CAMILLE DARKE-SHIELDS

CASIO X C-CHILD

Tell us a bit about the styles of dance you perform? Which is your favourite and why?
I am an all-styles dancer specific to street dance. Hip-hop is the main style I focus on. People misunderstand the style of hip-hop, not always knowing it is its own style of dance, just like tap or jazz. The term hip-hop itself sometimes gets used as an umbrella term for the whole culture of hip-hop/street culture. Aside from hip-hop, I’m a locker as well as a popper, which are two very different styles that both come from the west coast (California). Locking is a dance style that comes from the 70s Soul Train, Jackson 5 era, and popping started in the late 70s / early 80s and involves flexing your muscles quickly and repeatedly, making it look like your bones are “popping” out of your skin, as made famous by the Electric Boogaloos. I couldn’t pick one favourite dance style because they’re all so different! They’re danced to different music, they have a different groove and feel behind them, and they’re too unique to pick a favourite.

What about the dancing culture inspires you?
Street dance/hip-hop culture is inspiring because so many different people with different backgrounds and stories from across the globe contribute to this community. Nobody wants to look the same—the dance and culture of hip-hop is known for being true to yourself and wanting to be a unique individual. Visually, these dances are so pleasing to the eye, which I think is why people are so drawn to watching street dance styles. Something like breaking, for instance, where these people are flipping through the air and spinning on their heads is crazy because it defies what the human body can do. I find it inspiring because the level of these styles is at an ultimate high around the world, which makes me want to train, battle, and share with as many other dancers as possible. This culture is so important to me because it is my life! It’s a lifestyle. Something that I practise every day, that you share with your community and people around you. It’s much, much more than just a dance.

Where did the name C-Child come from?
The name C-Child was given to me by a bboy from the Bay Area named Power Serge. He was here teaching breakin’ back in 2003 for a few weeks over the summer, where I was fortunate enough to learn from him. I was 9 at the time, which I think is where the “Child” part of the name fits in. People have always called me that since then! When hip-hop culture was first born, gang members or crews would all have nicknames for each other. At first it was so no one would know their real name if they got into trouble, but a lot of the time people’s names had a story behind maybe a city they’re from, move they were known for, or even a defining characteristic about themselves. Camille-Child, Calgary-Child, Canada-Child.

CASIO X C-CHILD

What message do you try to convey through your dancing?
I try to be free. I dance for myself, and don’t necessarily think of giving off a message; however, I hope people feel they want to dance when they see me dance. I hope it brings a smile or any sense of feeling to them! It all depends on the music, because the music always comes before the dance. The only time I feel the need to convey a specific message is when I put a piece of choreography out for people to see, which would depend on my life or mood at that time. At the end of the day, I hope people would see how dance can heal you, that you don’t have to be good at it as long as you enjoy it and that it makes you feel good. That’s all that matters.


What was your most challenging dance routine?
No one dance routine comes to mind. Routines are usually stored in my mind for as long as needed, then pretty much flushed from my memory. I’m not really a choreography person as much as I am a freestyle dancer. So, on that note, the hardest class I’ve ever taken was probably a dancer from France named Meech. It was a House class I took, and that guy worked us so damn hard I ran to the bathroom after class and had my head in the toilet. The most physically demanding class ever! That guy is a BEAST, absolutely amazing.

We understand that you participate in various battles in Calgary’s street dance scene. What has been the most memorable experience battling?
I try to battle whenever I can, and the feeling behind it is almost always different. Sometimes I feel like I’ll just show up and see how it goes. Sometimes I really just wanna dance with my people/friends in the community. Sometimes I’m
hungry and I’m going because I want to win! But the most memorable battle was probably last year at the 7 To Smoke, All Styles jam. The best freestyles dancers in Calgary were asked to battle each other kind of in the hill style, which ended up being all my friends, which was so dope! I was the only female in the battle and ended up winning! Didn’t expect it, but the fact that I was the only chick there and goin’ up against all my friends made the victory pretty sweet.

CASIO X C-CHILD

You also teach at Pulse Studios in Calgary. Why is it so important to teach others?
I take huge pride in my teaching! It’s so important to me because you never know who you may have an influence on. I know, growing up, my dance teachers were my idols. They had a bigger influence on me than any school teacher I ever
had, any coach, etc. I truly wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for my teachers. Because of that, I put many hours into planning what I’m going to teach, what music I’m going to play, and, aside from the dance aspect, how and what culturally I need to educate my class on. I’ve put many, many hours and spent a lot of money on my dance education. Making sure I took from the pioneers, the originators, and wrote down all the information I heard first-hand from people like Mr. Wiggles, so I got the true story. Because of that it’s my duty to make sure people are properly educated on this street culture. So many people inform people incorrectly, or don’t know what they’re talking
about, which jeopardizes the culture. Honestly, a lot of them shouldn’t be teaching. It’s my passion and responsibility to educate people properly.

If you could give advice for aspiring dancers, what have you learned that you would want them to know?
Dance is universal. Movement is universal. No matter what the style is, moving your body feels good. I’d say follow the style that fills your soul! Be respectful of the art form and do your research so you’re getting the proper educators. Find
the source of the dance! And be prepared to work hard because of all the arts. Dancers get paid horribly—haha! Don’t do it for the money. Do it because you love it.

CASIO X C-CHILD

How does Casio fit into your life as a dancer?
As a hip-hop dancer, you always want to look fresh. That’s just part of the culture, so A, it looks good, you must stay stylish! B, it’s important while I’m teaching to keep track of how many things I need to get through over the course of my class. It helps me be punctual and organized. Especially when I’m teaching for five hours at a time!


Where would you like to take your dance career?
I used to want to move somewhere like L.A or New York! However, as I get older I feel like I have a responsibility to Calgary. So many incredible dancers have moved away to pursue bigger things, but I’m happy in this city. I want to inspire the people who are here and keep the level as high as I can! Contribute to the community and the hip-hop
scene and share all my knowledge with the people here. I’ve made amazing connections with street dancers from all over the world, whether because they’ve travelled here to teach/dance or I’ve travelled to New York or wherever and exchanged with them! As long as I’m doing these dances properly and the people that matter (i.e., the creators)
respect me, well, then I’ve done my job!