Highlighting the Activities of Artists/Organizations in Our Region
Alicia “the Dance Dragon Slayer” Langlais is a self-described dance entrepreneur; whose work includes teaching and coaching. Alicia says she hopes that her students “find the inspiration and courage through my classes, workshops, and coaching to slay and reclaim that human birthright to dance and allow it to be a vehicle that brings them back into alignment with their bliss and authenticity.” Dancers’ Group asked Alicia a few questions to share more about her teaching and activities.
How did dance enter your life?
The dance bug bit me HARD when my mother took me to see Swan Lake at Lincoln Center in New York City when I was 4 years old. Perhaps my mother could see something in me that told her I would appreciate it because I have a 4-year-old son now and I know, FOR SURE there’s no way he’d ever be able to sit through something like that!
My mom says that as soon as the first ballerina hit the stage I gasped in awe. I was in LOVE with Dance and it would be an affair that will last for the rest of my life.
I asked my mom to put me in Ballet lessons. Thinking I couldn’t tell the difference, my mother put me in tap. Though tap was fun, it was NOT ballet. I wouldn’t find my way into a ballet class until I was 7 years old. I attended Kat’s Dance School, a small boutique Dance school in the Bronx that was made from a converted studio apartment. I was taught by Ms. Lori Baird, whom I love dearly and still connect with today. I’m greatly indebted to her for the trajectory she set me on through her teaching and nurturing.
Simultaneously, my North Bronx neighborhood was thriving with Afro-Urban culture, as Hip Hop, Dancehall, and Soca oozed from the seams of the city. The Caribbean flavors were ubiquitous as my neighborhood was primarily comprised of Caribbean immigrants, including my own family. So while I did not realize I was receiving dance “training” from all the fun my friends and I would have, I now appreciate that Afro-Urban dance and music culture are a part of my identity being that they were so influential in my formative years.
How would you describe your style?
My dance and choreographic style is less moves, more grooves. Afro-Pop meets Caribbean Vibes laced with ballet technique and contained in free-spiritedness.
Describe your Diaspora Dance classes?
Diaspora Dance is a Caribbean Vibes meets Afro Pop non-stop dance party class! Half dance fitness, half dance technique choreography, ALL FUN! My class features poppin’ music and contemporary dance styles from across the African Urban Diaspora including Afro-Pop from West Africa and Soca, Dancehall, & Reggaeton from the Caribbean!
After we heat it up with Dance Fitness routines and learn a vocabulary of authentic movements with across-the-floor work, the class culminates in an Afro-fusion routine that captures the vibes of the cultures that progressed each dance style.
My class is peer non-competitive by design. Each class begins with a moment to express gratitude for life, goal-setting, and a commitment to use class time to witness, support, and celebrate one another in the learning process. The choreography is designed to challenge you as a mover, but my teaching style is designed to nurture and guide you through that process…and also make you laugh, holler, and sweat!
How and when did Diaspora Dance get started?
I would say that the foundation for the choreographic structure of Diaspora Dance started while I was at the Hipline studio in Oakland. At the time, the class was called Hipline Technique: Afro Vybez. Though the choreography and style were always my own, the experience was folded into the Hipline brand. When I left Hipline in 2017, I continued to expand on the same teaching structure, adding in more elements of my Dance Dragon Slayer inspirational all-levels inclusive teaching approach and created space for student-led participation in each class. Also, there was more focus on what truly moved me as an artist musically and stylistically, as I was learning more about myself as a choreographic teacher rather than just dance fitness, which I had been doing for years.
I was able to dive more deeply into developing the Diaspora Dance brand which embodies my personal values of Culture, Creativity, Community, and Charity. I partnered with Carla Service of Dance-A-Vision, who had been supporting me as a dancer for years, and she brought Diaspora Dance into the Malonga Center for the Arts. This was a huge step as I was able to join a legacy of amazing, well respected, and long serving community artists by teaching in such a monumental space. It really solidified Diaspora Dance as part of the new wave of contemporary Afro-Urban dance artists adding to the culture of this great city of Oakland.
Do you have a favorite dance performance or memorable moment?
My favorite moment was when I was facilitating a MASSIVE freestyle circle in one of the Jack London Square events hosted by Carla Service. There were about 300+ people and the energy was electric as this circle was happening after I lead a dance class. I mean everyone was on fire. I was trying to make it so that a few people, may be two or three, went at a time. But more and more people kept joining the center. I tried to hold folks back a little and just decided, “what the hell!” I gave the signal for everyone to come in and the circle was swallowed by joyously moving human bodies! A full out party had erupted! It was AMAZING, every race, age, gender, ability, we were ALL dancing our hearts out under the stars! It was a moment the truly embodied why I do this work…to make dance accessible to EVERYONE!
What about your work inspires you?
As a dance teacher and Dance Inspiration Coach, I’m so inspired by the transformation I see in my dance students, especially the ones that come to me initially dealing with some serious Dance Dragons. Dance Dragons are what I call those voices in your head that criticize you when you make a mistake, convince you to dance inhibited by fear, guilt, or shame, or prevent you from dancing at all. They push limiting beliefs that you are not worthy to dance which, in my opinion, is contrary to authentic human experience. I believe we were ALL born to dance. So I provide experiences where many can begin to slay those Dance Dragons.
What activities do you have coming up?
I’m so excited to launch my new online course! This course will allow everyday movers and dancers to learn my Dance Dragon Slayer Mindset Transformation formula so that they gain greater confidence and eliminate anxiety. Students will be able to OWN their value, passion, and potential as everyday movers and dancers and make real steps towards living their dance dreams personally and professionally. I use this formula exclusively with my one-on-one clients as a Dance Inspiration Coach and now I’m excited to be sharing it in a way that allows me to help more people.
I am also excited about my upcoming workshops including Absolute Beginner Afro Dance, Slay Your Dance Dragons Movement Confidence and Afro-Fusion Mindset Transformation Workshop, Curvy Queens Afro Dance workshop, and the annual Dance Dragon Slayer Inspiration Conference, which will feature more amazing diverse and inspirational dance teaching artists.
What’s a future goal or dream?
Through my online courses, I will connect with more Dance Dragon Slayers around the world. So my dream is to hosts retreats so that the far reaching community will have a chance to meet in a beautiful location to heal, celebrate, dance, inspire, and slay!
What (or who) is inspiring you right now?
I’m really inspired by Danielle Leslie and Ashani Mfuko. Danielle Leslie created the #CourseFromScratch online course that teaches entrepreneurs, of all kinds, how to create online businesses. I am enrolled in this course and excited to learn how to convert the quality experiences I’ve created in my in-person classes, workshops, and coaching into a results driven high quality online experience. Ashani Mfuko is a Business Strategist for Dancers. She is also a mom with three children. I’ve been working closely with her for guidance and inspiration. Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be quite solitary work. So, I’m glad I have her as a resource. These two amazing, Black, women entrepreneurs have built careers that inspire me to feel confident that not only can I accomplish my life purpose through dance, but it can also be a key to financial freedom.
Do you have a favorite dance move?
My favorite dance move is a commercial Afro-Pop move called Fuji. I subconsciously wind up putting it in the majority of my choreography. I also love to wine my waist. Though I’m not as good at it as so many amazing movers out there, I really love that you’ll find wining as a foundational move among Black cultural dances all over the world
A favorite song or type of music to dance to?
I absolutely love Soca and Afrobeats! They just make me feel GOOD!
What advice have you been given that you still hold on to today?
Know your worth and trust the timing of your life. Those are pieces of advice I apply in all areas of my life, especially as a dance entrepreneur.
What haven’t we asked?
I’d like people to know that I used to have a paralyzing fear of dance. I started training as a child, but I became burnt out over the years and I let me Dance Dragons get the best of me. I used to be ashamed of the fact that I quit dancing, especially because I thought dance was the only thing that made me special or worthy as a human being. And because I missed several years of training due to my fear, I used to be embarrassed by my rusty technique compared to my peers that continued their training. But now I know that it was this journey back to dance, this journey back to self-acceptance that allows me to connect with so many people. And so, I find inspiration in my own story.
Find Alicia’s teaching schedule and learn more at alicialanglais.weebly.com