Local choreographer helps kids build confidence, dance away from screentime

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Derek Turner is an accomplished dancer with the Corpus Christi Ballet. He wants Coastal Bend kids to know there is a bigger world out there beyond phone screens.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Derek Turner is a local choreographer at the House of Hip Hop, a dance studio offering hip hop dance classes to the Coastal Bend, including kids as young as three-years-old. Derek attended college with the studio owner Sammy Flores and taught Lucy Garcia, the co-director, when she was 14 years old. 

“They were like hey man we need some people for hip hop.  I am hip hop! Let’s get this going. So, as soon as they told me they were opening a studio, this is what we need. The kids need this, Corpus needs this.”

Derek has been a professional dancer since 2002. He dances for the Corpus Christi Ballet and travels all over the state of Texas, choreographing for weddings and Quinceanera’s. 

According to Zippia, the most common ethnicity among choreographers is White- making up 44.4% of the dance professionals. Only 5.5% are Black or African American. 

Turner says it’s important for kids to have an outlet other than relying on screentime for entertainment and social interaction. 

“I want them to know there is a bigger world out there than just their phone or their iPad,” said the dance instructor. “There’s an actual world you can see and touch and be around if you would put your phone down for a second.”

According to the Journal of Pediatrics, children reportedly engaged in just under four hours of screen time per day. 

On average, Black children reported 1.58 more hours of screen time per day, compared with White children. 

The effects of screen time on health in children and adolescents show that technology overuse predicts health and behavioral problems including depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and physical inactivity.

Derek Turner says that his dance classes offer kids a break from having to depend on screens. 

“There’s a difference when there is human connection when someone else is in the room with you, your friends, your teacher. Everyone is hyping each other up, you feel the music, you feel the beat. I’s a different energy when you are all in a room together, especially for a dance. Physically, you can get more exercise that way.”

Aaliyah Clay is one of Turner’s students. She says that when it comes to choosing between watching TV and being on her phone or on her iPad or being in one of the dance classes, it’s a simple choice. 

“I would rather come to the House of Hip Hop,” says the young dancer. 

In addition to the social and emotional benefits, dancing is also an enjoyable approach to fitness. 

Turner says that, because dancing is so much fun, you may forget you are even exercising. 

“We are going to make sure you are having a good time We’re going to make sure we take whatever you have and make sure the world sees you through dance form.”

If you are interested in dancing your way to fitness but worried you have two left feet, do not worry- it’s all about confidence.

“As long as you have confidence in yourself that’s it. Because if you don’t have confidence in yourself no one else will. So show up, be yourself and the world will follow suit.”

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