With lively, rhythmic hip-hop music booming in the background, students attempted to synchronize with the eclectic, skilled movements of Jose Ramos, also known as Mr. Hollywood, a renowned dancer and choreographer in the Hollywood hip-hop industry. His workshop, open to both beginners and advanced dancers, was held in the Modern Dance Studio Wednesday evening.
Annie McGovern ’18, who attended the class, said, “It was just really nice to have some positive energy while we were dancing because it made [the class] exciting and it made it fun. I was eager to learn because we have a lot of student-based groups, so it’s hard to keep the energy up when we’re tired. So, just bringing in a fresh face with such a passion for dance made me so happy this week and so excited for today. It’s already living up to my expectations.”
Ramos has collaborated with artists including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez, and is currently branching out to work with entertainment companies in the Korean pop industry. He says he discovered his passion for hip-hop in high school when he first watched Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
“I was very intrigued by the movements [of ‘Thriller’], and so I would see Michael and MC Hammer, and all these people, and when I realized that dance made me feel free is when I subjected to it and dedicated myself. I think that it just inspired me to move, and I’ve never seen anything like it obviously in my life, and just the costuming and the choreography,” said Ramos.
During the class, Ramos led students through choreography to the song “Party” by Chris Brown, featuring Usher and Gucci Mane. According to Ramos, after initial apprehension dissipated throughout the class, several students volunteered to perform in small groups or solos in front of the rest of the class, with a mix of their individual freestyle moves and Ramos’s choreography.
“I really like it when we just had to follow what he was doing, and there’s no backtracking. That part when he was just showing the moves in front of the mirror, and we had to follow along, he didn’t go back to correct mistakes or anything. We just went along with what he did. That’s a lot of fun because it’s nice to perfect your moves, but it’s also nice to just go along the flow,” said Clara Li ’19, who attended the class.
According to Ramos, he aimed to promote a comfortable, energetic environment for the diverse group of participants, regardless of previous dance experience, during the workshop. Each participant focused on absorbing Ramos’s moves and learning about his experiences as a high-profile professional in the hip-hop industry.
“It was interesting about the big turnout of people, like there was so much diversity here, and I’m happy for that because everyone should not think just because I’m white, or I’m black, or I’m Asian, that I have to dance or I don’t have to dance. There’s no boundaries,” said Abigail Ndikum ’20, who also attended the class.
Ramos believes that coming to Andover has allowed him to reflect back on his early passion in his career as a high school student. He also hopes to provide the same opportunities to develop a love for dance for Andover students.
“I decided to come [to Andover] because I always like to humble myself and go back to a place where I was where you guys are, and which is having someone be brought in and having some sort of mentor come in and give you the knowledge and information that you may need to get inspired, or to take the next foot forward, and so I wanted to get re-inspired myself and also just go back to where it all began, which was in high school,” said Ramos.
Despite the challenges he has faced in his journey to become a renowned figure in his field, Ramos says he strives to stay humble and thoughtfully reflect back on his early passion in his career.
“I faced a lot of trials and tribulations financially, mentally, physically. Everything gets to you after a certain while. I overcame it by just being positive and having good people around me, and just letting the bad and good times inspire me because when something’s bad, you obviously want to get better and want the day to get good, so you’re inspired to think positive. When you’re in a good place, you’re also inspired to keep it that way,” said Ramos.