(Part 1) Center Stage: A Memoir of a Hip Hop Guru

Andres “Librado” Rodoni, a hip hop dance instructor for All That Dance Company, has managed to impress the dancing communities in both Dallas, Texas and Eugene, Oregon as an inspiration to young dance enthusiasts.

By Katie McKinley

It’s Wednesday March 9th at 6:32 p.m. The hip-hop class is two minutes late. At the first sight of their dance instructor, the group of 11-14 year-old girls jump out of their seats to race up to the second floor studio begging him to not waste any more time. Bruno Mars’ Grenade begins to quietly play from a cellphone placed in the corner of the room as the girls resolutely practice the complex choreography. The 24-year-old instructor cuts the music. “If you’re isolating each movement it’s going to feel a little overwhelming. Don’t think of it in your head as individual words just visualize the movements.”

The hip-hop instructor, Andres “Librado” Rodoni, recognizes that not every student he works with is immediately going to pick up the routine so he personalizes his classes towards finding each student’s inner rhythm. Rodoni’s teaching approach is casual and communicative, guiding the girls through each move while collaborating as a unit over ways to improve the quality of dance. He relates to his students and gives them a sense of equality, encouraging them to freely express themselves in any way desired as long as they maintain respect for one another.

The small dance studio located on 1st and Adams Street, appeals to the Whiteaker residents as a place to express oneself through the dance art form. The dance company offers a variety of classes ranging from hip hop to musical theater and is accepting of nearly all ages. Inside is a maze of studios placed throughout the building connecting to the Upstart Crow Studio, which provides acting classes and produces children Broadway musicals that many of the All That students participate in.

The company provides the students with trained instructors who are passionate about dance and sharing their love for the arts with the younger generation. Rodoni has been a hip-hop instructor at All That since April 2010 and is now the head of the hip-hop program. In addition to putting together an adult hip hop class to give those interested a chance to have a unique outlet for expression, he instructs the company’s all boys hip hop crew High Voltage and takes pride in the crew’s accomplishments. “They have such great chemistry and it’s nice to be part of a bond that strong.”

Dance always had a significant role in his life and he can’t seem to remember a time when he wasn’t dancing. Growing up in Texas with his mother, a professional Latin dancer, and his cousin Beto “Mooncricket” Lopez, a hip-hop historian, he was introduced to the power of dance at an early age, fostering an appreciation for all forms of dance. In his tweens and teens, he and his friends would “street” dance as a pastime, up until he became a professionally trained dancer.

When a group of his girl friends needed more boys for a swing class, 12-year-old Rodoni agreed to help the girls out and began learning technical dance styles. While hanging around the dance studio, he found himself always wanting to watch the hip-hop classes. The instructors were eventually able to convince him to enroll in the studio’s hip-hop classes. Determined to stay loyal to his street style of dance among the choreographed routines performed in a class, he embarked on his journey to becoming a hip hop role model to dozens of young students.

Rodoni quickly developed into a talented dancer and by the time he was 17 years old, he made his way through the Texas dance scene, joining the crew F-troop, taking on the role as Director of Hip Hop at Studio 7 West, and heading off the choreography in the musical “For the Love” at Unique Productions. Seven years later, he set off to relocate to Eugene, Oregon to be closer to his father and newly born son, and says he was prepared and confident to put his experience to use.

Settling into Eugene has been both a transforming and awakening experience for the young entrepreneur. On top of entering into the new stressful life of parenthood, he was faced with a career decision choosing between continuing to work in construction or as a dance instructor at All That. Teaching classes was always a side job for him, but he came to realize he wants to spend his life genuinely enjoying his job and sharing his enthusiasm for dance expression.

It’s 7:30 p.m. now and Rodoni ends the girls’ hip-hop class despite the fact that they want to learn the next moves in the routine. He laughs as he tells them to keep practicing on their own and he’ll see them in a few days.

While walking out of the studio smiling, he says he can always count on the dance studio to make him happy after a long day, and that is what he wants his students to feel too.

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