Mills sophomore Jazmyne Bisquera stands in the middle of Hip Hop Dance Club after running through her choreography and begins describing options for how her peers can show their personality through their movements.
Bisquera was recently accepted into Culture Shock Oakland, a hip hop dance crew that started in 1993 and is a part of the larger company, Culture Shock, that has branches in cities all over the United States. Culture Shock has performed in venues such as the Superbowl half time show and the World of Dance event.
Kim “Mama Kim” Sims-Battiste, executive creative director of Culture Shock Oakland, viewed Bisquera’s audition and hopes Bisquera will become a role model for the younger students as she said Bisquera has everything she needs to embody what Culture Shock is about. Sims-Battiste recalls what stood out about Bisquera’s performance.
“She had a very humble quality about herself,” Sims-Battiste said. “As humble as she was, she was strong.”
She auditioned at the encouragement of Javier Santos, entertainment director of Culture Shock Oakland, when he guest taught a Hip Hop Aerobics class and saw her style. So far, she has gone to eight rehearsals, mostly cardio intensives where they run a mile, and do 200 abdominal exercises.
“The conditioning is intense, but being able to dance is worth it,” Bisquera said.
Bisquera started dancing in 8th grade, after attending a performance of a family friend’s hip hop dance company. While she had a little experience in tap and jazz by then, Bisquera did not consider herself a dancer.
“I remember thinking ‘oh my gosh, this dance form is a way for people to express any part of themselves that they want to,” Bisquera said, “and it doesn’t matter what they look like, it doesn’t matter what they can move like, it doesn’t matter that my legs are shorter than his legs.’”
After that performance, Bisquera started taking classes from her family friend. When her friend saw how excited Bisquera was about this dance style, she encouraged Bisquera to join her dance company, Expressive Dance.
Marc Roy, the hip hop director of Expressive Dance, remembers Bisquera when she first started as shy and reserved.
“As she found her voice in dance, she got spunkier,” Roy said. “That’s who she is. That’s what she does, so anything she does artistically has a little bit of hip hop in it.”
Now, Bisquera is the president and teacher of the Hip Hop Dance Club, where her spunkiness shows up in her choreography. As she teaches a move, she always gives options for her students to show their personality, setting a choreography framework that they can use to express themselves in their own way.
One of the reasons why she keeps coming back to hip hop is because it is a universal language to her.
“Hip hop was a way to use your body as a voice,” Bisquera said. “I think that the reason why I keep falling in love with hip hop and keep wanting to do it is because of how it is a universal language for something that’s so individual.”
She is excited about dancing with Culture Shock because they teach about the history and culture of hip hop, not just the moves. However, it will be a challenge since she has not danced professionally for two years.
Bisquera looks forward to all her performances in the future, and hopes to continue hip hop dance club as a way to share her love of the culture and language with other people.
“Hip hop is such a good tool for bringing people together, even if they don’t have any shared background,” Bisquera said.