Photo by Joe Chitwood
Collier, at left, and Theslisma
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Peterson Theslisma leads students
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Collier discusses some of the moves
The four "Man Up Vision" dancers of Los Angeles were busy teaching kids hip hop, lyrical, contemporary and cheerleading routines Saturday at the Stage Dance Studio.The four dancers came for the weekend to host an "LA 2 NE" dance convention. During their lunch break, the Bulletin spoke with two men in the troupe about hip hop music.
We asked the dancers if their hip hop style can change the public's perception that hip hop songs contain violent, sexual images, suggestive dancing and even gang activity.
Choreographer and director Peterson Theslisma said in every style of music, some content or lyrics show lifestyles parents don't want promoted in their household. He said people must understand and separate that in any music.
“You can find bad things in all types of music whether it is rock and roll, rap or hip hop,“ Theslisma said.
“Whatever the genre, you have what I call disobedient music, and you have what I call inspirational music.” he said. “Social media, TV programs and the movies play what they think is popular, so it actually comes back to us. We have to choose what is popular. In our homes, we must choose what we listen to.”
He said they choose hip hop songs that motivate people and promote good.
When speaking of MUV, most people say “the Christian hip hop dancers are coming to town.”
The Bulletin asked how they felt about that statement.
“Yes I am a Christian," Collier said, "and yes I am a hip hop dancer and yes I use the gift that God gave me to help change the world.”
Whether Collier performs hip hop, contemporary, lyrical, folk, African or pop rock, he is "coming here to inspire people.”
Theslisma said God gives everyone a gift and how you use it is your choice.
“The gift that God gave me is the gift of dance.” he said.
Theslisma believes that whatever he puts into himself will come out in his dance.
“To me, this is my ministry,” he said. “I choose not to compromise."
He believes it his duty to make sure he isn't involved in things that would cause his audiences to make bad choices or stray away from what is right.
“You don't have to compromise in the industry," he said. "You can choose projects that are inspirational.”
Collier said most people don't realize how many Christians are in the entertainment industry, playing secular music.
“The thing about it is being able to be a light in a dark place," he said. "I give glory to God no matter where I go, whether it is doing secular work or whether it is doing Christian work."
Collier said he was his own person and is comfortable in every situation.
When asked how hip hop from a Christian standpoint can help kids in today’s world, Theslisma said that they are here because they could relate to kids, because not so long ago they were kids themselves.
He said their desire is to be an example for his students.
“Kids today want to see action," he said. "They look to see if you are actually living what you are saying you believe.”
Ways of reaching kids are always changing. Collier believes that, because of technology, kids no longer spend as much time on the street but are on the net -- on computers and social media to get information about life. He said most kids take the wrong path because they are getting the wrong inspirations by what they listen to and watch, and it is up to adults to help them get good information.
“We have to come to them to bring good culture.” he said.
He realizes that some kids can't afford to go o LA so they come out and present good culture to students.
"We want to teach them to be the best they can be, so we pour into them all we can.“ he said.
He believes when his crew shares the experiences they have gone through it will help kids see that there are better things to choose than what they sometimes hear.
“We understand what they go through with peer pressure. We came along at the right time with the technology today.” he said.
He believes they can communicate with the kids and offer them the tools needed to succeed in life.
They believe that dance is the perfect outlet to reach kids. They tell the students that they are beautiful, amazing and don't have to compromise. They teach students to trust in themselves and ignore what others might say about them.
“We believe in letting God use us as a vessel to help kids.” Theslisma said.
Collier agreed. He said as they get to know students, students begin to trust them and are confident in seeking advice, sharing problems and getting answers without being judged.
“My job and purpose of being here is to inspire these kids to follow their dreams and to never give up and work hard for whatever it is they want to do.”
Both agreed that it was not their job to judge kids.
"Saying no or saying what they do is wrong, automatically brings defiance," Theslisma said. "It is better to show them what they can accomplish by making the right choices."
All four of the dancers are enjoying the time they are spending in North Platte and hope that people will gain a better appreciation of their style of dance.