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Last night I found myself in this grand spectacle of lights and show biz. I got to breakdance as part of ShowPeace Entertainment at the Dazzle the District event at Playhouse Square. It feels kind of like a dream.

Click here to watch a news story about the event which features a cameo of me and Tony at 1:20! Here’s an animated GIF of the part where we make an appearance.

showpeace entertaiment at Dazzle the District at Playhouse Square in Cleveland

This is a moment that I’m sure I’ll remember for a long time. It’s kind of a dream come true in a weird way. I never imagined being a performer like this on such a big stage. But lately, as I’ve been listening to my heart and allowing my higher self to guide my direction in life, it has pushed me onto the stage.

So here I am!

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I’ve started breakdancing about 10 years ago in college but it kind of died out after I graduated. Then in 2010 I got back into and took classes from Swift Ali and BZ Broox from time to time. I’ve performed at a few random small events and recitals, but nothing as big as this. It wasn’t a huge goal of mine to perform or become the best b-boy, I’m just going with the flow and it brought me here.

Jeff Finley breakdance at Playhouse Square

Photo by Luanne Bole-Becker

But it would never have happened if I didn’t meet my current teacher and friend Anthony “Tony Fresh” Velez. A few years ago, Tony won the first b-boy battle at WMC Fest that I put on. I never actually met him until years later but I never got to know him until I started taking classes with him.

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From the get-go he believed in me like nobody else had. I found it kind of odd how much love and encouragement he gave me. We started hanging out and talking about our life goals and passions and found we had a lot in common. He saw my potential and asked me to join his breakdance crew ShowPeace Entertainment.

But I quickly realized ShowPeace is a lot more than just a crew. A week or two before this Playhouse Square gig, I got to watch one of his shows. He combined breakdancing sets with lectures and lots of crowd participation. He’s a gifted public speaker and had the audience at the Latino Youth Conference smiling and having so much fun. His goal is to inspire and uplift the community, a lot like mine.

We had only a week and a half to prepare for the Playhouse Square gig and it was literally being put together on the fly up until the last minute. There were changes to our music just days before the event and we constantly updating our routine to adapt to changing event logistics.

breakdancing at playhouse square

photo by Luanne Bole-Becker

At approximately 9:30 PM we made our way to the 200 foot runway in the center of the crowd. And as the song reached our part, we stood up and the light shined down on us as we shouted “Lights on in Cleveland! This is the city we believe in!” And then proceeded to get down and break as the crowd around us cheered and looked on in delight.

That’s all we had, about 30 seconds of dance. It was just a small piece in the massive puzzle that was the Dazzle the District event where they lit up this million dollar chandelier in the middle of the street. It now holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest outdoor chandelier in the world.

bright lights in cleveland!

Photo found on @playhousesquare Twitter

It’s hard to believe I was up on that stage. There are obviously so many better dancers than myself, but why me? Isn’t that interesting? I didn’t have to be the best. I didn’t even have to be second best.

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I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Synchronicity? Law of Attraction? Blind luck? Sure why not. I believe it’s because I’m just allowing my heart and higher self to guide me and I have no expectations. I believe you get back what you put out there. If I don’t get another gig after this, I would be happy. I’m going to keep breaking and enjoy the ride.

And I can’t thank Tony enough, he inspired me to put my love of breaking into my lecture at Edinboro last week. And I’ll be doing more of that from now on!

I hope this post can be a small example that by doing what you love to do, good things can happen. You never know what opportunities may arise and you don’t have to be the best to receive them.

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Paula
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Your way of being in the world lights it up every bit as much as the chandelier lights up the Square. Thank you for your open-spirited sharing of this amazing journey. I’m glad our paths have aligned!

Jeff Finley
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Thanks Paula, yes, I am glad too. If you ever want to grab a cup of coffee one of these days, I’ll make time!