Improve your dance with advice from hip-hop duo Stalamuerte and Diablo
© Mathias Lopez/Red Bull Content Pool
Two of the most unique figures in the world of dance break down 10 key points that aspiring dancers need to focus on in order to hone their craft.
In the space of five years, Swiss hip-hop dancer Stalamuerte and multi-talented Frenchman Diablo have stomped their way to the top of the scene with incalculable force. Their razor-sharp footwork, next level agility, multi-style flex and creativity has seen them lock down championship titles, as well as tear apart notorious duo Les Twins in 2019's pulse-racing quarter-final at Juste Debout. More than that, it's also seen the duo clock up fans, fame and respect as two of the most in-demand and unique hip-hop dancers in the game.
We met the two between tour stops and the studio to break down 10 key points dancers need to unlock their own signature flow and get their perspective on how to hone your craft to take it to another level.
1. Take something from every genre of dance
Diablo: When I try to learn more about dance, I don't think about style or genre. Instead, I take information from every kind of dance and select the bits I want to use for myself. The goal should be to create your own style from various genres.
Stalamuerte: I started with breaking, then next up it was smurfing. After that, I did a bit of Krump and then hip-hop freestyle about 11 years ago. Many people have asked if I have a contemporary background and said things like, "damn, you have grace when you dance." I've never studied that, so for me it's funny to hear. I'm inspired by moves; I ignore the genre. When I see something I like, I just work it in.
2. Find your character
Stalamuerte: There's one thing a dancer has to do in order to become better and that's create for themselves. If you want to be someone on this scene, you have to be different from everybody else. Expressing your character and personality is the most important aspect. You need to know every part of your body, as well as what you have in your mind, and then put all that into your dance. I know myself, I know who's inside me and I put every piece of that into my dance. That's how my style became so original.
3. Never compromise your style
Diablo: Be yourself, even though that can often be harder than being someone else. You're the first you on Earth and, because of that, you are your own best source of inspiration.
4. Forget what others think
Stalamuerte: My first big challenge was that I cared too much about what other people thought about my dancing. I didn't get over that until I went to Paris. No one in the city paid attention to what other dancers thought about them – they were all strong, they were all good and because of that, I didn't have time to doubt myself. If I wasn't sure of myself in a battle, I'd be done. So, after this, I was good. I trusted in my vision and I didn't care what people thought about my dance.
Diablo: To create my own style was difficult, but you can't care about what anyone thinks, you have to do what you like. In a battle, even from the very first one, I was too focused on my rounds not being poor and working on things to get scared of what other people were thinking.
5. If you find fame, ignore the hype
Stalamuerte: Stay the same guy as you were before. Don't forget where you started, where you came from and who you were at the beginning. If you find fame as a dancer, you have to stay grounded in your head and with your ego. Stay true to what you want, what you like and stay determined. Don't give worry about what other people think, just be yourself. You have to know that the fame stuff isn't interchangeable with your personality.
Diablo: If you ask me when I became famous as a dancer, or if I thought I would have a career as a dancer, it just never entered my head. Dance isn't a sport, or about being good, because whether or not people think your dancing is 'good' is just an opinion. Being successful, good or famous as a dancer isn't down to technique and skill, it's about knowing and loving yourself, and putting that into it, because dance isn't going to lie.
6. Use dance as therapy
Stalamuerte: Dance is my only way of expression. When I dance, it's the only time I can let my feelings out. It's my therapy. All of my emotions, I put in my dance. Even when it comes to practice, I go with this feeling.
Everything you experience can inspire you and influence your style
7. Quality over quantity
Stalamuerte: A lot of dancers think they have to practice all day, every single day. But I think the best thing to do is to focus on quality, not quantity. When you go to practice, you have to practice the skills you need to improve and the things that aren't easy for you to do. You have to work on everything you don't have, not get stronger at the things your body already knows.
Practice isn't only about dance, it's also about what you see each day and how you live your life. Everything you experience can inspire and influence your style. So, focus on different ways of dance, find a different groove and experiment.
8. Push through hard times by elevating your creativity and strength
Stalamuerte: I think in times like 2020, it should be easier to be creative, especially during lockdowns, as it's a chance to focus on ourselves and elevate our creativity. You have all the time to practice, try some styles, moves, or stuff you haven't tried before. Watch some movies you haven't seen, listen to an album, different music that you haven't checked out. Work on sports, build your muscles and improve your strength. You have the time, so use it.
Watch Follow Me, an earlier video production with Diablo and Stalamuerte, in the player below:
Follow Me x Diablo
9. Improve your stamina
Stalamuerte: In some battles, you have to do 15 or 20 rounds and if you don't have the stamina you'll really suffer. The first time this happened to me was at the Fusion Festival in 2017. We did 20 rounds and I thought it was crazy. Every round you have to show something different, another side of your dance. So, after that battle, I pushed more in my workouts and improved my stamina, so I could do that each time. I think running is a good thing for dancers, not every day, but two or three times a week is perfect.
10. Always think beyond your dance
Diablo: Stalamuerte and I are trying to develop a brand right now. Also, my friends make drill, afro-beats, hip-hop and they sing, so at the moment, we're going to the studio with them. I'll get them to make me two or three songs for new videos and projects. I'm trying to do fashion line now as well, but again with a team of professionals. If you give me the material and say, "Diablo, make a t-shirt," I can't. I can tell you how to design it and make it look dope, though.
It's better to work among other creatives and collectives who are great at what they do. Build, evolve and create. This is what I'm doing at the moment and all of that is leading to Stalamuerte and myself working on our first show and artistic concept. For us, this will be the first time we can tell our story for real. No one is asking us to show anything, or telling us what we should do. We can do what we want and we're going to say something.
Stalamuerte: When I stop dancing, like when I'm gone and I'm not here in this world, I would like to leave a legacy. I'd like to leave a mark with my dance and my vision, so one of the next steps to do that will be the creation of a show from Diablo and myself. Stay tuned.