CS: More than somewhere to learn to dance, it seems like Divas of Compton is a place that dancers can call home. How did you manage to create such a strong sense of community within the group?
KB: Many of the Divas of Compton have experienced hardships and have to deal with trauma. It is our goal to help them navigate through murky waters and to find strategies that will help them overcome these issues.
CS: You’ve said that through dance, you hope to help your students find the leader within them. How do you guide them to this empowering realisation?
KB: We offer small group counseling and chat sessions with health and wellness professionals in the community. In addition, we identify issues plaguing the youth in the community and address solutions so that the Divas learn the art of being solution driven and identifying answers to problems they face.
CS: Dance is an incredible form of self-expression and allows us to channel our emotions in a positive manner. Do you think dance can be a cathartic way to help us come to terms with our feelings or perhaps the past?
KB: The Divas use Dance as a tool to express their emotions, rather than feel anger, resentment, happiness, joy or sadness, they can use Dance as a way to physically release their emotions in a safe space. Sometimes I visualize specific themes or messages that I would like to relay through Dance and then my coaches and co create choreography along with implementing the feelings of the dancers in the performance. Some issues we have targeted in the past have been the issue of human trafficking, and we’ve even been able to express the pain that comes from some of our youths who feel abandoned and left alone as children to fend for themselves in this world, and we’ve talked about young girls coming into their sexuality and looking for love in all the wrong places and the need for guidance and mentorship.
CS: You coach an impressive range of dance styles. Do you find that you associate different styles with different emotions or attitudes? Or does it vary depending on the energy of the individual routines?
KB: The Divas of Compton are known for Battle Dancing as well as Praise Dancing. On one hand, we express and use battle-street dancing to help release frustration, anger, resentment, and the need to want to fight against all the things that are oppressing us. We use Praise Dance to express our feelings of gratitude and humility for the blessings that we’ve received. We are a delicate balance of street, classy and educated. The Divas are well-rounded and balanced Dancers and Leaders.