When we last spoke to Brandee Evans, she was in the middle of her popular Hip Hop in Heels series, classes to help women, usually non-dancers, up their sexy through dance, while preparing to choreograph Ledisi’s national tour. She created a sizzle reel after coaxing from her management team who knew she had an inspiring story to share in both her professional and personal life (The L.A.-based Evans balances taking care of her mother in Memphis, who has a chronic illness, with traveling internationally to judge dance competitions and work with the likes of Katy Perry, Pitbull and Laurieann Gibson.)
Soon thereafter, Evans was courted by several networks and tapped by OWN to work with the Mane Attraction dance team at Atlanta’s Westlake High School. Dance Crash, a one-hour special which debuted on the network this past Saturday.
Working with the high school dancers may have been her most challenging job yet, as she was faced with a group struggling to find their place in the world of competitive hip hop dance. Luckily, she was able to use her experience as both a dance competition judge and former high school English teacher to meet the kids where they are.
”I’m an English teacher sometimes, but then again, I’m a professional dancer where I’m just like these kids auditioning,” she says, “and sometimes I’m working with artist, and then sometimes I’m working with a dance team.”
There’s been an explosion in television shows centered around dance, and Evans says she watches them all, but Dance Crash focuses more on making a positive impact on youth than eight-counts and pivots. “Yes, dance is good, but Dance Crash is moreso about making a difference for these girls, and I’m using dance to do it,” she says.
She shared lessons she learned as an amateur dancer with Mane Attraction, although they might not have liked her tactics. “If this is something you want to do, you want to get better at it, and you do want to be told when something is wrong,” she says. “You’re getting consequences now, so I’m showing you what the real world is.”
Evans loves molding young dancers to prevent common mistakes she’s made in competitive dance, even if it’s through tough love. “I’m not going to baby them. I’m going to say, ‘You look a hot mess,’ but I’m also going to say, ‘Okay, great job. I finally saw what you did (differently), and you look so much better.’”