Dazaun Soleyn is a teaching artist and choreographer in the Bay Area and is artistic director of dazaun.dance. Dazaun graduated from the University of South Florida with a BFA in Modern Dance Performance and Choreography and subsequently became a Trainee at the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program. He has performed works by Sidra Bell, Kara Davis, and Maurya Kerr and was a company member of Robert Moses Kin. Dazaun’s teaching credits include the Alonzo King LINES Ballet School, University of South Florida, Gibney Dance Center, America’s Ballet School, Dance Mission Theater, and ODC Commons. Dazaun was featured in Red Medjellekh’s popular Dancers Vs. Trump dance film.
The mission of dazaun.dance is to create holistic art that illuminates the dynamic fullness of the human soul. Dazaun cultivates a movement playground for artists to create work that investigates new perspectives of the human experience on stage.
How did you start dancing?
To be honest, I have been dancing since I was a baby. There is a VHS of my 1st birthday party where you will see little smiling Dazaun giving a strong bounce for a solid 2 minutes, and I swear I was on beat! I watch it now and gratefully say to myself “… That was the seed that started it all.”
What’s an early (or favorite) dance memory?
Oh man, there are so many. I am actually smiling so hard right now. My favorite dance memories are typically awkward, now laughable, situations that my friends and I got into because we were determined to get the step and being READY for the stage! I specifically remember my best friend, a classmate, and myself had three days to create a new piece, for a college showcase, and all the studios in the dance department were booked. So our next best option was outside… on the concrete… with our sneakers… and my speaker… in the Florida heat… dancing for our lives!
What project are you working on, and what are you eager to share about this project?
I am currently working on producing existence, my company’s first show and it’s set to premiere at Dance Mission the weekend of April 20th. With this work, I am using my background in hip-hop, contemporary and floor techniques to reveal the complex beauty of the minority experience with code switching.
What I am most eager to share about this project are the artists that I get to work with. They are incredible! They are living, breathing demonstrations of passion. These humans are incredibly versatile, luscious, generous, nuanced, expressive, pure raw talent. Thank you Giordan (Gio) Cruz, Claire Fisher, Suzette Sagisi and Linda Steele.
Describe what it’s like to live and work in the Bay Area right now.
Absolutely amazing! The Bay Area is perfect for me. Living here allows me to have a rigorous career grind while still doing some deep soul searching and healing during a Tuesday night hike. To be honest there are always deadlines to meet, emails to answer, 16+ classes a week to teach, rehearsals to direct, while still trying to drink enough water, be a vegetarian, foster a healthy love life, and be a vessel for God to use on a daily basis. It’s a lot, but for me it’s the type of environment that I strive in. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world but don’t get me wrong, I want to experience the world. (All of it!) The Bayhas also gifted me with a group of friends and mentors that are willing to support my ever evolving career. They consistently push me to produce my highest quality of work, while giving me more shoulder to cry on then I can count. haha
What’s your neighborhood/community? Where do you spend your time?
I live in Oakland near Mills College but all of my jobs are in San Francisco. To be honest, I feel like my neighborhood is my car. Traffic is my lover and friend. My car, Bae, is where I spent most of my time. Bae is the only way that I can make it from a rehearsal at ODC that ends at 3:30pm to Vis Valley by 4pm to teach a youth hip hop class. I don’t mind the time in my car because it allows me to listen to Shonda Rhimes on Audiobook, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, SZA, and Oprah… lots of Oprah.
What’s a hope that you have for the arts ecosystem in your community?
My hope is that spaces for art making remain accessible/affordable for the art makers. Also, my secret wish is that one day we will have a system like “class pass” but for shows. We can call it “show pass.” With your “show pass” people would pay a monthly fee and they could go see as many dance shows as they wish. It will be simple, you pay your fee, flash your “show pass” at the box office and boom: artists can support artists without sacrificing dinner or rent money.
What event(s) will we find you at this spring?
You will find me dancing for my life at my company’s first show, existence.
The LINES Ballet Training Program Showcase on May 26th.
The Duhnam workshop at Dance Mission this spring, sweating for/with my ancestors!
What (or who) is inspiring you right now?
Love is my biggest inspiration. For me, it is the most powerful and beautiful teacher that we have in this realm.
I am also inspired by SZA, her talent and the vulnerability on her latest album, Ctrl, shifted my views on storytelling. My best friend Alexeya EM, she’s a true artist that can literally do anything, and she is one of the main reasons why I work as hard as I do. Also, I recently got introduced to Shigeru Ban’s architectural works. He is incredible, set a reminder for yourself to look him up.
What’s a piece of advice have you been given that you still hold on to today?
“if there’s not something in your life that pushes you to the point where the pee is running down your leg then you ain’t living big enough… if you know everything and if you’re in charge of everything you ain’t living… that why you gotta trust your God [and allow your dream to] push you beyond your comfort zone and take you out of the know into the unknown with faith and trust in yourself” – Auntie Iyanla Vanzant