I have known Bly for a long time now; he was actually one of my first Teachers and is probably the strongest foundation I have and also from Huddersfield representing the North he has made his mark living in London for the past 10 years. Bly had won the dance TV show Bump ‘n’ Grind 2 which landed him a contract with a dance agency, a couple of jobs with some artists and a spot to teach at Pineapple Dance Studios, the rest they say is history.
Since then Bly has performed for numerous music artists including Madonna, Kano, Rachel Stevens, Labrinth and more recently Kiesza. He has also performed in numerous stage shows and featured on many television shows. As a member of Plague (the only UK crew to win the HHI World Hip Hop Championships – and they’ve won it twice!), Bly has appeared on BBC3’s “Move Like Michael Jackson”, in the movie “Streetdance 3D” and in the iconic Michael Jackson tribute stage show “MJ Timeless”
Bly has studied both Hip Hop and House extensively but is considered a house dance specialist and has won house battles at the House Dance UK, Stylefest competitions and even landed himself a spot on the world famous Juste Debout stage in Paris in front of over 15,000 spectators. He has been part of the force that built the house dance scene in the UK and is an influence to many aspiring dancers, including myself.
I have always been amazed by the way Bly’s mind works when thinking about dance, how particular he is and actually quite technical. Technical with a natural groove, something you rarely see and it’s what sets the amazing dancers apart from the good (in my opinion). In the past I have spent long hours learning from Bly he has given me some of the craziest tasks with the aim of building our strength of character, not just dance. An example is a time when he took a group of us to a shopping centre 11 years ago (I was 14) to make us complete tasks that drew attention to us in front of the many of people there – one was to stop suddenly and point to the sky in awe of something (made up) while the others hung back to watch, it was only when 20 heads looking up were counted that we were allowed to stop. Although this sounds silly, this was to get over the fear of embarrassment and also any sort of stage fright. Little things like that, and there were a lot, were part of the the building blocks to building confidence and taking on challenges without worrying about what others think.
As I look up to Bly, it was more than satisfying to hear the answers to the following questions that try to dig a little deeper to find out what really makes him tick. Enjoy.
We already know that the key to being good is long hours of practice and dedication but what motivated you to keep going, in order to reach this point?
My motivation has always been the love of what I am actually doing, it doesn’t seem like work or a chore or even an effort to have to do it. It’s just a choice to want to keep progressing.
A few years ago I had a goal which was to be the best house dancer in the UK and eventually the world. So for the longest time this is what motivated me, knowing the experiences I would have travelling the world and representing the UK putting us on the map as prior to this we weren’t really noticed around the world for having great dancers.
Shortly after I entered my first house battle in the UK and won, then entered another and won, then was judging. I think it’s like going to the gym, it gets easier and you push harder once you start seeing results, the results alone inspire and motivate you to keep going to push yourself to see what you can actually achieve.
The main thing I do now is teach, and again I just love to teach, knowing that I am helping and inspiring others to get better in themselves is fulfilling. And with great responses from people who take my classes just makes me happy which leads to me wanting to continue and do more.
Extra note on this, when I go to dance events and see other great dancers doing their thing, I just want to go home and practice because they have inspired me 🙂
When in a judging position, what are the top 3 things you look for? What do you hate the most?
It depends on what type of event I am judging, for a Street Dance competition the first think I look at is the dancers timing, if they are in time and actually listening to the music. This is because so many dancers are off time that it’s the first and easiest way to differentiate the better dancers from the ones that need more time.
Secondly would be the dancers feeling, if they are actually grooving/dancing rather than just doing technique/dance steps. An understanding of their body movement will be shown through this.
Thirdly would be the performance, the energy and enjoyment they emit. If they make me smile and captivate me then that is a great sign and every dancers aim should be that. To perform is for others enjoyment.
If I am judging an underground battle then I need to look at more detail, the first thing being their musicality and dance/feeling. With musicality I mean if they dance in time, if they sit in the beat and then the level of understanding of music they have. Rather than just dancing to a basic tempo of the song I am looking for how advanced they can hear and show/execute their dance to different sounds and rhythms within the music.
Secondly would be how good their technique is of whatever style they are dancing – I would be looking at the intricacy of the moves they are doing, whether its basic foundations or complex moves and variations.
Thirdly would be the tricks and blow ups they use, in a battle you are trying to show you are better than your opponent so need special weapons that give you extra points over them, again performance comes into this.
Describe what your interpretation or idea of a perfect dancer is.
Hmm, my idea of a perfect dancer would be someone who fully understands their own body, a person who is flexible and strong, has a great understanding of music as taking us on a journey through the song bringing our attention to the details within the music.
To fully be relaxed not feeling any pressure, they would have the upmost confidence in themselves so they can do very little but still have a strong presence by just standing still. They would know all of the foundations within their style but also many other dance styles. From having this they would have created their own unique style within this. They would be a great performer and very humble.
Good on their feet, on the ground and also air bound with flips and tricks.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
To be honest I haven’t thought about it but hopefully I will be surrounded by successful businesses that I run that still push and inspire other people, within dance and film. I think I will still be teaching but maybe less with just masterclasses/workshops. I could still be in London or America 🙂 and will have the experience/finances to invest in and help others attain their dreams also.
There’s a lot of hype around and sometimes people come and go… How do you stay true to yourself and movement even when there’s a new craze everyone is hyping over?
It’s exactly that, I just stay true to myself by doing what I love, I don’t dance for others, I do me and pass this on to others willing to learn. The reason I never trained doing Contemporary, Ballet etc is because I dance the styles of the music I love. I never thought of becoming a professional dancer, it just happened and the reason I don’t pursue it is because I felt in order to get more work I needed to do things that are not me which would mean I am just doing them for money and I refuse to do things I don’t like doing just because of money.
I even find this problem with my hip hop classes, the hype right now is commercial dance, girl contemporary movement. I just won’t teach this just to get numbers in my class. It’s sometimes frustrating because if dancers learn what I have to offer which is primarily based from the original hip hop movements this will help them improve their dance/feeling but I understand that 1. It’s difficult and people feel insecure because they find their weakness of not being able to groove at first and 2. They want to be dancers and dance work in this country is primarily commercial. There are no R&B/Hip Hop artists to actually get work for doing what I would call Hip Hop dance
If dance was like a martial art in a movie, who would you choose to be your master and why?
I would have to choose Brian Green, because I think he is a phenomenal dancer, and in many styles. He is already great and has the world of experience but to this day he still takes classes to continuously improve so that is a lot of knowledge he could share with me. He is also the only teacher that has really challenged me and made me think in a way that I can create and practice by myself to improve, rather than just practice a step I have been taught. He opened up my mind to other places where you can go with the step. He also stayed at my home one time and actually gave me a step to practice whilst he went to have a nap due to jet-lag and I had to practice for hours until he woke, this experience actually felt like how I feel Karate Kid felt with Mr Miyagi.
Words to live by?
If you want to live an extraordinary life, you have to do extra ordinary things.
Where there is a will there is a way.
And there you have it! What do you think? Please add your comments below to express how you feel about any part of this post so we can get a discussion going or even just to show your love, please do!
I just want to say thank you to Bly, one of my teachers from ground up for not only taking the time to answer these questions for us all but for taking the time with me and being so generous with his dance knowledge over the past 12 years, you have gave me confidence, new ways of thinking and countless belly laughing moments.
If you want find out more about Bly search for Bly Richards on Facebook and follow @blyrichards on Instagram where he is constantly keeping everyone engaged with cool videos, inspiring quotes and interesting updates.
Bly is also very skilled in videographer so check out www.blyfilms.uk for information on getting your choreography/concept videos shot and edited by him.