September 10 started red bulls latest creative contest, Dance your style. Beginning in Boston, the qualifying competition brought together 16 countries from across the United States to dance one-on-one. Dance Your Style connects the dots for diversity, creativity and inclusion, but the spaces created for women are noteworthy. While dance encourages freedom of expression, women are often excluded, suffocated and locked up. Like many social systems, dance is structured to limit women. Those who push beyond expectations are both exploited and shamed for their bodies and their sexuality. While some women find ways to navigate the industry, some choose to walk away. As society progresses, there has been a huge increase in the conversation around female empowerment, something that is needed in the industry. In town for the qualifying competition, talented and innovative dancers, Angyil and Dassy showed off their moves and gave insight into the importance of female empowerment.
After a dance workshop led by Angyil herself, Dassy cut it with me in the heart of Boston to talk about empowering women in dance. Angyil would give her own perspective, but only after losing herself in the music for a few more minutes. Angyil and Dassy, two iconic Red Bull dancers, have spent years growing with their craft, leading their own teams and training dancers from all walks of life. Just as they naturally gravitated towards all things dance, the two share the same appreciation for empowering women in the industry. Navigating gender inequality in the dance industry, Angyil and Dassy reclaim their bodies and their sexuality. With two very distinct cultural and stylistic horizons, they have many differences but their passion is the same. “How did I come to dance? To be honest, I don’t remember ever getting away with it,” says Angyil.
From backyard barbecues to family reunions, Angyil’s love of dancing has always been there. Similar to her passion, she always believed and felt that her body belonged to her. A feeling more women deserve to feel, Angyil never lost what was his. “In order to get something back, you should have lost it in the first place,” she said. That’s not to say the presence of objectification and disempowerment for women isn’t present in dance, but for women like Angyil, her unwavering confidence and passion floats her across the dance floor. .
Dassy, born in South Korea, shares similar sentiments about female empowerment, but her journey has been different. “I started dancing when I was 9. I loved watching all the dancers on TV and copying their moves. I would gather my friends and we would play”.
Shortly after her debut, she transitioned into street dancing, sparring, and freestyle. After moving to America, she devoted her time to learning the history of street dancing. The South Korean dance community is both diverse and organized, allowing Dassy to immerse himself in many dance styles. For many women entering the dance industry, technique and style are often taught by men. Draped in loose clothing, Dassy tried to find her place in predominantly masculine rooms. “I wore baggy clothes thinking that was the only way to get respect,” she said. “When I moved to America, I was around 21 and I was starting to feel and embrace my body more, crew, and just make myself. Receiving harsh comments about her appearance while she was performing didn’t bother her. allowed only to push back and continue to push for other women in the industry.
In an industry that isn’t always kind to women, it was women who dominated Boston’s qualifying. Female empowerment isn’t exclusive to Red Bull’s Dance Your Style, but it’s important that these spaces exist. New York-born Beasty battled through brackets of talented dancers and ultimately defeated runner-up Gutta. As the competition continues, keep a close eye on whoever kills it on the dance floor. Follow the next competition live on Caffeine.