What happens when two dancing souls come together? They create art.
It was a Saturday evening. I decided to walk around downtown Tucson after a photo shoot I had for my website. I took some nice photos here and there until I stumbled upon a big crowd of people huddled around something on the corner of the street. Of course, I wanted to see what was getting their attention so I made my way through the crowd and once I saw what it was I knew right away that I wanted them to be the first to be recognized on my website. This was not a crowd, this was an audience. A group of teenagers were dancing, not just dancing though but intrigued all these people by sharing different styles of body movement, passionately, through music. Each individual had their own unique form of art; they all meshed so well together they put on a show. Once I found the opportunity to approach one of the girls standing on the side, I was directed to the boy sitting on the big, white, old-school stereo and the guy standing next to him...
Ying and Yang.
It was back in middle school, when one of Ismael's friends wanted to shove nasty bread into Cris's mouth and force him to eat it. But Cris fought back (literally) and walked away. Ismael then felt the need to show Cris some respect for what he just did, shook his hand and that is how they met. I know... boys and their respect.
Ismael went to LA in the summer of 2009, got into shuffling (footwork, gliding) and returned home to study this movement through dub-step. He had started dancing while Cris was more into par-core and free running. Upon re-kindling the loss of contact for a few months after the bullying incident, Cris also got into dancing his sophomore year of high school after seeing Step Up 2 (Ismael was inspired by You Got Served). Their common interest has always been music, whether it was beat boxing or dance, they both understood the beauty behind music equally. As they started dancing together, they recognized how much their unique styles of dance complimented each other. Although they were completely different in many ways, they just clicked. "We can read each others steps."
"We don't just speak, we say things that we cant regularly say with our bodies. Our bodies are our expression. Its the way that I can express myself freely when I cant use words," explains Cris. "All the emotions you can think of can be portrayed though dance, it amazes me," he adds. "The floor is our canvas. I'm really humbled that I got to experience the studio life because a lot of kids don't get to experience that."
"It's a lifestyle. It's become second nature to me. It's a good way to get your feelings out," Ismael says.
A week after joining a dance crew in a town (Nogales, AZ) with no dance culture, the crew just fell apart but it motivated and inspired them to start their own crews, become competitive and find other individuals who were interested in dance as much as they were. But again, nothing stuck. Things would slowly fade away but Cris and Ismael always stayed together.
When Cris moved up to Tucson, he was able to take advanced dance class at Cholla High School. A guest teacher recruited him into XL crew, through which he found out about Second Saturdays (a re-occuring street fair in downtown Tucson). He then told Ismael about this opportunity to dance in public and from then on they practice their dance in front of the public eye. Second Saturday brings together all the dance crews: XL crew, Chili beans crew, Smurf-Ent crew, Less Avenge crew, Motion Outlaws, and them... Ying & Yang.
Cris prepares to dance in public by practicing beforehand, whereas Ismael simply prepares himself mentally through his imagination. "We never get nervous," they claim. They each dance every day.
So why the name Ying & Yang? "Opposites make sense. Me and him are opposites. Two opposites make a whole. So we just decided Ying & Yang would be the best fit," explains Cris. "Cheesy but to the point," adds Ismael.
Blueprint from Dragonhouse is Ismael's main inspiration. Le twins (the french duo that sparked them to become a duo) and B-boy Physicx are Cris's inspiration's.
Cris always stays in touch with his roots. "If you don't have your roots then what do you really have?" says Cris. He found his boombox, before he got into dancing in a studio, in a thrift shop that sells audio parts and stereos. "Really handy when you want to go out and dance somewhere especially when you didn't have a studio to go to."
So what now? "Its not just a hobby. We are going to go somewhere with dance. We're just going to get better. We want to make our idols our competition," they say. They plan on doing a heartbreak concept video to Ray-J's "One Wish". The beat is on point and the words inspire them. So stay tuned...
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in your life as of now?
Ismael Sepulveda [aka liquid], representin' San Diego, CA: "Be humble."
Cris Barajas [aka B-boy Powerhouse], representin' Nogales/Tucson, AZ: "Persevere through thick and thin."
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