The Red Bull Dance Your Style National Finals brought out some of the best talent across the nation, including Memphis native Spider Alexander. After winning the qualifier in New Orleans back in August, Spider made his way to Las Vegas to compete against 15 of his peers. But for Alexander, even when a competition comes with high stakes, dancing is really all about having a good time and inspiring others.
Global Grind sat down with Spider before the competition–which our friends over at BOSSIP recapped in full–to hear his strategy for competing, how he got involved in the dance world, and what motivates him to keep going.
Spider’s history with dance is extensive, which makes sense, because jookin–a street dance that originated in Memphis–is so ingrained in the culture where he’s from. Beyond that, though, his family history is impressive. He speaks highly of the inspiration that comes from his mother, who was a majorette in her high school, and his grandmother, who was a dancer on Soul Train in the 1970’s.
Alexander’s dance expertise is a mix of family inspiration, traditional training, and a whole lot of self-discipline. “I just always believed and watched my mom—and the very first dance style that I actually learned was break dancing,” he explains. “The only traditional dance classes that I took was ballet and flamenco for about a year and a half. Everything else was self-taught.”
And even though they might seem extremely different, Spider’s experience with more classical styles really helped with his break dancing. “The posture, technique, form, different rhythms, different variations. I’m very honored to even be apart and to learn ballet and flamenco.”
As for the role of social media with dance today, Spider accredits Instagram and the internet with helping a lot of talented people–not just dancers–get discovered.
When asked if the huge talent pool across IG makes getting discovered simpler or more difficult, he responded: “I’d say easier, because you have plenty of opportunities to showcase what you love to do. Not even just with dance, it could be basketball, football, track, rapping, singing—any art that God has given you. So, being in the virtual reality world, it changes a lot.”
When it comes to his future goals, Spider never mentions anything about money or fame, but simply helping the world around him become a better place. “My dream is to be one of the best inspirational dancers in the world. To travel and to teach choreography or freestyle, or even just giving advice to people about pursuing your talent or dream or goal,” he explains. “It’s just all about the youth and pushing for the future.”
Spider has gotten some pretty big looks on social media, like follows from Chris Brown and Ayo & Teo–but he doesn’t just get inspired by the big names who recognize him. “I would say pretty much EVERYBODY is my inspiration. I just try to get inspired by who I see and what I like. It’s inspiration all around.” He says that before pointing to different people in the room, explaining how his inspiration would be as simple as the color of someone’s shirt or the chain a friend has on.
In preparation for competing, all Alexander does is “just thank God.” He makes it pretty clear that winning isn’t his first priority, because no matter the outcome, the opportunity was still a victory in itself. “When I go into competition, it’s just all about having fun for me and giving the person the energy that I’m about to feed to them. Whether I win or lose, it’s still like a win for me, and that’s the only thing that keeps me motivated.”
As for his life and career post-competition, Spider is excited to go back to Tennessee and get back to helping the world around him. “I’m getting ready for a krump dance event in Texas. Other than that, just going back home and teaching at the dance studio that i’m working with, which is LYE Academy.” There he teaches hip-hop and tumbling classes to everyone from 3-year-olds all the way to 19-year-olds.
Spider’s parting words echo the message he tries to push every single day: “Always believe in yourself. Without belief it’s nothing.”