We are honoured to present to you Djidawi from Grande-Synthe, North of France. He is one of the most inspirational dancers of his generation. His original style opened the minds of many poppers to explore creativity and he showed us what great battling is. He ended his career at a young age but on a high, by winning Cercle Underground and judging Juste Debout in 2014.
Although retired from dancing, his passion for hip hop is still strong as he has started a unique project to help the development of our scene. Check out his deep & insightful responses into his journey, his project and more.
You started popping and competing at a young age, who supported you in your journey?
I started at 12 years old!! One guy from my city took care of me in the beginning. His name is Lahcen and now he organises the event “B-boy France”. He showed me basic stuff of popping, locking and hip-hop, what we called “hype” at this time. His brother Omar helped me too and a lot of people from my hood too.
Did you have a crew?
Yes of course! Our first crew name was “59760”, the area code of my city. We did a lot of shows and creative projects in the beginning but when we started to do battles we thought that this name was too difficult to remember and to say haha. So, we changed it. We chose 59krew in which there are B-boy Abdel and Juanito (the locking dancer).
Your style is very unique, how did you develop it?
When I started to dance creativity and character was an important part in hip-hop dance. If you don’t have this nobody will look at you. So I just did what I liked and believed in what I did. For me it was logical to think like that because I learned hip-hop with this base in mind. I began to train the basics hard for a long time. Then I started to develop them with some exercises and methods.
How was it perceived by the scene?
At the beginning it was ok because I didn’t have a ‘name’ so people supported me in what I did and I had good feedback when I danced. When I started to build my name and show my dance in some events I heard some bad things about my style. But for me it was positive because they say things that I want to do. Some people said it’s hip hop dance not popping etc. but years after people did the same thing. To be honest I was never really hurt about these things. My victory was when some inspirational people gave me good feedback and encouraged me to continue to do my thing. These are my trophies!
Was there a point when you realised that you had your own style that differs a lot from everyone else?
Yes! I started to realise this when a few people gave me the same feedback.
What advice would you give to people who are trying to find their own voice?
First, you have to know yourself. Without this it’s too hard to have your own style or to enjoy what you do. Second, learn your culture and your style. Who created this move? Why? Some questions which will help you in your creativity! Third, believe in your idea and what you like. It will be the foundation of your style. Fourth, don’t be scared to make some mistakes or be afraid of what people will say to you. And the last thing, exchange with other people! Not just people who dance the same style but with people from different styles, cultures and background.
How did dance change you as a person?
I think I developed some capacity in my career. I like to take some risks in life. I try different things every time and I love to learn from other people. Like in dance I try to find some inspiration in my life too. I use the same method to create something in my life that I use in dance. When I started to work for some event or brands I took a few months to learn a lot about negotiation and e-reputation. I had the chance to start dance when we didn’t have Internet so when social media came I knew that I had to learn how to use it! So I look at how famous people in other domains worked and used to help their reputation.
Is there someone on the scene who you would like to battle, even after you have retired?
Hum… yes. Jaygee! I like how he plays with Boogaloo style and his maturity! He has very good connection in his body and he makes it look easy to do haha. For me, he enters in the elite of Boogaloo dancers like Boogaloo Sam, Skeeter, Walid and Acky. He is the best of his generation, by far. Also, Future and Rashaad. I really like what they produce and they have their own style. We have the same direction in mind but develop our styles in a different way. So I would like to learn and exchange with dancers like that! By the way, I like too many dancers and I like dancers who try to master their style. Even in England I think poppers are in that good way. Marvel, Breakz, Brooke and others have their style and show an ‘English touch’.
How would you like to see the scene develop? What would you add for things to be better?
I would like to see the scene to be more structured. I wanna see some people educate young people to know what hip hop life is! A lot of kids start to dance and want to do this like a job but sometimes they know too late that it’s really difficult to realise it. It’s for this reason that I created “UP”. UP is my life coaching and personal development project. I want to help people to know themselves and to achieve its goal’s life or dance. Sometimes you need somebody who will accompany you in your challenges. I want to share my experiences to help others and to give them what I didn’t have had in times of need.
Is there something in your dance career that you would still like to achieve?
Not really! I achieved all my goals in my dance career. Now I want to do another thing and I like challenges! But I still love the hip-hop dance and since I stopped my career I still stay in contact everyday with people from around the world that I met in my career. I like to exchange with them, give some advice etc.
Do you think you need to be a good dancer to be a good teacher?
This is a good question! For me teacher and dancer are totally different. When you dance it’s for yourself first so if you are not a good dancer it’s not a problem for us who look at you. But when you teach it’s to give something to another dancer so you have a big responsibility! If you want to teach you need to have good foundation and know what you talking about. You don’t need to be the best dancer in the world but you have to be sure that what you teach is good. So for that you have to learn how to dance and how to teach before you teach. I saw many teachers who taught without any pedagogical practices and/or have not taken any formal teacher training.
I started to learn how to teach at 13 years old. I assisted my teacher in different classes for 4 or 5 years. At the same time I took some courses about kinesiology and human movement and another course on how to teach kids from 6 years old. I took a lot of dance workshops to learn dance and to see how the dancer give classes too. I never stopped learning during 14 years on how to teach a class.
So, to be a good teacher you have to be a good dancer who works on his methods of teaching. But a good dancer doesn’t mean a famous dancer. So the question now is: what is a good dancer? Haha
Is there anything you would like to add?
Do what you like and work to achieve your goals! There is nothing better than to feel good when you achieve something! If you want to know how to be more confident then try some methods to develop your creativity and also check out my project “UP”, contact me on my Facebook page [Djidawi Legionx fiftyninekrew] if you want to know more!