Rylee is a force to be reckoned with in the Vogue community. She is the mother of the Philadelphia chapter of the iconic House of Prodigy. Rylee makes sure her students know the history, importance and culture of Vogue in her classes at UMA. Don't miss out on classes with Rylee y'all! Learn more from Rylee below!
Hear from Rylee about Vogue!
-Tell us about the history of Vogue
Voguing started in the late 60s/Early 70s in the Underground Ball scene of Harlem, NY coming from the Black and Brown LGBTQ+ communities. Inspired by models off of Vogue magazine, people started emulating the poses to music. We know that as Pop, Dip, and Spin or Old Way now. At UMA, we mainly learn and practice Vogue Femme. Vogue Femme came up in the 90s. While Vogue Femme still incorporates the posing, we see a lot more fluidity and femininity incorporated into the movement. Vogue is a form of protest and it is important to acknowledge the responsibility it takes to enter the Ball scene. By responsibility I mean in terms of being aware of Patriarchy, White Supremacy, and Homo/Transphobia.
-When did you start dancing Vogue? What made you interested?
I first started Voguing in 2016, but did not really take it seriously until 2017 and I walked my first Mainstream ball in 2018. I was very intimidated by it at first because of hyper-feminine the style is, but once I got into it, it totally transformed how I connected to my body and femininity.
-Who are some of your idols in Vogue - past or present?
Some of my Vogue idols include Tati Miyake Mulger, Meeka Alpha Omega, Inxi Prodigy, and Kassandra Ebony
-What is your favorite part about teaching Vogue @ UMA?
My favorite part about teaching Vogue at UMA is seeing people tap into different parts of themselves that they didn't think they can access. I love seeing people grow into their confidence and witnessing light bulb moments when movement/concepts start to set in and click.
-What do you hope people get out of your Vogue classes?
I hope people can receive empowerment from my class. Whether they feel empowered by becoming physically stronger, empowered by expressing themselves, or empowered through knowledge by gaining a clear perspective of the society we live in relationship to Ball culture.
You can get into Vogue classes at both UMA locations.
Mondays @ 812 Chestnut:
6:00pm Beginner Vogue
8:00pm Intermediate/ Advanced Vogue
Wednesdays @ 812 Chestnut:
6:00pm Beginner Vogue
Veronica teaches Solo Salsa on 2 at UMA's 812 Chestnut location. She also teaches violin for our affiliated music program- Philly Music Factory, and DJs at local Latin Socials in Philly! Learn more about Veronica and her class at 812 Chestnut below!
Hear from Veronica about Solo Salsa on2!
Salsa on2, or "mambo", or also called NY-style on2, is a dance that evolved a few decades ago in direct response to the live music scene in New York City called the "Palladium era". It's a style that was almost single-handedly developed by Eddie Torres, but is still very much alive and evolving and progressing today with so many incredible dancers and instructors taking the style and developing it even more, which is what Eddie Torres did. He took influences from all around him - jazz, hustle, swing, Afro-Cuban, Alvin Ailey, ballet, tap - and formalized it into a teachable Latin dance technique.
Technically speaking, "on2" refers to the beat of the music which the dancer breaks forward on (with the left foot), as opposed to "on1" where you step forward with the left foot on beat 1 of the eight count. It allows you to feel the music in a completely different way, because you are emphasizing the "off beats" (2 and 6) as opposed to the core beats (1 and 5) of the Salsa rhythmic patterns, and also allows you to connect more to the different percussion patterns. Even just a basic salsa rhythmic pattern, when all the instruments are playing together, is such a deep, complex, powerful force.
There are so many ways to express the music through the language of salsa, it never ceases to amaze me. I think that's what initially got me into dancing on2, because my goal was to be able to dance with anyone when I went out dancing - any style, any level - and to be able to really dance in the style of the music. Knowing how to dance on1 and on2 just allows you to feel the music even more, have a broader palette to express yourself, and even more to a partner, which is what makes the magic happen on the dance floor.
I think that being a professional musician and then becoming involved with the dance scene has really just strengthened my love for salsa and other types of Latin musical traditions - son, rumba, cha-cha - and brought me closer to my mission of being able to bring together the live Latin music scene and the Latin dance scene in Philly in as many ways as possible. There are so many incredible, legendary Latin musicians right here in Philly, and to me as a dancer there's nothing better than dancing to a live salsa band. It's epic.
Coming from me as a DJ though, it's kind of ironic :). Anyone who has heard me DJ knows that I am obsessed with salsa cubana, or different types of cuban salsa. There is a genre called "timba", which is a modern type of salsa that evolved more recently in Cuba, but I'm super into playing all different types of Cuban artists when I spin, not just timba.
In general I am very passionate about this music and this art form, and I just hope that this passion comes through in my teaching. I really hope that I create a welcoming space for people to feel more connected to the music when they dance, to feel free to use their bodies as their instruments, and to gain some knowledge of this incredible tradition, whether they are just being introduced to it or have a lot of dance experience. My heart is full when I see joy in everyone's faces and feel people dancing from their hearts, it's a really beautiful thing, and something that I have experienced in every single one of Laurel's classes at UMA, that's for sure!
Veronica's classes are part of our Latin Program, which is separate from our regular weekly class program. You can drop into Salsa on2 classes at 812 Chestnut for $15! They go down weekly, Tuesdays at 6pm