On Sunday, May 22 the premier global street dance competition, #RedBullDanceYourStyle, completed its U.S. run, and royalty reigned supreme with the crowning of the U.S. champion.
David “The Crown” Stalter stunned an audience Sunday when he took home the top spot by showcasing his expertise and unstoppable energy during his improvisational, 1:1 battles.
Now with this win under his belt, The Crown will go on to represent the USA at the Red Bull Dance Your Style World Finals.
During Sunday’s competition, the Liberian-Korean dancer caught the crowd’s attention with his ability to seamlessly go from locking to breaking and animation.
Before his big win, he faced off with SonLam who went out swinging and hypnotized the crowd with round after round of his effortless popping and his isolations.
Ultimately, however, the final round of the competition would go to the self-taught artist who dominated a freestyle performance to Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.”
Garnering the attention and energy of fellow competitors who backed him up, The Crown stirred the crowd into a frenzy. Wrist bands used to vote for the winner of each round immediately lit up red and several were tossed onto the dance floor as an exclamation mark to confirm The Crown’s landslide win.
After his win, The Crown dished to BOSSIP about how he got his trademark name.
The Crown Reveals The Meaning Behind His Name
According to the winning creative, years ago he was riddled with anxiety before performing a personal piece dedicated to his father—but an emcee backstage gave him some life-altering words of wisdom.
“‘Yo, you need to own your royalty. Own your heritage. You are who you are. You already got it. Just go out there and be you,'” the emcee told the dancer. “And then he went out there and was like, ‘Alright, y’all! Give it up for The Crown.’”
With that, the name stuck and took on a deeper meaning.
“And ever since then, everybody’s been calling me that. And that’s when I got the tattoo, because I was like, ‘If that’s what everyone’s calling me then I’ll take it,'” said The Crown. “That name means self-love. It just means own your heritage, own your royalty.”
#RedBullDanceYourStyle Competitors Dish On Expressing #BlackBoyJoy Through Dance
In watching this year’s competition, it was clear that for numerous dancers, this was not only about taking the top spot but also about the unmitigated gaiety that dancing brings them. In particular, the weekend’s competition was bursting with #BlackBoyJoy.
Coined by New York Times bestselling author Kwame Mbalia, the term “black boy joy” was created to not only show positive images of happy Black boys—but to reaffirm the existence of and the right for them to be unapologetically happy just as they are. For the #DanceYourStyle dancers, that happiness translated to waacking, jookin’, footwork, and various other types of creative expression.
Prince Wayne who won #RedBullDanceYourStyle Atlanta in October told BOSSIP about the #BlackBoyJoy he gets from allowing his body to express his words and considers it therapeutic.
“I started from a place of depression so it helped me to grow out of that,” explained the dancer. “It was the only way I could express it without talking. I feel so happy when I dance, eventually, the happiness started spreading to all the other areas of my life.”
“It’s such a beautiful thing because you don’t need words to do it, people can feel it,” he added. “They can feel everything, feeling [the energy] is such a thing that I think is slept on a lot of the times, so that’s why I feel like dancing is an expression of joy for me. I can move my body and enjoy myself and in my mind, if I have no limits, no rules to what my movement can be.
“I can do whatever I want and that brings me joy.”
Prince Wayne’s statement also rings true to The Crown who told BOSSIP that he went from participating in a church dance troupe to practicing moves at home as a form of escapism. Dance is what he credits with rescuing him.
“I started taking it seriously in high school, cause middle school was a really hard time for me,” shared the winning dancer. “But I feel like in that moment I needed something to like just express. Cause I didn’t have too many friends, I didn’t have the best time at home with my mom and my dad—so I needed something or else or I would’ve ended up in the streets.
“I think it was junior year is when I started to realize like, yo, ‘when I don’t dance, I feel sick,'” he added. “And it was because I’d been suppressing those emotions. Dance really saved my life, and that was when I realized that this isn’t a hobby anymore. I’m very passionate about this, it makes me feel everything.”
Dancer Toyin Talks #BlackGirlMagic
Not to be outdone by the fellas, dancer Toyin also weighed in with BOSSIP on expressing joy through dance and offered a #BlackGirlMagic perspective.
One of the fiercest women in the competition who nearly made it to the end, Toyin was a bright beacon of joy as she whipped her knee-length box braids to the beat and showed off her house dance expertise during the #RedBullDanceYourStyle national finals.
According to the dancer who hails from Washington D.C., the art of dance allows Black women to be their authentic selves instead of having to shrink to fit societal norms.
“Really it’s just being authentic in who we are and not having to hold back,” said the #BlackGirlMagic maker whose traveled worldwide teaching dance. “I’ve seen that a lot lately where we feel like we have to speak a different way and move in a way where we don’t intimidate anyone and [we’re] feeling like we have to support other people instead of being able to take the lead.”
“I think the way that I have tried to push that is really being authentic in who I am,” she continued. “[Just] standing strong in my truth.”
The truth of the matter is that joy can’t be bottled, but it can be expressed.
We can all witness even more expressions when The Crown competes in the Red Bull Dance Your Style Word Finals on December 10 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
We’ll be watching. Will you?