In December I had the pleasure of seeing my little brother Lukas take part in a street dance version of the play ‘the Nutcracker’ directed by amazing Steen Koerner. The female head character caught my attention with her explosive and strong movements, mixed with this clean female energy and grace. I immediately felt the urge to capture and share. Therefore.
Superstar. Meet Delphine Nguyen also known as Deydey. She's one of the top female poppers in the world and travels far and wide to perform, teach, compete and judge. Deydey literally made popping history when she became the first female World Popping Champion after winning battles in major dance competitions. In my eyes Deydey falls completely into the category of strong women smashing a very competitive industry with such grace. So on our cold December walk we talked about pursuing a career in the dance industry and balancing female/male energy while she danced every now and then.
Deydey has genetic roots in Vietnam but is born an raised in France. Now living between Paris and Eindhoven. She's been dancing since the end of the 90's starting with hiphop inspired by her two older sisters. Eventually she developed her popping and locking and specialized in the funkstyle dances.
A: Tell me how your dancing career started?
D: I started dancing in my neighbourhood with my friends outside in the street. I grew up in an area where hiphop was very present with lots of rappers, dancers and block parties. This was at the end of the 90's I was around 7/8 years old. Since those days I kept on dancing had my first crew in 2000 called "Lil Sistas" then at the end of 2001 "Smiley Crew" with who I experienced my first theater piece, choreographic contests and travels! I started entering battles in 2000, started teaching in 2003. In 2006 I decided to move to Paris to pursue my dream to become a professional dancer. From entering and winning battles I made a name and started to get offers to dance in companies and also for artists. This is where my dancing carrier started.
I grew up in an area where hiphop was very present with lots of rappers, dancers and block parties
A: What would you say to others if they dream about pursuing a career within dancing?
D: Go for it! But know that it's going to be a lot of hard work ! And never forget why you started dancing at the first point, the love and passion you have for it. One advice I can give is be ready to be open minded, know your strength, be confident and once again don't forget who you are and where you come from!
..be open minded, know your strength, be confident..
A: In the professional world that you’re in - have you ever felt like you had to compensate or adjust the balance of your male/female energy?
D: As a kid I was surrounded by men, grew up with 4 brothers and was raised by my dad for a while.. So I had mainly male energy. I think that's why I have never been scared, felt unwelcomed or uncomfortable in this "manly" world. But I'm not gonna lie, when I got invited to be one of the 16 dancers at UK Bboy Championships Solo Popping Battle, one of the biggest international contest, nobody believed I could win. Not even my close people. It just felt impossible that a woman would win this competition. But I trained so so hard for it that I did! After winning it, which was the first (and last) time ever a woman won this category, besides all the nice comments and people being happy that a Woman changed the game, there were a lot of macho comments, many men who were unhappy with me (a woman) winning, saying stuff like "stay in the kitchen", "she won because the judges thought she was pretty" (even more disgusting comments that I don't even wanna repeat!). I felt so disrespected as a woman but also towards my art. I got very sad and upset from all those comments that I decided to train hard again and win the next competition which was Juste Debout (the biggest 2vs2 in the world) to show that it wasn't luck or "just because I'm a woman" but because of my level! And I did it. Growing up I got more aware of my male/female energy and I realized how important and strong my female energy is. Now I think I managed to find the right balance that makes me able to adapt to any situations. I don't think about it I'm just being myself and try the most to be true to my feelings and emotions.
nobody believed I could win. Not even my close people. It just felt impossible that a woman would win this competition
I realized how important
and strong my female energy is.
Before I met up with Deydey I did a check up on her digital appearance in order to address my questions better and I stumbled upon a bunch of crew photos of 6 women of different origin..
A: You are part of an all female dance crew. What are the members to you?
D: My all female crew, Zamounda Crew, we've been together since 2010 Antoinette, Sarah Bee, Alfreda, Manuela and myself . We are first of all good friends. As dancers we have each of us reached a high level in our styles and beside that we are also versatile. One common thing we have is crazy energy and when we get all together it's like fireworks! Lol it's an amazing feeling standing together with them, its like feeling invincible! We know how to push each others limits and to give each of us confidence. Which is important as a crew.
Ethnic street Fashion
A: I fell secretly in love with Deydeys hoodie and realized it's from her own clothing brand.
D: My clothing brand is a project I have together with my crewmate Manuela. She started to make clothing with her mom whenever she was going to her native country Central Africa. I loved it so much that I was pushing her to make it a real thing. We both got invited to the Redbull dance academy. The basic idea of the camp was to build a platform for influential international dancers and to support us on our way to professionalism where ever this professionalism is leading to (staying in the scene, going on theatre-stages, photo-videography, etc...). That is where it all started for Manuela and me we decided to go for it and build our own brand Bole&Guyen. Our brand is a fusion of ethnic fabrics and contemporary Street fashion exactly representing who we are; two girls from Africa and Asia living in Europe as professional hiphop dancers.
a fusion of ethnic fabrics and contemporary Street fashion exactly representing who we are; two girls from Africa and Asia living in Europe as professional hiphop dancers.
A: Your biggest aspiration in life?
D: To reach full happiness and wisdom and spread it to people around me thru my art.
My first Video. Below.
A: If you have a point or something else that you want to share. please do.
D: I feel so lucky and blessed having a passion and that I pushed myself to be "someone" and get somewhere. I know that this "dancer life" can end anytime so I try to cherish every moment of it! I believe art is one of the best way to escape and heal from all the troubles in life. So yeah I just wanna say thank you to life and thank you to dance and thank you to all the people that I met along my path that made me who I am today. Much love to you all!
Personal note. Thank you Miss Deydey, it was a pleasure working with you! Thank you for dancing for me and my lens in the cold degrees. Most importantly thanks for being such a down to earth, connected, and grace- and powerful rolemodel for many young women out there pursuing the dream of dancing professionally.
The shoot. For me this shoot was about capturing a dancer from a personal angle. Not on stage but in the streets. Working with a dancer still photos never due the art 100 pct right, so I filmed some shaky videoclips in between. Nothing planned just roughly putted together. My first video ever. Disclaimer: Deydey were dancing to tones of her imagination, so I take the full responsibility of frames where she might not hit the beat.
In fact it was me not hitting it when editing. Watch it above or here.
Thanks for reading this story!