Preparing for the SF International Hip Hop DanceFest
It’s 10 p.m. on a Monday night and I am at a dance studio in San Francisco's Mission District. About 25 members of the dance company Mind Over Matter, mostly women, are finishing their warm up. Dressed in comfy street clothes, they stretch while they chat. They are rehearsing for the San Francisco International Hip Hop DanceFest, which kicks off this weekend.
“We should run it from the top first,” says their choreographer, Allan Frias.
“With heels?” one of the dancers replies.
“Yeah, run it from the top with your heels. You don’t have any heels? Do you all have practice heels,” Frias calls out, a little distraught.
Frias runs Mind Over Matter. From the tone of his voice, I can tell things are a little hectic. He is making some last-minute changes to a routine.
Frias has a big smile that takes up his whole face, and when I meet him, my first reaction is to give him a hug. He looks like a big teddy bear, but as a choreographer, he is strict. If he does not like what he sees, he lets his dancers know.
“When you do the kicks, aren’t you supposed to be looking over your ass? I’m not getting enough of that peek when you're doing the scissor kicks. I’m not getting enough of that peek”, he tells them.
Then he breaks down the routine step by step to make sure they get it right.
“Five, six, seven, eight," Frias calls out.
The dancers get into their positions. The music starts, fading into song after song as the routine goes on. As the dancers pop, kick, glide, and jump in unison, Frias watches their every move, making sure they look flawless. He calls them out even if they miss one beat.
“Clara, Honey. You've got to do those accents. Don’t forget those accents,” he tells one of his dancers.
Frias is a master, and he demands no less than perfection from all his dancers, hoping that’s what he’ll get on the festival stage this weekend.
The SF International Hip Hop DanceFest takes place November 14 -16. You can find out more information about the show and how to purchase tickets at http://www.sfhiphopdancefest.com.