This post is part of a series of Queerty conversations with models, trainers, dancers, and, well, people who inspire us to stay in shape–or just sit on the couch ogling them instead.
Name: Dosu, 27
City: Philadelphia, PA. I’m originally from Lima, Peru. I’ve been in the US for six years now.
Occupation: Professional dancer and licensed massage therapist
Favorite Gym: I don’t have a favorite gym. I go with my friends from New Jersey to Crunch, but to be honest, I usually just use parks.
Do you have a favorite exercise playlist? It depends on the day and how I feel. I usually go with hip-hop because it’s just great for break dancing. Sometimes I go with music from the 80s or 90s, pop music from those days. It just depends.
What’s the best food to eat prior to a workout? For me, anyway, I don’t eat much before working out, especially before dancing. I feel that it gets really heavy in my body, and I feel like I don’t have that much energy. So before a work out I will eat some fruit or vegetables before working out. After working out I will eat a very balanced meal.
What’s the best outfit for working out? Sweatpants and a t-shirt.
How do you balance staying in shape and having fun? With COVID it’s kind of hard since there’s not much to do. But usually, I prep 2 days of meals for me and I make sure I stay busy so I don’t think about food. I try not to watch commercials that are food-related because my appetite kicks in. I don’t have sweets in my place. I don’t keep things that are not good for me. When I go shopping, I don’t go hungry.
What’s a basic, if useful, work out tip you can offer? Jogging. That gets you going and makes your lungs stronger. It works for me.
Obviously, dance is a great way to stay prepared. What is it about dance for you that is so satisfying?
What isn’t? It’s everything. I love to dance. I’m Latino; it’s in my veins. As a kid, I would walk by the kitchen and my sister would pull me and just start dancing with me. So I grew up with that. With breakin’ [break dancing], it’s just the feeling of creating. It’s not just about the spins and everything, which are great, and which I love to do. But also, the creativity that comes out of creating new steps. It’s like painting—it’s everything.
Related: Stage star and trainer Sam Leicht, on how sports can build a bridge to queer acceptance
You’re trained in ballet, classical dance, jazz dance. What is it about break dancing that you find so wonderful?
In Peru, I was in the dance corps. I took five years of dance. But when I was there, I saw a group of guys doing spins on their heads. And I fell in love with it. I asked if they could teach me, and they taught me a couple moves. I took it from there. To me, breakin’ took me in. I don’t know exactly why; it just looked so cool. I just wanted to be like them so I went for it.
You’ve spoken quite frankly about the difficulty of coming out within the typically macho, hetero male break dancing world. What was that coming out like?
It wasn’t easy at all. When I was in Peru, most of my friends who were gay were going to ballet. Though I like doing it, I didn’t feel identified with it. So I didn’t come out in Peru at all. It was hard to come out there and not be judged, especially for the breakdancing community. I was already doing great in Peru and getting known as a dancer there. When I moved to the States, I actually came out. I started meeting other dancers and had good friendships with them. I let them know that I’m gay. It was really hard, especially for people that I looked up to. They were celebrities to me. I didn’t know how they’d react when they found out. But people in my group, when I told them, were very supportive. Some other people stopped talking to me. Because I was gay and I was in break dancing—they said “That’s not hip hop.” But I got positive reactions from most people. It was hard, but it was worth it.
When you go through a coming out like that, how does that change your outlook? How does it prepare you for day to day life?
Art in general is therapeutic. When I’m sad, I dance. I mix breakin’ with contemporary styles. I just feel myself and let myself go. If I feel happy, I’ll dance with any type of music. It takes me out of it—whatever I’m going through. When I finish dancing I feel happier. I feel great; it’s like starting my day again.
We hear about how dancers can eat almost anything and still remain in shape. We also hear that often times dancers become enormously overweight later in life. One of those sounds enormously beneficial. How do you avoid the other if you have to stop dancing?
I will never will stop dancing. I will always have time for dancing—that’s one of my priorities in life. But, it’s easier for me now to gain weight than it was before, so I need to be extra careful with what I eat, or control how many calories I eat.
You’re a big advocate of including dancing—specifically, break dancing—as a sport. Why should we think of it as a sport?
It’s very controversial. A lot of people think breaking is dance, that it could never be called a sport. Other people say it is a sport because it’s very gymnastic. It’s dance-sport. It’s going to be part of the Olympics. So I’m really happy—dance is moving forward and people are paying more attention to it. The attention is deserved. I’m all for it. But it’s not just a sport.
How do you work to be prepared for the Olympics physically, emotionally and psychologically?
It’s an everyday thing. I try not to think that far ahead because I’ll get in my head and go crazy. I want to compete in the Olympics. I’ll do that with everyday goals—daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals. I achieve those, and I know it’s going to give me good training. I’ll achieve it. When I get to the Olympics, I’ll be ready.
What do you keep on your nightstand? My mom’s picture and a picture of my two cats. And water.