Personally I love Halloween. It’s fun that sometimes we can incorporate really cool themes to dress in fun ways. I mean how many dance crews all dress in paint suits where they haunted all over L.A and get to wear them with visors and neon glow sticks attached to them. We made it cool. It wasn’t just nerdy, it was dope!

What are your views upon the Vancouver dance scene?

N.G: I use to love going to LA and dancing and would get something from LA that I couldn’t get here and that was the style of hip hop choreography, and there’s lot of fundamentals in LA. But I would always miss training here because we have such a positive atmosphere- dancers really love in the city. If you want it, you can find it. Other cities train really hard too, there’s something about Vancouver that I love training here, and I love practicing here.

D.D: It’s just cool here. The different I find here is that people feel a lot more like a family just by taking classes, its not so competitive. It’s cool, everyone’s really supportive.

Branching from the above questions, what’s it like to represent Vancouver while performing at other major cities?

N.G: It feels amazing, I love being in other cities and repping with these girls. I feel like a powerful momentum, I feel like a powerful hip-hop woman dancer. I feel like I can face the world with these girls.

D.J: I feel like wherever we’ve gone so far, for like other cities and performing. Even when we are completely different than other dancers out there or similar to them, every single time, people appreciate what we do and it feels so nice because we work so hard together and go share this with other dancers in other cities and it’s just a really nice experience and I am really proud to be dancing with the rest of these ladies.

What are your next goals?

D.J: Our up and coming goal is to get in the World Hip Hop Championships and that’s held at in Los Vegas, so our upcoming performance will be for preliminaries and we are hoping we work hard and get through to go to Vegas and be able to perform amongst other crews around the world.

N.G: I would eventually want a touring show with all these girls. Touring all around the world, China, India, wherever it may be because traveling and dancing is so much fun. That’s a future goal for me with these ladies.

L.M: We will never stop innovating, because of the support that we do have in our group. We are going to continue to create and revolutionize what pop is and we are going to keep going.

What is it about dancing that keeps you girls and continuing to dance with DITR?

D.J: My idea on it all is that you only live once and why not spend majority of your life doing things that make you happy, and dance makes me happy so that’s why I do it.

N.G: Everyday, I get on the sky train, there’s a billboard for the yellowpages.ca, and it says heading to a job you hate, question mark. Whenever I am having a bad day, or not doing good at this, I look at that sign, no way. I am heading towards to Diamonds rehearsal or go train, I am never heading to a job I hate, and it makes me feel very fortunate. Dancing is my hobby, passion, and my love, my everything. It’s a hard balance, because sometimes it is hard to be an artist and make money out of it. Even if you are really good at it, because there’s sometimes that business side that I am not really good at. It’s hard to find that balance when it does becomes a bit of business and a bit of art. For me, it will always be a struggle to do that, and I don’t mind that struggle because I love dance.

J.M: I can actually relate to going to a job that you hate, and I do work and full time. Not in the dance industry and in school. To get away from those work and stresses, I make time for that. No matter I get two hours to sleep, I will make them, because it’s kind of my release in that world and just really let go for all that nasty stuff I don’t want to deal with in a daily basis and feeding off the girls’ vibe when they are jumping and bouncing off the walls.

N.G: It’s so inspiring for me to have that in the group because sometimes when I am tired and don’t want to go to practice, here’s Jane, with a full-time job, going to school, doing exams, going to the library, studying for her exams, and she stills comes to commercial and still works her butt off.

What is HYPE?

C.B: HYPE is life, really. HYPE is what gets up in the morning and makes you feel good about going about your day, and what you are going to next in life, and what is just right around the corner and what you did last night and what you are doing next week and everything. What are you wearing right now, what you are going to eat tomorrow, and it just makes you feel good.

F.E: HYPE is like an asthma attack.

(The girls laugh.)