Thursday, January 10, 2008

Former Nuggets, Crush Dancers Open New Hip-hop Studio in Boulder 

Posted by James at 1:10 PM ET

by Aimee Hecke
Boulder Daily Camera
The building used to look like a run-down airplane hangar. One large, cold, cement room. Cracked floors. Sagging ceilings. It was a refrigerator storage unit.

But starting Saturday, a group of local dancers will warm up the building. They will crack open the garage doors overlooking the Valmont Reservoir, crank up music and bring some energy into the once lifeless facility.

They've renamed the building Streetside Studios. The former Denver Nuggets and Colorado Crush dancers who are running the studio say it will teach a variety of dance forms, from ballet to salsa, but with an emphasis on hip-hop.

And even though it's revamped -- with multiple studios, bamboo floors and a study room -- the building's history adds to the atmosphere, according to Brian Eustace, of Boulder.

Eustace was among the group of about six workers who did the "grunt labor" to design the studio.

"It has the industrial feel where it's located," he says. "It has two big bay doors, loading doors. We'll crack those in the summer, and it'll be nice and airy. It gives it a little edge."

The grand opening on Saturday (the studio had a soft opening in December) comes shortly after Boulder's other prominent hip-hop studio, Motion Underground, announced it would be moving to Denver because its lease expired. The new center's decision to open had nothing to do with Motion Underground moving, however, according to Niara Lucas Eustace, one of Streetside's founders. Niara Lucas Eustace is married to Brian Eustace.

Niara Lucas Eustace, along with the other founders, taught at Motion Underground, in addition to touring professionally around the state and performing in the Denver Nuggets Mob Squad, a dance troupe known for its breakdancing and popping and locking routines during half-time.

Steetside Studios
Niara Eustace teaches a dance class at Streetside Studios in Boulder. Her daughter Dominique, 16 months, is peeking over her during the class.

Streetside's other founders are Troy Burrell, of Aurora, and Ricardo Changeux, of Boulder, who was originally born in Haiti.

Changeux and Niara Lucas Eustace also danced for the Colorado Crush's City Dancers, who have won several national dance competitions, appeared in MTV music videos and on Fox's "Thirty Seconds of Fame" show, and performed with musicians including Dru Hill, Monica and Digital Underground.

Changeux's resume includes performing with Pras from the Fugees.

In addition to touring around with the sports team dance squads, Niara Lucas Eustace also appeared in an MC Hammer and Young MC half-time show. She grew up in Belgium and was trained in classical ballet for 12 years. She decided to get back into dancing at age 25, and she found herself drawn to hip-hop.

When she was not dancing, she says, she remembers running into people who were dancers and feeling like she was missing something.

"You don't have to give that up. You can jump in at any age or level," Eustace says. "You can take classes to really challenge yourself, or just learn a few moves."

Hip-hop is the common denominator for the three founders, each with a different specialty. Changeux will focus on salsa and capoeira conditioning, because of his martial arts background. Burrell will lead the youth classes and stepping.

Although there will be a youth dance troupe, one goal for Streetside Studios is to cater to people of all ages and abilities. Weekends will be almost entirely for adults.

Streetside also will offer classes in jazz, African, breaking, tap and modern fusion. Friday nights will feature open freestyle, where people can get together and dance without a class atmosphere.

"It's part of how the hip-hop culture started itself," Burrell says. "Hip-hop was not learned in the studio. It was learned on the street, and the only way to learn new movements was to get together with other people and teach each other. We want to keep that hip-hop culture going."

He says the classes give dancers the vocabulary, technique and foundation of movement -- as well as the understanding of the history of that movement -- to help them strengthen their freestyle.

During the day, the center hopes to offer Pilates, yoga and fitness dance classes.

Streetside also plans to have workshops with other trainers. The first one, featuring Sara VonGillern, of Fort Collins, who performed on the Fox TV show So You Think You Can Dance, is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Monday.

In addition to dance classes, the founders say they want the studio to become a hangout.

"I don't want parents to feel like they have to drop their kids off and leave," Changeux said in a written statement. He was on vacation in Thailand.

He says he wants parents to stay and watch, and even try a class themselves.

Saturday's event will include a DJ, performances and a silent auction to raise money for a scholarship program. The studio hopes to sponsor 10 students to learn to dance and join the performance teams.

On the web at StreetSideDance.com

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