Tag: Power

International dance star Dosu on the power of breakin’, and heading to the Olympics / Queerty

International dance star Dosu on the power of breakin’, and

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.

Bonus pics: 

A Queer-Inclusive Picture Book About the Power of Voting

A Queer-Inclusive Picture Book About the Power of Voting

As we head into the fall and one of the most momentous elections in our nation’s history, voting is more important than ever. A new picture book about voting and civic engagement is both timely and queer-inclusive.

V Is for Voting - Kate Farrell

V Is for Voting, an alphabet book written by Kate Farrell and illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald (Henry Holt), offers simple phrases and sentences for each letter, all related to voting and democracy. “A is for active participation. B is for building a more equal nation,” it begins. We read about a Free Press, those who Govern, Judges (with a close-up of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s famous white jabot), and more, while learning the importance of Engagement, Questions, Teachers, Working for change, and other concepts, all depicted with Kuhwald’s bold, bright illustrations.

We meet a variety of activists and leaders, including Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges, Cesar Chavez, O. J. Semans, Patsy Takemoto Mink, and Ida B. Wells, along with Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter and many more. They’re not named in the text itself, but a page at the end tells us who they are. Along with the famous people, however, a diverse group of young people and their parents march, speak out, help each other, and seek to learn more about our country and its democratic processes. Several pages show peaceful protests and marches; others show community members helping each other or working side-by-side. A few anthropomorphic animals in some of the marches seem odd at first, but perhaps they’re intended to remind us of the need for environmental justice that impacts all creatures.

I particularly appreciated that on the page for Suffrage, the text notes, “This fight is ongoing, not history’s footnote.” A Voting Rights timeline at the end also takes us from 1787, when the U.S. Constitution was written, through 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, “allowing states with a history of discrimination to pass new voting laws without federal approval.” There’s a lot to unpack there, and this book doesn’t, but perhaps it will inspire readers (and their grown-ups) to dig deeper with other books and resources.

Most of the pages show positive actions towards change and civic participation; the only one that doesn’t is “H is for homelands that we’ve occupied.” Since this occupation is in fact the tragic and awful underpinning of our whole democratic experiment, that page feels appropriate to include—but parents and teachers may need to explain to young people that it is not, like the concepts on the other pages, something to aspire to.

Harvey Milk is the only famous person shown who is clearly queer (though you can count Eleanor Roosevelt if you like), but several of the unnamed cast carry rainbow signs during protests and marches, which we see them making right on the first page. In one scene, a young person of ambiguous gender wears a rainbow button and carries a sign with the transgender symbol on it, marching arm-in-arm with their mother; they both seem to be of South Asian heritage. On another page, the two are again marching together and the mother is carrying a sign with a rainbow heart. I would have liked to have seen Marsha P. Johnson or another trans activist clearly depicted among the famous people in the book—but at least there’s a young trans person carrying the trans symbol, with the support of their mother, which feels equally important.

The book bears obvious similarities to Rob Sanders’ Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights(my review here) and Innosanto Nagara’s A is for Activist, but doesn’t feel redundant. Nagara’s is a board book for much younger children (though the vocabulary is geared to an older crowd); Sanders’ is specific to activism and protest rather than civic engagement more broadly as in V Is for Voting. That’s not a criticism—all of these perspectives are important, and I heartily recommend all of these books.

Farrell wrote the book “to help even the youngest readers understand why voting is important” and to help them “feel invested in and hopeful for the future of our democracy,” she explained in the press materials. “A government that doesn’t reflect the diversity of its people cannot represent the will of its people.” This year, that message is more important than ever.

Want more kids’ books on social justice? Here are a few.

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)