Dancer Moonyeka Creates Safe Spaces in Seattle’s Popping Scene and Beyond

Editor’s Note: Step into the shoes of dancers from across the country who dare to imagine what it would look like if their city could dance with KQED’s If Cities Could Dance. Watch a new episode from season two of the video series every Tuesday through May 14, 2019.

When Angel Alviar-Langley was growing up, she didn’t see many women of color at Seattle dance battles. But on the occasions she witnessed female poppers holding their own, she was in awe. Now, the dancer, who also goes by Moonyeka, is dedicated to fostering inclusive spaces with projects like Lil Brown Girls Club, a movement-based mentorship program she founded for black and brown girls.

"I don't see enough spaces that are intergenerational," she says. "[I'm] passing on whatever tools I know to other girls of color, other queer people of color."

Moonyeka, who reps South King County, first fell in love with dance at her Filipinx family’s parties, where people of all ages got together to move, eat and sing karaoke.  Later she gravitated towards street dance, and eventually found a home in popping—whose organic, expressive feel stood out from the eurocentric styles she studied as a dance major at the University of Washington.

Amid the male-dominated battle scene, Moonyeka found community with other like-minded women and LGBTQ+ people. Creating spaces for them to express themselves has become a core part of her practice. In addition to Lil Brown Girls Club, she organizes the ‘What’s Poppin Ladiez?!’ street dance convention, as well as Werkshop, a dance, drag and performance open mic for femmes.

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For Moonyeka, dance is a form of community-building and healing. “It's about finding your own power, and reflecting with each other, and holding each other, and knowing how to witness each other and how to stand in your own power alone or together,” she says.

Watch Moonyeka and other Seattle dancers pop, strut and waack at the Seattle Center, across the Jose Rizal Bridge and in the alleyways of the International district.  —text by Nastia Voynovskaya

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