The story of Stacy VanBlarcom and Verve Dance Studio
“I started breaking in 2008 at a B-Girl class at Verve Dance Studio, and it was love at first 6-step. After growing up on ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern and tap, I hadn’t danced in a few years at that point, and I was kind of walking around with a hole in my chest where dance had been. So breaking took up residence right away, as did my involvement with Verve. Since then, I’ve been one of very few B-Girls in Buffalo. Today I teach at Verve, and am a member of their house crew “Differential Flava Crew” alongside some really talented and amazing people. In addition to breaking, I also practice and teach House Dancing, am learning to Pop, and play around with Locking, Whaacking, and Contemporary or all of the above, depending on the music.”
“I started breaking at a time in my life, when truthfully, I didn’t like myself very much and didn’t want to face the reasons why. But there were a few people in the dance community and otherwise in my life who helped me look at what I was doing in a different way, and look at who I wanted to become. I strive now to be the most loving person I can, because I’ve felt the difference that patience, understanding and acceptance makes. I am forever grateful for the people who helped me learn that love doesn’t always look like love, but when we can see it for what it is, it always feels like love.”
Where do you find your inspiration? What about Buffalo inspires you/your business?
“I’m inspired when I see people using their gifts to build community. When someone clearly loves what they do, and is committed to the quality of work they produce, whatever kind of work that may be – it’s a beautiful thing. I get inspired by people who are unapologetically themselves, while holding others in high regard too. I love seeing people succeed and when you can tell just by the look on someone’s face that they’re in their element. It inspires me to see people helping each other, working together, and to work with people who are excited and take action on their ideas.”
“Dance-wise, my crewmates inspire me of course, and each in different ways. I love to see female dancers who’ve reached a high skill level and aren’t slowing down for nobody or nothing. I love to see the excitement on kids’ faces while we’re performing, and the ones who come up to you afterward. Kids dancing, completely free, is the best thing ever. Obviously, great music inspires me. And sometimes, it’s really just that dance is the only way I can process what I’m feeling. It may be something painful and it may be something joyful, and that’s part of the beauty, is that dance is a language with which you can learn to say anything. Anything you need to feel or say.”
“The spirit of the Buffalo community inspires me, including but not limited to the arts community. We just have more resilience; I think if you look around, you can see that’s true. People help each other. The community organizers, the small business owners, the artists… the majority of people I know want to see each other succeed. They want positive things for the community, and work to create them.”
“I find the Buffalo community, in particular the arts community, really cares about and is focused on the youth. You have people here creating supportive environments for kids to learn, safe spaces where they can express themselves, and engage in the kind of life lessons that are only available through experience with people who care about you – about your wellbeing as an individual and as a part of the community. Along with that, to see kids shine and really enjoy expressing themselves, or to get a hug from a young person after a show or workshop, is one of the best things in the world. I was so proud of all the Verve students after their last performance, and inspired by how the crowd (people from all different walks of life, from all over Buffalo) supported each and every kid – I’m still too overwhelmed to put words to it.”
“I also think in a way, the size of the city and the arts scene inspires artists in niche styles to do better. We have a wide range of culture & arts available for our size. And that’s often because a small group of people are sharing whatever their style is and pushing the culture forward, continuing to make it available and welcoming for newcomers. I see it in Buffalo’s dance scene – there’ll be one or two people who teach a particular style. Through all these talented and dedicated dancers, you can drop in and learn Breaking, Kizomba, Tango, Hip Hop, Salsa, everything from Bellydancing to West African. It’s amazing.”
Your go-to words of encouragement.
“I’m big on words of encouragement, and that makes it hard to choose. I have a deep, deep faith in people, in the good in others – and more than anything that keeps me going. The more that faith gets tested, the stronger it gets. The older I get, the more fully I see myself and other people, as whole humans, ya know? And to me, it’s the wise decision to believe in the good, because the potential for the whole spectrum is in everyone.”
“I also have the quote ‘Success and failure are not big events’, from Darren Hardy taped to my laptop, and a shower full of AquaNotes.
What would you tell a younger version of yourself?
“Assuredly a bunch of things that version of myself would not listen to, lol, uggghhhh.”
Favorite Buffalo stuff.
“Where do I start? Obviously, Verve and Battle @ Buffalo are near and dear to my heart. A short list of some of my other favorite places:”
- Global Villages & Westside Stories on Grant St
- Coffee: Caffeology or Tipico
- In terms of nature, hiking the Niagara Gorge or sitting under a tree at Hoyt Lake.
- Yoga Parkside
- Dance Days of Buffalo was one of my favorite events of 2016.
- Buffalo Rising is one of the media outlets for which I have a lot of respect.
- Linwood & Utica has the best smile in Buffalo. Drive north on Linwood at night and you’ll see what I mean!
“It’s notable that dance is actually not my full time gig. I work in Public Relations and have been doing that going on a dozen years now. I’m drawn to PR because at its core, it’s about building relationships, and addressing problems and opportunities in a way that can make a tangible, positive impact. And because I’m a freak about details. I sit on the board of the Buffalo/Niagara Public Relations Society of America as Secretary, and chair the chapter’s e-communications committee.”
“I’ve grown to know myself pretty well, and I work on “my stuff” every day. It’s a journey that never ends…83′ til infinity (if you catch the reference, lol).”
“I moved to Buffalo in 2005 (from Rochester), and now it’s home. There’s been so much growth since then, so much to be proud of, and so much work left to do!”
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