Over The Influence
As I sat in the audience watching Over The Influence perform at 604 DELITE, I felt like I was witnessing the dancer's equivalent to a Master's thesis. I caught up with this dance crew after their performance to discuss their ideologies surrounding dance, teaching, and building culture.
VO: Can you explain the name Over The Influence?
Stewart: Over The Influence is about having the ability to take everything that influences us…mash it together and take it over the top, so that we can show the world something new.
VO: Is it true that part of your mandate is to break stereotypes?
Yoshi: There are some negative stereotypes associated with Hip-Hop being negative, which is completely false. It’s a stereotype that we would like to break. As you can see from what we did tonight, Hip-Hop is so great for the community. It has the ability to bring culture, music, and different types of people together under the same roof. It makes people smile, clap and cheer. That’s what we're about.
VO: In the first piece you did, you became ninjas, representing earth, air, fire and water. As these ninjas, your dance styles included: house, locking, popping, waacking, breaking, and krumping. This reflects the extremely diverse skill-set of your crew. Within all this versatility, do you find yourselves identifying with any particular style?
Yoshi: There are things that we specialize in as individuals…things that we really love and thrive on. We also love versatility. We want to learn about everything.
Jojo: It’s a movement. It’s a feeling. Right? It involves music, and sometimes music gives you goose bumps, sometimes it make you angry, and sometimes it makes you happy. Dancing is like that. It’s whatever you feel inside.
Latin dancing, for example, makes you feel sensual. African dancing gives you fire and spirituality.
Kung-fu is also like dancing, and we refer to it in terms of the mastery involved. Each of us are masters of our own different style. Stew is a b-boy and Yoshi is a b-boy too. But Yoshi studies Hip-Hop and Stew likes to do isolations…and then Kyle studies jazz and modern. I like funk styles and other genres. We are all masters of movement.
VO: In your second piece, you took the audience through the history of Hip-Hop and discussed its evolution through dance. Can you explain the thoughts behind this piece?
Jojo: This piece gives education to the young and the old, which is important, because the old g’s aren’t listening to the young ones and vice versa. Some kids think they’re making up something new, but it’s actually something from way back…like the twist or the cabbage patch.
Stewart: We did our research, and its perfectly timed in chronological order. We condensed thirty years of Hip-Hop into 12-13 minutes. It things like disco and the feud between the east and west. We showed how Hip-Hop has evolved and changed.
Right now, we're in the youtube era. The youth these days don’t get their education from the old g’s, they get it from the internet. Youtube is their source of knowledge. We wanted to do this to make people ask questions and think about all that.
VO: You are all dance teachers. What is your favorite part about teaching dance?
Yoshi: It’s the inspiration that we get from the kids. It's great for us to inspire them. But, we learn a lot when we’re teaching them. It’s really enjoyable and rewarding.
Kyle: I’ve got to agree with Yoshi on that. Also, when we’re teaching younger kids that haven’t been exposed to a lot of Hip-Hop, its interesting to see how they all have different abilities and different ways of moving. Seeing them smile in class…and seeing that they want to learn more….it’s a blessing to me.
Stewart: My favorite part about teaching includes what they have said. Our crew is focused on giving back to the community and being part of the stepping-stones that allow our community to grow. Being a part of that is more rewarding than anything. Also, the ability to combine your work with your passion is a blessing. There’s probably only 2% of the world able to do that.
Through dance we can communicate with anyone in the world. There’s no talking…it’s just expression. A big thing for me, and I’m sure for all of us…is that we’re leaders, we’re icons, big brothers, friends. Some of us become like counselors. We learn so much about life through spending hours and hours with these kids.
Jojo: We learn from our students, how to communicate properly, how to work with people, how to work with kids, how to make ourselves better, how to be patient, how to be grounded. It's not just the kids learning from us, we’re learning from them too.
Check-out their 2007 Demo Reel on youtube.