justDANCE! Lyrical Thesis

Interview by Jenkin Au
Words by Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au & Patrick Leung

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Starting about a year ago, Lyrical Thesis consists of Angela Lowndes, Kieran Heralall (Kie), Angela Amici, Kyle Vicente and Cam Gordon. Each of the members have had years of experience with dance, but one day, Angela L and Kie thought that something should be done collectively and the rest of the group was brought in. Thus, Lyrical Thesis was born. This group is immensely diverse with the styles of dance they know, including hip hop, pop, locking, traditional, and even salsa and tap. Lyrical Thesis is definitely a unique group within Vancouver, aiming to remind people that dance should be about the fun that you have and, more importantly, that there might be a meaning beyond just dance. This fivesome has gone through several names but their true purpose has never changed and they continue to focus on reinventing themselves through more class, travelling and videos. Missing from this interview was Cam, but the rest of them were present, bright and early, for an interview with the justalilhype! Crew.

Can you tell us about your crew and how it started?

Angela L: We came together about a year ago. We are all professional dancers in the industry.

Kie: We initially started talking about how it would be nice to see a crew out there combing styles that are different, where as focusing more on one style.

Angela A: We all came from different backgrounds, locking, popping, housing, salsa, and street hip-hop. We pretty much do everything.

Kyle: We keep pushing to do more and more to keep the originality as well as keeping people interested.

Angela L: Yea, bringing something different to the scene.

Who started it all?

Angela L: It was Kie and I. We all knew each other from the scene.

Kie: We were working together with an artist back then. We knew each other by working together so many times, and for so long. Originally, we just planned to train together – Friday night drop in’s – [but we though], “Why not bring people together and do something?”

Where does the name come from?

Angela L: It’s from a Biggie song actually.

Kie: Names! We’ve been through so many names. For our very first performance, we went as “Vanity” because that was what we called the piece – the message was vain and it was also a play on Vancity. From there, we didn’t really like the name Vanity so we went with the name “In Between” because we needed a name in between the performances. Then, we threw around “Monkey Paw” because that was an inside joke.

What’s the joke about?

Angela L: I came to the crew and said we need a good name. Kieran was like, what about, “Monkey Paw?” I was like, “No!”

Kie: It was kind of a stupid thing and I can’t remember who came up with it. We did something stupid – we had the hand gesture and we were like, “What is that? Monkey Paw!”

Angela L: They all wanted to be “Monkey Paw”.

Kyle: I wanted it so bad!

Monkey Paw is pretty sweet.

Angela A: Think about it, it’s not professional.

Kie: From there, we were set on “Beat Ninja”. We were set on that but what happened was another crew claimed the name already.  They have been around since 2007 so it’s only fair. We were driving one day just thinking of names and we thought of a lot of names. We thought about eight names each between all of us. One day, “Lyrical Thesis” came in a Biggie song.

Angela L: I was like, “Yo! What about ‘Lyrical Thesis’?”

Kie: I was like, “Dope! Yo, ‘Lyrical Thesis’.”

Angela L: I would describe it as, lyrically, as dancers, it’s our thesis statement whenever we perform.

Angela A: Our theory to the music, our idea to the music.

If lyric were to be with music, then dance would be to?

Angela L and Kie: Movement

What does each individual contribute? Who’s the new school and who’s the old school?

Angela L: I am the old school here. I am the oldest of all of us. Kyle’s old school, too, I say.

Kyle: I do a lot of old school, and I do a lot of new school as well.

Kie: I would say his forte is the newer stuff. Based on his fundamentals.

Angela L: I do all the old school styles. I’ve been trained. Hip-hop style is kind of my grimy thing.

Kie: For me, it’s dance hall and reggae. My backbone is Caribbean and reggae. Hip-hop wise, east coast is more of my flavor. I still combine everything with dance hall somehow.

Kyle: For me, old school is like one of my favorite things to do, basically, is to train. I also do a lot of house and a lot of new school stuff, but I keep it versatile. If something new comes up, I try to learn it and go back to my roots after.

Angela A: We should also mention Cam. Cam’s into breaking and isolation.

Angela L: He’s more new school.

Angela A: Myself, I am more new school, contemporary, and salsa.

Bringing so many flavors within the crew, if you don’t keep reinventing yourself, no matter how many different types of style you bring it, it’ll eventually go old. How does Lyrical Thesis stay on top of things?

Angela L: Well I think the main thing is that even though we are all teachers and professional dancers. We are always taking classes.  No matter how old you are, you have to keep learning till you are dead.  Otherwise, You’ll get behind.

That’s really rare because a lot of people jump to the transition and go straight to teaching.

Angela A: Yea, you have to keep taking class. Think about it, if you are teaching like 10 hours a day, your inspiration goes. You need to keep refilling yourself.

Kyle: Just keep looking for inspirations.

Angela A: We travel to dance. A lot of us will go to Toronto, New York, L.A, and Portland.

Yea, you guys just came back from the island?

Angela L: Kyle and I, we teach on the islands. Angela and I, we just came back from Portland. We did the Monsters of Hip Hop Convention.

Angela A: I was in New York in September.

Kie: I was Toronto in the summer.

Angela L: We are going to L.A again in March.

Kie: When someone catches your eye, one of my things is that I really want to learn from them – not just to emulate their style or anything, but find inspirations from them. We all have our idols.

Is there an idol that everyone in the crew looks up to as a whole?

Angela L: I think our main idols are the main people that created hip-hop because they didn’t have anyone to look up to – they created it themselves. They came from nothing, they came from scratch, right? They just kept building and building.

If dance were a bomb for you guys, what would it destroy?

Angela L: It would destroy everything!

Kie: Ignorance.

Angela A: Biters!

Kyle: I think dance being so creative there are so many things you can intrude into and to make it transcend just dance. People can understand so many different situations if we aim at it that way. Our pieces always have a theme, whether or not we sit there and think about the message we need to convey. Like the Alice piece we did. We did it off Alice in Wonderland, right? We did it like Alice on an acid trip. The whole time was all of us bothering Alice. We were kind of her demon. At the end she overcomes all of that. Everything we do we have some sort of message. Anything can be targeted if you do it right. Dance can really destroy anything as long as you put your mind into it.

That’s really rare, because a lot of dance crew just aim on making the sickest performance and just nailing it but they rarely think about anything else.

Angela L: The main thing is that no one’s in competition with each other. Everyone is being creative at their own level so everyone can inspire each other.

Kie: As long as we are working together and sharing.

Angela L: Sharing is caring.

Angela A: That’s our way to live.

Angela L: Honestly I wouldn’t know what to do if it wasn’t dancing.

You guys said that you travel a lot. Have you guys ever thought about making Lyrical Thesis as a collective group of people?

Angela L: I think it’s a great idea. Our main thing is to start off small and see what we can do from there, you know? Yea inspire ourselves was the main thing to keep going and hopefully inspire other people to keep going or join along.

Are there any different dance styles that you guys would like to try in the future?

Angela L: I want to learn how to tap. I know that sounds really cheesy but I would like to learn how to tap.

Kyle: That’s our next challenge.

Kie: Even a full contemporary routine. We also talked about doing Indian Folk. Anything that we can incorporate and make it look good, we’ll do it. As long as we can do it right. I also want to do disco.

Angela: What?

Kyle: Done! That’s our next piece.

Kie: People would love it!

Angela B: I love that.

How do you see dance affecting the youth that follow it?

Angela L: I think dance is really important for the youth. I work with a lot of youth and a lot of inner city youth programs. I think even for myself, it was an outlet to do something different instead of hanging out with the wrong type of people. I also think that as I see the years go by. More and more youth in the city are being involved in dance. It’s the youth that’s going to help us grow our dance culture. It’s not going to be us because once you become an adult it’s harder to have other adults join in than it is to spread it the youth. They are our next generation. For me, when I teach, I want to make sure I past down the right information. When they come up, there’s a standard in place on what’s proper and what’s not.

Kyle: One thing I find is that when kids are little, they are so creative and they don’t care about anything, they will do anything that’s fun right? Once you are a certain age you kind of lose that creatively if you don’t keep doing something that’s artistic. You get nervous and start getting scared about what people think. Your mind is more open when you start early. You keep that inner child in you for the rest of your life.

Angela L: Some of the sick dancers right now, they are all very young.

Kie: One of the best things too, is that dance for children, they all come for different places right? One thing about dance is that you can come to different places and come together and it’s still the same language.

Angela L: Totally.

Kie: Once they figure that out, it helps them form their own community. They can look into dance for their own inspirations.

Angela A: I think it give kids a role model. I find that when I teach a lot of kids, you really become a role model for that child, you know? It’s a great place for kids to connect with other kids and be expressive with their bodies. When you teach them to move and be confident with their bodies, I think it affects a child’s mentality for them just to have confidence.

Kie: And you can put the shyest kid into dance, like a kid that you think wouldn’t do anything. If you see that kid move though, just put on the music, you see them move and they become a whole different person. Dance can let them express something that they don’t usually express.

Kyle: I was the perfect example. I was so shy, if people tried talking to me, I wouldn’t let them – I got so nervous. When I got on the dance floor, I didn’t stop!

What got each of you into starting dance?

Angela A: I guess when I started dancing. I was about 16. I was always an on and off dancer when I was a child. I guess that I found dance as a place where I belong. It opened my creativity. I was always a very imaginative child. I was into acting and modeling. Dance just makes me alive. I was a very under confident kid as well. There was something about dance that everything can go away and I could just do my own thing.

Kyle: For me, I use to get involved in a lot of sports. Soccer, hockey and other sports but I never stayed to it. It started when my sister got involved into dance. Two years after she started, I started in the age of 13. I started with off with hip-hop, and then I went to ballot, jazz, and tap. I tried to do as much as I can in the littlest time. In 1 year. I wanted to do it all. From there, I decided to travel and wanted to learn more and more. I kept going. I saw my sister having a lot of fun in dance. I never saw myself as a dancer as a career but then I enjoyed it all the way. I got involved and was completely sold.

Kie: Mine’s cheesy. When I was 12, Bollywood was the best thing to me – I wanted to be a Bollywood actor. My big sister told me that I had to dance because they are basically musicals. We did a talent show in Grade 7 with six of us. We did a dance and I put it all together. My teacher and my mom said I was a good dancer. My mom and my aunt got me names to these dance schools. I checked them out and went to the only one that had a website, and I started there when I was 13. Started teaching there when I was 15 and it just grew. I moved from Indian to other styles. Dance hall was something I grew up with. I didn’t realize that I could of put into routine until seeing people’s reaction to it. I don’t want to be an actor anymore, but it’s what got me started.

Angela L: I think I am kind of like Angela. I started doing ballet when I was five. I was A.D.D so it wasn’t my thing. At 8, I started doing hip-hop, like, old school hip-hop – MC Hammer style hip hop. I loved it but I never really thought I could use it, you know? I thought it was a recreation thing. I was a freestyle dancer up to the age of 18. Then I went to Harbour one day and took a class and at the end of the class the teacher pulled me out to dance out in front of everybody. That really inspired me to keep going to class, keep taking class. Within a year, people were asking me to teach. From there, I got crazy and addicted.

Where does Lyrical Thesis want to go?

Angela L: We want to travel. Movies, music videos, whatever we can, we want to do it.

Kie: Teach together. Work shops.

Kyle: I see us just being an inspiration everywhere we go. Just try to inspire people and get the feed back and feed off of what people say. Keep people inspired as well as teach and travel.

Angela A: I see, for our performances, us always doing something different and inspiring for other people. Teaching for us too. I see us teaching at different places. It reminds me of a lot of fun. We are just so goofy. I see us just heading that direction. Changing people’s thought when we are on stage.

Kie: Dance is not just for yourself. It’s great to get paid and all that for it. If you can share your wisdom and what you learn, and have fun that way. It’s so much more filling than going hardcore by yourself.

Angela L: I think it’s about breaking boundaries in our mentality as dancers. Just breaking the boundaries within our community as bringing people together as well instead of being so segregated.

Do you guys hang out as a whole?

Angela A: Crew nights! Crew movie nights!

Kie: We are together probably five or six days a week. We are always texting, Facebooking, and emailing, even on the phone and in the car. We are at the studio all the time, but even at the studio, we are still hanging out. When we are taking a break, that’s the worst thing for us because we are dumb silly together.

Bringing those two questions together, and the fact that you were all independent dancers to start off with, what if there was a really big chance to really go far with your own career? Would either of you take the chance?

Angela L: I would hope so. Because, just because we are as a group and also individuals as well. As a group, we work on ourselves as a group. But you also have to promo yourself as an individual, otherwise you are not getting much work. I would most definitely hope so.

Kie: We are a family too. Family doesn’t go anywhere. We support each other no matter whenever we go. We can all be in different places and we will still be texting. No matter where we are, we are still a family. We will always support each other. If one person gets that chance, go for it. We always help each other too. That’s what’s it all about, it’s not always about yourself.

What is HYPE?

Angela A: Kyle! Kype! It’s a joke we have, sorry.

Angela L: He get’s so hyper.

Kie: I had a slip of a tongue one day.

Angela L: HYPE is buck! It’s crazy, it’s getting nasty on stage. It’s exciting.

Angela A: HYPE is an adrenaline rush to me. Something that makes me want to move. Something inspiring. Beyond inspiring.

Kyle: I love when everybody’s energy builds up on stage. It’s that boost. At the end of the day, you getting tired or whatever but you get that second wind. That second wind kicks you right off. It’s that moment. That’s HYPE to me.

Kie: Tying into the mag, HYPE is a movement, no matter if it’s energy, magazine or whatever, it’s something that brings people from all aspects together, under the same belief. Kind of like dance is a language for all of us that do different style. HYPE, no matter what it is, whether it’s energy, the magazine or whatever, it’s something uniting people into one unity.

Since Cam isn’t here, how do you think he would answer this?

Angela A: Cam would probably say inspiration. He gets HYPEd when something inspires him.

Kie: I definitely think Cam would say HYPE is inspiration or something fulfilling.