Often we admire and idolize well-known, always-in-the-spotlight, uber-rich individuals and we fail to recognize the most inspirational people right next to us and even within our own circle of friends. You may think, "Oh, that's just Sandra. We've been friends since junior high and we went to summer camp together for years. She makes an amazing pot roast." But to a complete stranger, Sandra is literally, a goddess. One of their top three chef idols, follows their every move on social media, prints out all of Sandra's recipes and references her when dishing the latest on spices and seasoning combinations.
An individual that I'm honored to recognize is my dear friend and vogue dancer, community leader, Shireen Rahimi. From the first time I met her in my late teens, she has always been real and true to herself. She embodies a unique type of energy that one can immediately feel. It makes you want to start dancing wherever you are and she'll start dancing with you too! What I love most about my friend, is that she is completely selfless. One characteristic that not many people possess, which I believe is why her devotion to enriching the youth with her passion for dance and motivating youngsters to be their absolute best, has impacted thousands of lives through her classes, events and shows. Shireen has a one-of-a-kind type of style and is unafraid to push the limits and mix all sorts of prints, vintage pieces, wild colors, jazzy jewelry and sneakers for days. The world needs more Shireen Rahimis.
Peep my exclusive interview below:
|Shireen Rahimi performing at the 10 year anniversary party for the LGBT Center of San Francisco.|
|Freestyle circle with the Tenderloin After School and Ekatva Youth Programs.|
|All-Styles 2x2 Battle in Oakland. Team Semi-Sweet.|
|Shireen performing with the ladies of Mix'D Ingrdnts. Opening Act for the The Embodiment Show at Dance Mission Theater.|
|The Dopest Outsiders core dancers from 2011-2012 school year.|
|Freestyle circle (picture 2).|
|Shireen's BASS fitted hat keychain + Pistol earrings|
Xiomara: When it comes to dance, what are the types of things you look for in clothes when you are headed to practice and when you're performing?
Shireen: When attending a practice I have to be comfortable, yet, comfortably stylish. So just sweats and a plain T-shirt is doesn't cut it 'cause that's just too boring and dance is FAR from boring, especially the styles I'm involved in. Dance, like style and fashion, is a form of expression. It's important for me to show my personality in my outfits. It's not about wearing a cute piece, it's about the whole outfit being cohesive. Whether it's casual, stylish or upscale. And when it comes to being in a studio or on stage at a performance, just think of me as an 'In-Living-Color' FLY GIRL. But honestly, that's my day-to-day NOT just character on stage. I'm about that life.... prints on prints on prints...there is no limitation.
Xiomara: What are the types of dance you specialize in?
Shireen: Vogue & House dance. Two similar yet very different styles. Each are about freedom and groove, not so much about technicality.
Xiomara: How long have you been teaching dance? What inspired you to teach and help kids grow and develop their passion?
Shireen: I started teaching dance when I was 16 years old, but I really got into it about 4 years ago. Just 2 years ago I started to realize my impact on the community and it uplifted me in ways I never felt. As a dancer, you have to teach at some point. It helps develop your style and as a Hip-Hop dancer, you HAVE to get out in the community and give back to the youth. Back in the day, thats where it all came, the kids and the community so, it only makes sense to give back.
Xiomara: How has dance created and morphed you into the person you are today?
Shireen: It's a language I was born with. From before I can remember I've always been obsessed with sound. Music was always stuck in my head. So when I discovered the other half of music, which is movement, it literally saved my life. I wasn't always doing great in school, nor getting along with my family, and I was such a loser growing up, like that ONE kid everyone always made fun of. So when my mom realized I was glued to the TV recording the Fly Girls and J.Lo videos (before I even knew she was even a Fly Girl), she decided to give me incentives to earn dance classes. It calmed my emotions down a lot, because I was always really emotional and sad, so dancing made me really happy and less worried all the time. It gave me a reason to do well in school. Dance is guided and still guides my life journey. Dance is what I love and a Dancer is what I am, naturally. No need to be in the industry and take it so seriously. I find the same level of joy just teaching and directing performances. So, my life is guided by the dance, its what keeps me happy. I'm now in NYC because the Mecca of Vogue is out here. So here I am, evolving into the best Vogue dancer I can be. And as a day job, I work with youth in the performing arts.
Xiomara: Describe your style...who and what influence it?
Shireen: My clothing style? Fly Girl.... The Fly Girls ....and my Grandmother. Also, DJ UFO from Killer Dude! camp. They're a really awesome band from The Bay, but are now in NYC. I appreciate their style because its THEIR style, it doesn't look like anyone else but them. I'm inspired by people that know how to showcase their personality/individuality with what they wear.
Some others I'm inspired by:
- Mara Hruby & the Street Etiquette Collective from BK
- Kateri - Female Producer
- MISSY ELLIOTT - the illest of all time because she's SO out the box
- Jocquese Whitfield - Vogue Instructor from San Francisco
- Pat Cruz of The Company
Xiomara: What are you next moves in your career in dance and motivating youngsters?
Shireen: I'm now in NYC working for an Organization called Hip-Hop 4 Life. I'm a Youth Mentor and Teaching Artist working with a program called Shades of Beauty, a support group for middle and high school aged girls. I plan to work my way up with this organization in taking a lead as an Event Coordinator and Host for their major events as well as train their future teaching artists. For my future in Non-Profit work, I plan to establish my Youth Artist Collective, The Dopest Outsiders, into a 501c(3) and bring it back to the Bay Area when I'm all ready to settle down. Currently, the Dopest Outsiders is working alongside Mish Mash Boutique for their All-Ages edition of DamSF (Dance.Art.Music.Style.
Fashion) a community showcase that happens 3-4 times a year bringing together young artist from the community to showcase their talents in front of a live audience.
Xiomara: Favorite dance move?
Shireen: There is no such thing :)
Gotta love her! Inspiration, motivation, positivity, passion, style, music, dance...Shireen Rahimi is all of that!