Tawnya McCoy, a dancer who has performed with artists like Ludacris, Snoop and B-Legit, was recently named the winner for BellaMoxi Dance Convention’s Emerging Artists Choreographic Festival in Torrance, California. Her award-winning routine, I Got the Juice, was performed by her L.Y.T.E Crew. To get to know McCoy a little more, check out her interview with Dance Informa.
When did you start dancing? What inspired you?
“I started dancing and performing at the age of three years old. What has inspired me to dance and never give up all these years was my passion. I first realized that when dance was a vehicle to tap into something that truly feels like euphoria to me. I feel I am tapped into my higher self when I am dancing, teaching and creating. That feeling has driven me my whole life. It is so strong in me that it is not something I could deny.
Self-expression through movement and music is something I could not live without and was determined to make a living and live a life doing exactly what I love. So I did just that, and I truly feel I am living a dream every day.”
In what styles did you train?
“I have had training in all styles, but hip hop and contemporary have always had my full heart – hip hop being my favorite and most influential to my creativity.”
When did you start choreographing?
“I have choreographed since the age of six. I used to put on full productions with my brother and sisters and sell tickets to my family to watch. It has always come naturally to me and has been an honest and true art form my entire life. Professionally, I have been creating for artists and students for the last seven years.”
What are your dance goals?
“This is a loaded question for me, but I am going to answer it to its entirety for the important point that anyone can do anything they put their mind to with hard work, focus, passion, gratitude and by always maintaining good relationships with everyone in the business.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a dancer and inspire and motivate others through dance. I wasn’t aware or educated on all the amazing avenues one could take to fulfill their passion to dance. I’ve worked very hard and had nothing handed to me easy. I have taken so many daring risks and have, at several points, given up everything to get where I am today.
I have built my studio, L.Y.T.E Dance Studio, which stands for ‘live your truth everyday’, from the ground up. It has been the best booking of my life so far. The youth and families who attend L.Y.T.E change my life and push me to grow every day. These kids and families come in with love, heart, kindness and passion, and it doesn’t feel like I work at all.
I also am the choreographer to L.Y.T.E Crew. This is a group of kids who motivate me and teach me amazing tools every day. They work so hard, and their passion is inspiring. I could not be more grateful for them all. They inspire me to be my best self every day, and watching the growth in their art, dance and, most importantly, in their character, truly makes it all worthwhile. It was L.Y.T.E Crew dancers who took the stage at BellaMoxi Dance Convention and implemented my vision. Without them, I would not be in this position. You guys are my GEMs! Shout out to my amazing little beans!
My next goals are to: travel the world teaching and spreading positivity and hoping to change the lives of others through dance; to choreograph for a major artist (or five); to write a motivational book about my journey; to keep growing my studio and to offer the best dance training facility to ever hit L.A.; and to change the lives of others around me with the gifts God has given me through dance and choreography.”
How did it feel being named the 2016 BellaMoxi Emerging Artist Choreographic Festival Winner in Torrance?
“What an amazing weekend that was. It truly humbled me and motivated me to work even harder for everything I want. It made me happier to know that my kids and my son are watching me work hard and climb the ladder of happiness and success and following my dreams. I think that means more to me than anything! Thank you again, BellaMoxi, for creating this platform for artists like myself to grow and be recognized.”
The routine you presented at BellaMoxi, I Got the Juice, was quite extensive. When did you start working on it? What was the rehearsal process like?
“This piece started about two months ago. Every time we performed it, I would see a newer and better vision for it, or take constructive judge notes and take the concept back to the board and go deeper with it.
Our rehearsals are all about pushing further and taking it to the next level. Shortly after BellaMoxi, this number was taken to the World of Dance stage and looked completely different. I saw that I could do so much more and go deeper into the vision. Thanks to BellaMoxi’s panel of judges for offering their honest thoughts, inspiration and creative vision. I take notes and always see how I can improve myself and how I can push my students.”
Looking to the future, how does this recognition with BellaMoxi push you to keep producing work? How can we follow your work moving forward?
“Being recognized for my vision and creativity felt amazing. I have been producing work for years, and it is very easy to feel that your work may go unnoticed. I realized long ago that if I create my work for others that I would never be happy. I create for me and what I feel, no matter how off-the-wall.
Last year, I created a piece on domestic violence. When the piece had finished, the room was silent. Some walked out and many cried. I watched the audience and just took it all in. I had succeeded. Some thought it was too much, and many loved it. But the bottom line is I moved them and caused an emotional and physical response while raising awareness on a situation that no one talks about. This piece was personal to me, and so I took my vision all the way there and did not hold back. That is how I create. So being recognized for being me is just another way of life telling me to keep going.
Dancers can train under me at L.Y.T.E Dance Studio. If they’re very serious about their dance career, they can audition for L.Y.T.E Crew and be a part of an industry crew definitely making a name for itself. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram under Tawnya McCoy or L.Y.T.E Dance Studio.”
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.
All photos courtesy of Tawnya McCoy and BellaMoxi.