Jaylen Daley ’25, an avid member of Fusion, Hypnotiq, and Big Blue Cheer, has been dancing for as long as they can remember. Gravitating towards hip-hop, Daley was influenced by iconic artists like Alicia Keys and Michael Jackson. Daley’s involvement in the art form began much earlier — in the early 2010s — when Daley was merely a toddler.
“I was drawn to it as my mom put me in the dance program to try to make me less energized. I was still a baby when she put me in. Afterward, it became natural to me. I eventually developed more dance interest after watching YouTube videos. It became something I wanted to do and be interested in. Hip-hop is still my strongest dance genre…[but] my dance experience has changed as my teachers, culture, and the internet have evolved,” said Daley.
Even though Daley has a passion for hip-hop, coming to Andover has allowed them to evolve and increase his versatility. They especially highlighted the experience of dancing ballet in “The Nutcracker Reimagined” performance this winter.
“Andover is one of the more classical dance environments I have ever been in. Most of my basis has been in [the] Dance as a Sports program. Which I have taken every term since I have been here. It has been very focused on modern and ballet. Even performing in the ‘Nutcracker’ was the third or fourth time I have performed ballet. Overall, Andover has changed my perspective on dance. If you told me I would be performing [the] ‘Nutcracker’ in my school when I was ten, I would say that I was not interested in that,” said Daley.
Daley attributed the biggest inspiration for his dance passion to his music taste. Whether it be rap or hip-hop, their dances always depend on the music that they are currently gravitating towards. In emphasizing the interplay between dance and his daily life, Daley highlighted how this art form has become an integral part of who they are.
“The real reason why Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé were so fundamental is because my dances change based on my music taste. So, it explores different crevices of the internet sometimes… Wherever my music goes, I dance to it, and it is less a ‘who’ but a ‘where’… [Dancing] is everywhere around me, and it is a major part of who I am,” said Daley.
One of Daley’s friends, Mayumi Kawano ’25, spoke about his energy on stage. Highlighting the impact Daley has on those around them, Kawano found that Daley’s contagious enthusiasm is a key aspect of his dancing.
“[Their dancing] is super expressive, very boisterous, and energetic. It makes me laugh and smile. The facial expressions Jaylen uses are so perfect they emanate how they are feeling in a moment… They exude confidence every single moment. You can’t help but smile whenever they smile,” said Kawano.