The five self-proclaimed “hippies” of the Young Level Inc. dance crew haven’t performed as a complete unit in nearly a year, but they don’t want that trend to last.
“We’ve been through a lot together,” said 16-year-old Janetlys “Babyface” Rodriguez, a junior at East Wake High School. “I feel like we bring a lot of joy to the audience when they see us perform. It’s fun to work together, to see the audience excited and entertained.”
Rodriguez joined the crew as a freshman, at a time when all five members attended East Wake. Mister “Basedman” Taylor, Jahdon “Jay Fox” Halloway and Corey “Corey Fox” Bolden have since graduated, leaving only Rodriguez and Reese “Gemini Fox” Ingram the guarantee of seeing each other on a daily basis, at the school.
“Everyone’s in their own lives and I don’t know everyone’s schedule,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of the shows we performed at don’t do shows anymore, so we don’t really know what else is out there open for us.”
But despite staying busy with modeling, music and three roles she has earned in upcoming movies – including a lead part – she wants Young Level Inc. to carry on. She said the dance crew helped to mold her performing skills.
“My shyness broke,” Rodriguez said. “Every since I joined them, they helped me break out of my shyness, and that’s what has helped me most as a dancer.”
Ingram and Halloway formed the crew in 2012 in the wake of the jerk dancing movement that spread through the region several years ago, borrowing much of their title from the popular Level Inc. dance group that inspired them.
“Before we even met, (Ingram) was known for dancing,” Halloway said. “Reese was known for being a good jerker around Knightdale. We ended up going to the same high school and seeing each other around school we just decided to start dancing together and made a dance crew.”
Taylor and Bolden made Young Level a party of four and Rodriguez completed the ensemble soon after.
Forming an identity
A mutual friend’s apartment in Knightdale served as a meeting place for the crew early on.
“It felt like an everyday thing. It was an everyday thing,” Ingram said. “We started to get the feeling, you know, we wanted to do this a lot.”
Halloway credited the meeting place, where the members often spent the weekend, for much of the success the group had producing videos for its established fan base on YouTube.
When the members still attending East Wake got out of class for the day, the others who had already graduated would be waiting at the apartment ready to work on homework, dance videos and mixing music, he said.
The crew specializes in jerkin’, footworking and break dancing with other modern dance forms interwoven. But each member adds something unique.
“All of us have a talent and every member is different. We do the same moves, but we all have our own style,” Halloway said. “It happened for a reason.”
Their dress code is as much a part of who they are as the dancing aspect. Halloway said it fits in with their moniker as modern-era hippies, flashing back to the 80s.
“We dress weird, we really do,” Ingram confessed.
Halloway now lives in Goldsboro, making it even more of a necessity for the group to arrange times and locations to reassemble.
Young Level’s last group performance was in a teen talent competition last March at the Dream Center in Raleigh, where they won second place.
Ingram and Halloway hope their dance skills will continue to open new doors. Lately, they are having a good time dabbling in videography.
“Photography, videography – it can be anything with cameras,” Halloway said. “We’ll use the videography for what we do, and that’s dance. We’ll kind of mix it up, and it will help us get more supporters.”
Whatever that open door looks like, Ingram says it will involve dance.
“We wanted to do it for a living, so that’s why we’re still doing it now,” he said. “We’re just trying to get far with this. So far, we’re just doing performances. We want to get into business, but it could be anything.”