From BnEMediA: I met Rich a few years ago when I first started hitting the “dance spots” in Saint Louis. Easily one of the most clean dancers I’ve met. Check out a few of his videos on our YouTube channel

Rich: I remember watching Michael Jackson music videos on TV while living with my dad, a single father, in East Saint Louis. One year for my birthday, he gave me a stereo and I set it up in our dining room. It was easy to roll, spin, jump around and do whatever since we didn’t have any furniture. Looking back on it, as uncoordinated as I was, I wouldn’t call what I was doing dancing yet but I knew it felt good and was fun. I’ve always had this urge to just move…in grocery stores or out in public…I would be dancing. I could never be still.

As I became older, my love for dance became more personal. I was in after-school programs and started taking formal dance classes like jazz and ballet. Mainly to be around the girls and as a teenager, I was starting to get into trouble because of them. I grew a lot during this period. I wanted to break, pop and do choreography. I wanted to learn it all. Through all of the injuries I encountered, I could’t stop dancing. For the first time, I felt that I had a sense of purpose.

Fun…girls…to be the best. I had many reasons to dance throughout life. And now, it’s an escape. An outlet. The everyday strife that comes with a 9-to-5, being in a relationship, and the pressures of being an adult disappear when I dance. At times, life in general can be almost unbearable but not when I dance. I feel free. Dance has a direct effect on my mental health. When I’m not dancing…no purpose…no growth…no fulfillment. Empty. I feel overran with the pressure of life. But to learn a new move…to receive that fulfillment…I break my typically shy and under-spoken mold. I feel confident. I release my aggression or express my anger, joy, or even my serenity…all without words. In that period of dancing, I’m lost…and found. No worry. No stress. Just dance.

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