Berlin is Burning: The City’s Hottest Dancers on Their Influences Beyond the Club Scene

The editorial showing the new Adidas EQT collection on the dancers it was made for

Dance is an intrinsic part of Berlin’s identity. Its world famous club scene rest on the freedom and expression of movement; without it, there would be no scene, and no Berlin as we know it. Berlin attracts people from every walk of life, who come for the laid-back atmosphere and amazing parties (and stay for them, too). Whether you’re wearing all black to impress Sven or glittering head to toe in Kreuzberg, the style of Berlin is eclectic and bold. To encompass this mentality and to honour Adidas EQT’s new collection and revival, we took the clothes to their roots. SLEEK’s editorial, shot by Patricia Ruiz Portal, presents the collection on hardened Berlin clubbers and dancers in their working environment and on the street. We talked to the models to see how Berlin influences them, and to find out why they continue to dance through the night.

Stephan B. Quinci

How did you fall in love with dance?

I have been in love with dance since I can remember. My parents would take me to the ballet and opera as a child. Although I always loved dance I did not actually take my first class until I was 16. It was at this age I realised that if I wanted to pursue dance I would have to start then, otherwise it could be too late to make something of it. Dance has always been a part of my life and my upbringing, through going to the ballet, watching my older sisters’ performances, and finally through my own training  and development into a career today.

What brought you to Berlin to dance? How is the community here?

I moved to Berlin in the fall of 2015, shortly after finishing my bachelors in the US. I came to the city without having ever been here. I was drawn by the vibrant arts scene, youth culture, queer community, and history. The dance scene in Berlin is always growing and in flux with the constant flow of artists moving into the city. Compared to other capital cities, I find aspects of the dance scene here to be relatively small and unfocused, but also experimental, and DIY.

This city is known as a hedonistic paradise, how do you feel Berlin inspires you and your style? Do you feel inspired by Berlin’s clubbing scene?

People in Berlin always inspire me – on the streets, at events, or at clubs. I love the visible freedom of style and identity. While living in Berlin and being a part of art, queer, and club circles, I have seen my style evolve. I feel more comfortable being able to present myself in less conformist and normative ways. Parties function as safe spaces which allow you to explore everything. I have always maintained a “work hard, play hard” attitude and find that after a long and exhausting week of dancing and training, sometimes what I really need to relax is to go out dancing. I find crossover between my professional and social life through my interest in exploring gender and sexuality through my art, as I am constantly inspired to push, express, and radicalise.

Isi Wayne

How did you fall in love with dance?

I fell in love with music first. Dancing for me is an expression of feelings through the music and it always keeps my inner balance.

Do you feel inspired by Berlin’s clubbing scene?

Of course, not only through dancing but also through its fashion. You have the rough, cold, black techno parties where can lose yourself but there is also the “other” techno party where you can find glitter, feathers and colour. The hip-hop side of Berlin also inspires me, the place you can find old school streetwear and printed bomber jackets.

Who was your first dance idol?

Michael Jackson of course — the one and only! The first thing I taught myself was the moonwalk. I wanted to learn it so badly that I kept practicing the moonwalk every single day until I learned it. It was my first step into my dancing career.

How do you feel Berlin influences you and your style?

You meet so many different people here with different stories from their lives. You are influenced everyday, you can’t not be. Yesterday, for example, I got inspired by an Asian girl with silver hair wearing a yellow jacket and I thought to myself, “Nice!”

La’Mel Clarke

When did you fall in love with dance?

I knew I wanted to pursue dance professionally when I watched a TV series called “America’s Best Dance Crew”.

What are the challenges within what you do?

From a logistical point of view, making a living from your art whilst maintaining your own artistic integrity. I also find that I don’t create as much as I want because I am very picky about what I do and sometimes I get stuck in my head and second guess myself. I think sometimes I would be better off just throwing everything at a wall and seeing what sticks.

This city is known for his hedonism and escapism. Do you feel that dance evokes that within you? How do you feel Berlin influences you and your style?

I would say the hedonism of Berlin goes hand in hand with my creativity. Often I’ll be out at a club and I’ll have a great idea for a piece, or I’ll mentally choreograph something. Berlin is a crazy dichotomy of being uber-chic but also really laid-back. Since being here, I’ve really experimented with how I can incorporate more sportswear into my wardrobe.

Who inspires you right now?

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible dancers, so I can’t possibly name them all. From the groups that I dance with in London (Avant Garde Dance and Definitives) to people that I’ve met in Berlin in random classes, I feel like they all inspire me to some degree.

Elise Hoggard

How did you fall in love with dance?

I fell in love with dance the day I heard music! I first understood I was a dancer when I was around nine years old when my mum took me to a workshop. I walked into the studio and saw a room full of girls, dancing, bossy as hell, confident as anything, it was magic! Just finding that space for me, filled with magnetic, tangible energy, I was hooked. Shout out to Pump Dance Studios and Dance Crew in Wellington, NZ.

How do you feel Berlin influences you and your style? Do you feel inspired by Berlin’s clubbing scene?

My style is constantly evolving. I love change, and this is the 4th country I’ve lived in. New places offer a fresh perspective and purpose that inspires me. The togetherness of people from all walks of life truly embracing each others differences is a beautiful thing. The city’s drive to dance all night, and this shoot, have inspired me to get back to my dance roots and teach lessons again. I want to empower women like me, who want to dance regularly without the alcohol and drugs! I am creating a space for women to connect, grow in their self-confidence and clap back to the beat…watch this space.

How do you cope with the rigorous training that goes alongside the beautiful front of dance?

It’s funny you say the front of dance. It totally is a front. The passion is real and you can’t fake energy or choreography on stage, that’s all skill, but damn does it take serious training to perform! I like to practice yoga in the morning, it sets me up well for the rest of the day and I bike to and from work everyday… I’m a bit of a speed demon!

Does the hedonistic spirit of this city evoke the dance “feeling” within you?

Dancing is one of the most invigorating yet simultaneously exhausting acts. Pleasurable doesn’t begin to explain it. There is something to be said for escapism within dance, within any act of pleasure, switching off from reality and connecting wholeheartedly to the body. That’s living.


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