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The Beauty of Dance With Rochelle Underdue

Rochelle Underdue is a bright and uplifting dancer based in Jacksonville, Florida. Originally from Virginia, Rochelle, a self-noted late bloomer, has established herself as a leader in Jacksonville’s dance community through various platforms and performances over the past seven years. The strength of her faith and her family has pushed her to build and give back to the community.

Finding the flow

For many naturally talented artists such as Rochelle, the beauty of their art develops instinctively. Structure is required as far as repetition when it comes to perfecting dance but relying upon a maintained schedule can often lead to stagnation. The ingenuity of creating and perfecting a choreography that keeps eyes steadfast on the performance requires an open mind to new ideas. The beauty of dance is in the movement. The body talks. The quick-twitch muscles of a dancer allows them to follow the rhythm and not stray off path. The correlation between instinctive movement and Rochelle Underdue gives her the freedom to dance in between genres. Her preference of fusion dance often includes: hip-hop, contemporary, African, house and modern among others. Using the “heart of hip-hop” as she refers to it, Rochelle incorporates the other styles to establish the atmosphere of her performances.

"I just learned all that was taught to me but what I do prefer really depends on my body. I look at dance as a tool of ministry."

obstacles

What drives a performer to keep exceeding their own expectations? A multitude of factors usually play a part in that. The “culture” gives Underdue confidence to express herself freely. Just like the auditory words from hip-hop, the dance version is most effective when it’s done authentically and one can only do so if they’re open. Being vulnerable allows Rochelle to tap into her best work. A look into Rochelle’s connection to her loved ones may also give insight into her dedication to dance. Just as her career started bringing her more opportunities and positive news, she was hit with the devastation of losing her father, her biggest supporter. The outcome to that misfortune led to an even stronger bond with her sister, Che, who is also an artist of the musical variety. Relying upon each other’s drive has pushed them to become even greater in their respective fields as they continue to inspire each other.

"A lot of time people stay on the surface level of things and I've always wanted to challenge people to go in deep because that's what was training me to be from the gut, from the root, and to help people. It's okay to cry. It's okay to feel. It’s okay to connect. It's okay to be present."

Empowering Unity

Among the ways that Rochelle uses her influence is through her platform In The Midst which serves the community with dance through productions, performances, and classes as a way to express their gift. She was also involved with The Performers Academy in Jacksonville which allowed her to teach the youth with the knowledge she gained in larger dance markets such as New York and California where she studied and performed. Recently, as part of the Juneteenth celebrations and protests in America, Rochelle also helped organize the Duval Dance Rally to gather in solidarity. Dancers from across the community came together to peacefully protest and perform as a means of unity.

“Being dancers, we wanted to not only highlight the importance of our lives mattering but we also wanted to empower unity. Let's not forget the spaces that disregard any type of differences that take place in the world but bring us to be one and one creative space.”

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THE FEED

Daryna Barykina

ROOTS Daryna Barykina is an awe-inspiring photographer that is adept in stylized conceptual vivid imagery. A native of Ukraine, she moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2011 and embarked on her

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