After Hours | Jolene Torres
This week, Str8jacket will represent in both Northern and Southern California. We will be performing at Gameboi SF at the Rickshaw Stop and BET Experience at LA Live. As we have been hard at work preparing for these (and many other) performances, I’ve had some time to ponder the importance of inclusion, inside and outside of the dance world.
Before Str8jacket, I had imagined the entertainment business as a very cut-throat and cookie-cutter place. Sure, you may have the dreams and the drive to succeed; you can stay up late at night to perfect your over split, wake up early in the morning to do 100 crunches and lunges before a big audition. But there is only so much you can do to be recognized for your efforts. The same ten people you run into at all of the workshops are placed in the YouTube videos. Those who have that “je ne sais quoi” are the ones who are put in every performance. And those that don’t kick their leg high enough, place their hands a certain way…. those who just don’t look “right” for the part? They are cut right then and there. You’re left wondering after all of that hard work, what what did I do wrong? That image in my head deterred me from wanting to pursue dance any further than dance classes offered in high school and college. The Hollywood version of the dance world just became a pipe dream that I didn’t have the courage to pursue.
Then, I found Str8jacket. And that harsh image of the entertainment world has softened into a welcoming space for you to express yourself. I was wrong to think that the ENTIRE dance world was so unkind. This community is nothing but loving and caring. We’re not here to put you down or make you feel small because you can’t groove correctly. We dedicate our time to entertain the audience. If you’re willing to work hard to be a part of that, we welcome you with open arms! At our most recent practices, our director JC stressed the importance of including everyone who wants to perform in a set. He sees that you are committed to improving your dancing skills. The choreographers will recognize that and fit you in! Just having that dedication and drive goes a long ways with Str8jacket. And the best part is that we’re a family. All of our team members are ready to support you when you are struggling with the choreo, and we’re there to praise you when you kill it!
So how does this fit outside of the dancing world? The way I see it, it personally gives me a reason to be nicer to myself. Outside of the dance studio, I get frustrated thinking about the things that I’ve failed to accomplish and isolate myself. It’s easy to forget that everyone else is going through something similar to you, and they’re probably feeling the same way. But when we walk in the studio, everyone is determined to succeed as a team. It motivates me to want to succeed for myself. Being included in this team is enough for me to keep working hard to entertain all of you. It’s important to also remember to be kinder to those around you, and support others when they need it (which, by the way, is all of the time).
It’s important to give yourself some slack, because we see you working hard at something you love to do. We want you to join us as we create and entertain, because we want to make sure everyone else sees you, too.
Jolene Torres officially joined Str8jacket in January 2018. She loves and appreciates many different styles, including: hula, tap, contemporary, and hip hop. This is the first competition hip hop team she has joined.
Outside of the studio, Jolene likes to be behind the camera, sing in the car, and play the ukulele. She considers herself to be a very supportive friend.
** Str8jacket is currently hosting a variety of Summer Fundraisers so that they can perform and compete at BET Experience 2018, World of Dance Championships 2018, and World of Dance Bay Area, 2018. Visit the links below to help donate**