Lauren, where are you originally from?
Born in San Diego, CA but grew up in Northern VA. Northern VA is a suburban area and dance was not as big as it is now when I was growing up.
What got you into the world of dance?
As a child I started out in gymnastics and ballet, but my parents couldn’t afford both so they made me choose. During one of my first days at the gymnasium, I saw a student get hurt and get hauled out of the building in a stretcher. At that young age I got freaked out, so I chose ballet instead.
Anyone significant in your early childhood influence you to start dancing?
My mother pushed me to dance, which is ironic because you would think my father would have considering he is a ballroom dancer himself. They always went back and forth on whether I should drop out of ballet classes due to the expenses, but somehow we managed.
What eventually gave you a push to do hip-hop dance?
I think because ‘hip-hop’ was more natural to my body than any other style. In high school people considered me a hip-hop dancer. But now that I truly know what hip-hop dancing is, what I did back in the day was definitely not hip-hop.
Do you have a preference for any of the particular styles of dance you do?
No, not really. I’m not an expert per se in any particular style, but my own style is a blend and fusion of everything I’ve learned over the years. My personal style changes depending on my environment and what my body is feeling at the moment.
What are you trying to express as a dancer?
What I want to express changes all the time. It depends on what is going on in my life at the very moment or what I’m feeling. Ask any dancer and they’ll tell you that we dance to express what can’t be said. It’s our voice except in the medium of dance and movement. Sometimes I’m not dancing to express anything, but merely just dancing because it feels good.
Sometimes I’m not dancing to express anything, but merely just dancing because it feels good.
What are your thoughts and feelings about the rise in interest in hip-hop dance? (Given how popular ABDC has become for MTV)
I think it’s about time that all genres of dance are finally being exposed in a different medium. However, like anything on TV or in the media, not all facets of hip-hop dance are always being conveyed in the right light. Audiences need to be knowledgeable and educated in hip-hop history to understand that there is so much more to the hip-hop culture and dance scene than what is shown on a TV show.
Break down a typical dance-filled day for you and how you get in the right state-of-mind to go to the studio or hit the stage.
For rehearsals, I walk in with a sense of openness and curiousness. I have to train my mind to let go of the outside world and loosen up physically and mentally. If we’re about to cipher, I always say a prayer asking that God will just let my body move and dance in a way that is coming from the heart and not from my head. The best feeling is when you can black out and just let your body go. And before a performance, I always say a prayer. I have to hype myself up, but I’m always somewhat nervous. I think I perform better when I’m nervous as opposed to being too chill. I make sure my legs are warm since my calves always tend to tense up, and I always have to drink lots and lots of water to stay hydrated. I also always have to tell myself to breathe, because surprisingly that’s one of the hardest things to remember while dancing.
The best feeling is when you can black out and just let your body go.
How do you approach new performances, shows, or crews?
For new choreography, I have to first decide if I’m trying to say something with the choreography, or if it is merely just movement for movement sake. Almost all the time, I have to be really inspired by the song. If I’m not driven by the music, it is harder for me to dive into my movement vocabulary and create something that substance. Choreographing is a challenge sometimes because as a dancer, we all have that movement vocabulary that our body is very comfortable with, and you can truly see it most when a dancer is free styling. I challenge myself to not only do movement that is natural to my body, but to think outside of the box. My choreography has recently always been a fusion of my technique as well as my hip-hop training.
What do you hope to accomplish as a professional dancer?
I want to continually learn how to be a better dancer and teacher, so that in turn, I can be knowledgeable in both so that I may have the credentials and education to teach the next generation. I want to perform on stage, as well as teach in the studio and mentor the youth.
Any big plans for the next few years?
I’m an open book; whatever is thrown my way. I hope within the next years that I will be either in NYC or in LA pursuing a professional career as a dancer. If not, then helping the youth in the DMV area through dance and mentorship. In addition, I am possibly going to start a dance ministry at my church.
Who would you say is your biggest supporter?
My mother and my friends, they truly believe in me.
Is there anything about your industry that you don’t like? How about something that you really like?
I’m not in the professional industry yet, so I can’t really say yes or no. However, I can speak on the dance community in the DMV. There still is some competition that is present on the east coast, but I truly believe that we all want to get rid of the competition and work together. I think we could have a bigger impact on the dance community if we would combine our strengths and do more collaborative work.
I think we could have a bigger impact on the dance community if we would combine our strengths and do more collaborative work.
Do you see dance as a limitless art form?
Of course! The possibilities are endless. Currently, a fusion of dance forms is really on the rise. Technical dancers are learning hip-hop, and hip-hop dancers are learning technique. I think it’s wonderful to see different worlds within dance come together. With outlets such as youtube, tumblr and vimeo, it’s so easy to share with the world your current “project.” Dance has been around since the days of royalty and to see where dance has been and where it’s heading is amazing. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future of dance. If you can think it, it can be done. That’s the power of creativity.
Anything big coming up for Miss De Vera?
Teaching at Lehman College in Bronx, NY at the Each 1 Teach 1 dance workshop. Performing with Culture Shock DC in LA in October. That’s about it right now!