'Hip-hop brought the best out of me': Award-winning choreographer Violeta Galagarza on the impact of hip-hop
It was a celebratory summer for hip-hop as the culture marked 50 years since it first emerged on the streets of the Bronx. WNYC and Gothamist are keeping the party going as we highlight the voices of women from our area who've made their own distinct mark on the genre. Violeta Galagarza is the executive artistic director of KR3TS dance company, and the founder of the nonprofit organization, Keep Rising to the Top. She hails from Spanish Harlem.
The transcript of Violeta Galagarza's story has been lightly edited for clarity
The first time I was influenced with hip-hop was on our block, when they used to DJ and plug the equipment on the lampposts. I'm based in Spanish Harlem. I'm the executive artistic director of KR3T's dance company. And I have a nonprofit organization called Keep Rising to the Top. Our mission is to train amateurs to become professionals. A lot of dancers that we deal with come from low-income families or are struggling in other ways. We develop and prepare them for the industry.
I was a professional dancer at a young age at Alvin Ailey. I got a scholarship for four years, then I got another scholarship. But at a young age, I became a mom, and I had responsibilities, but at least I still had access to a place for rehearsal. And I felt that I can maybe show others my talent -- pass the torch. So, I saw that I had another style of something that I can pursue and stay in the culture, and I can present and help others.
Hip-hop brought the best out of me, with attitude and character. When you heard the music, there was a vibe, that everybody would follow -- whenever we went to battles in the park, in clubs, like it was everywhere. I'm from the rawness of when hip-hop began at that time, so I trained very well and you can see by the many I trained that are now with Beyoncé, Chris Brown. J. Lo, Lady Gaga, Doug E. Fresh, all the old school and the new school dancers who now know the old hip-hop and the new hip-hop, how to express it, and they're hungrier about the past.