Having known Jesse Sykes, better known as Crank, for the last few years I can tell you the dude has become an instant OG for Utah. Not only is he supportive of many different events, organizations, and styles but he gets down in multiple dance styles. When I first met him it seemed his training was more popping than anything else but through out the years he’s matured in his dance to add locking, krumping, even elements of breaking, and contemporary.
Aside from being an incredible dancer and artist, Jesse Sykes can be seen supporting many different events, classes, and other dancers. Behind the scenes, Sykes works a full-time job, teaching class, and hosting an open session 2-3 times a week without wanting any type of recognition. Yep we seen this dude traveling out of state to not only grow himself, but to represent Utah on the All Styles tip.
As you will see the all styles scene he’s come to know and love currently resides in a transition period and he is doing the very best to keep it alive by pushing others to grow!
Jesse is just one reason why dancers should visit Utah if they have the chance. The scene has come a long way uniting with each other. What has been a primarily breaking scene has grown into a number of various styles and choreography scene working and pushing each other. From Bboy Fed to Millenium Dance SLC, FunKeys to many different colleges around Utah and so many others blessing the community.
You could say the dancers all see each other as equal and want to help one another grow and represent Utah! And having grown my friendship with Jesse and many others in Utah for years, its clear to me there needed to be more voice given to Jesse and others.
Tell us about your roots where you grew up with music and dance
Growing up I was in an Air Force family, which meant I was bound to my surroundings for 2-3 years at a time if I was lucky. I never had the opportunity to grow with a scene/community. I always was forced to stay introverted due to that, which is why music and dance saved me. I always was listening to music, or trying to seek it out in the world. I didn’t know how to dance I just knew I enjoyed grooving, it just felt right. Most children grow up in one area and have friends who have common interests and that’s the one thing I lacked. I had no friends until I moved to Utah.
At what point did you start to take more serious? Were there any mentors or influential dancers you watched?
The moment that I moved to Utah, I met a few key individuals that saw what I had to share and wanted me to blossom. One of those individuals, Micah Clark(Cirque du Soleil), always pushed me to keep doing it, I still wasn’t even considered a member of the scene and he just accepted me regardless. I played sports when I got into High School and didn’t believe the art of dance could take me any where. I slowly faded from the scene until I graduated.
At the time of graduation I had the choice to continue on with my education and sports, or do something different. I chose the less traveled path and took dance back into my life at the age of 18. I made a promise to myself to push and train harder then ever and break the stereotypical outlook on street dancing, and show people the love, culture, and unity it provided.
Tell us about where the Utah scene, how its grown?
The Utah scene is at a very frustrating stage as far as all styles go. The breakers have been around for so long and have a solid schematic laid out, yet the all-styles scene is lacking in that department. We have become lazy, stagnant if you will. It’s crazy to see now only a handful of Utah’s dancers actually want to travel, train, and grow. With the help of key role players in the scene ultimately we want to provide the scene life once again. Push one another and grow as whole, not just as parts.
What projects are you working on?
Currently I am in a SLC based crew called Boogietechz. We are focused on bringing the Popping community specifically back to life. We offer multiple sessions weekly, that are absolutely free, for dancers to come out who are seeking the knowledge, lifestyle, and foundations of the style. I also teach at various studios, one of those being Millennium Dance Complex. My ultimate goal is to bring the true essence of Hip Hop and provide a better understanding of the culture through the teaching I provide.
What are your goals with dance for the future?
I would love to be able to travel and dance with people from all over the world.
What’s one difficult moment in your dance career and what motivated you to keep going?
The first time I traveled out of state, which was to Arizona for a battle. I was extremely egotistical and ended up getting smoked in the semi-finals. This set me back big time, I was so excited to travel but took that loss so harshly. I didn’t let it humble me, for almost a year I wouldn’t enter any jams. I eventually learned it was a trail by fire type deal. You have to constantly put in work, because if you’re not someone guaranteed is somewhere else. I’ve had a really tough training regimen for years now and it pays off, you have to push yourself!
If you died on the dance floor, what song would you go out too?
Blood on the dance floor- Michael Jackson that’s my jam.
Any shout outs
I would like to shout out Step X Step for doing this interview, and always showing love to the community world wide. To my crew mates and to all the dancers I have met/yet to meet!