Jacob Villaman is a Sophomore at Principia College from Truckee, California. He grew up break dancing, which then led him into the world of hip hop and eventually to him being a competitive dancer and teacher. His brother also played an important role in his life as a dancer and he shares why he dances in the Q and A session I had with him in early April.
How did you get involved with dance?
"I have a friend who lives within walking distance to my house. He started dancing when he was eight or nine so a little before me, he is my age, and he has a brother that is my brother’s age and we used to hang out with them all the time. One day he was said “you guys should come to break dancing class and try it out I think you guys would really like it” so we went and tried it and it was really fun! And we just stuck with it, progressed to hip hop and then to contemporary, Jazz and so forth."
What made you want to start dancing?
“My teacher on the first day, you know on the first day you want to impress everyone in the class and on the first day, I wore a pair of bright red pumas, and he complimented them and I was like "Aww sick, he likes my shoes” but I saw also how he demonstrated a higher level of break dancing the first day of class to kind of get us all hooked, and it worked. I saw him do that and I was like dang I really want to be able to do that. Also as a kid, I would always “So you think you can dance?” with a family friend and my brother. I’d always see that on TV and thought that was the coolest thing. I feel like that definitely contributed to it as well."
Do you consider yourself a dancer or just someone who dances?
"I definitely consider myself a dancer because it's really my passion and that’s what gets me going. Anytime I’m feeling a certain way, I’ll just pick some music that matches the mood or if I’m sad, maybe I’ll put on some happier music and I can just channel all of my thoughts or feelings or whatever through dance and it's a part of who I am. So I would definitely say yes I am a dancer, not just someone who dances because it’s part of my identity. "
Why do you choose to dance today?
"I choose to dance and keep dancing just because of the feeling that it gives me in my body and how it allows me to express myself. I love to perform for people and that gives me a huge natural high of just being on stage and performing as big as I can.
Giving other people and letting other people experience by watching, listening and feeling what I’m experiencing on stage.
I want to be able to help people or make people feel any way that I want them to through dancing. So I can translate how I’m feeling through the visual. I haven’t been able to perform as much recently. But the two things would be performing and the music in my head, and a way for me to move as naturally as I can and it gives me kind of an outlet. "
Do you prefer being a dancer or choreographer more?
"I would say both, definitely both, any chance to perform, I love that. In the past few years, I’ve started performing my own choreography and setting my choreography on both my crew here as well as my own class I taught, three years ago now. But I love to choreograph as well. Especially getting to perform my choreography is so much fun to me because I know exactly how I want it to feel and what I think looks the coolest or the best. I get to express myself in the most, me, way that I can."
Favorite experience dancing:
"When we moved to Spain, we joined a brand new dance crew and it was a competition crew and we learned three little sections of different pieces from two different choreographers, trained, trained and cleaned. Then turned it into our performance piece. Even though it was our first time as a crew all together. We performed three different prestigious competitions and won all three of them for our section, so that was incredible and especially I would say the first time was like "wow" that was legit, “we are actually really good” ...we were the ones the judges saw and they were giving us the feeling of really performing it."
"The next year my whole family went back to Spain for Urban Display, which is one of the biggest competitions in Spain. My brother and I competed with a duet piece that my teacher choreographed back at home. We entered into the adult category as 14 and 16-year-olds, we were competing against other duets all over Europe. There were people from France, Italy, even a group from Russia, They were all much older than us and we placed 3rd in that category and that was a really really good feeling, just to know that we can actually compete at this high level in Europe and still do fairly well against other very experienced pieces. That feeling of going up on stage and getting that prize was like "wow", cause that’s when it starts getting into cash prizes, like oh dang that’s pretty cool, you know. "
These photos were taken in early March at Principia College in the McVay Center for the Performing Arts, Dance Studio.