“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” — Joyce Meyer
This past Sunday, July 27th, EBCRuckerPark and LineRocket Entertainment brought Harlem to Prospect Heights, Barclays Center, in the infamous EBC America Celebrity Backetball Challenge (hosted by Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club). The Entertainer’s Basketball Classic (EBC) has been around since the 80s and it is one of the world’s largest streetball tournaments. The basketball tournament is known for having many celebrity guest appearances, nick-naming the participating basketball players with funny Hip-Hop culture references and for bringing people together.
As someone that lives in Harlem, I have always heard about this tournament, since I was in middle-school but, never attended the event. My awesome cousin, Maria, won two tickets courtesy of, “Ashley Outrageous,” and passing up on this opportunity was not an option!
The event was set to start at 4:00PM but, in true CP-Time the event actually started at 6:30PM. While the audience waited for the competition to start the audience was being amused by young performers that go by the name, “Kings of the Dance-Floor.” While the dances were really cute and this organization most-likely keeps these children from engaging in activities that are not condusive to their growth.. some of the dance moves were a little too mature. But, still cute and well-deserving of praise. After that, the tournament was not ready to start so, the hosts suggested a twerk-off contest.
He asked the ladies in the audience if anyone wanted to participate and two brave women took turns gracing the Barclays arena with their assets. Although it was odd that anyone would volunteer themselves to shake what their momma gave them in front of thousands of people, for fun, it was quite entertaining.. and, for a second it took everyone’s mind off of the fact that they were running late!
Elle Varner, sang the national anthem. The players were finally ready and the competition started! It was a slow start, with each side (NY vs. LA) consecutively missing shots but, the energy started picking up after the third quarter. Big Sean made the first performance appearance and he sang some of his hits but, it was evident that his break-up with Naya Rivera hit him hard as he changed the lyrics to his verse in, “All Me,” from, “my new girl is on Glee,” .. to, “my old girl is on Glee.”
After the Big Sean performance, Maria and I decided to take a trip to the very exclusive Press Room/Interview Room, courtesy of my friend Dennis Gonzalez (thank you again for letting me charge my phone)! I stood next to Busta Ryhmes and watched the interviews take place with Jadakiss, LL Cool J, Fabolous, French Montana, DJ Clue, Troy Ave and more. They discuss how the EBC games have impacted their lives and influenced their careers. They also spoke on the status of Hip-Hop/Rap today. It was truly amazing to hear these rappers talk about how important it is to support community events and leave inspiration with every-one.
The DMV team, represented by Wale, ended up winning the basketball tournament. It was a fun event, it was different and I am glad I finally got to experience such a classic and historical event. And, to make my night even better, Elliot Wilson gave me a shout-out on his social media pages and, I got to take a follow-up selfie with Khloe Kardashian’s beau, French Montana. We took one last summer at SUPPER CLUB in Hollywood so, I thought it’d be fun to make it a yearly tradition. (Note: He is a really tall man, I keep cropping his forehead out of the picture.. sorry for that):
French Montana and I at the EBC America Celebrity Basketball Challenge, Summer, 2014
French Montana and I at SUPPER CLUB: Hollywood, Summer 2013
**Also, in attendance: Teyana Taylor, Joey Ba$$, Stalley, Kendrick Lamar, Maino
On Saturday, June 21st, 2014, I stepped on stage for the very first time since graduating from my Alma Mater, Syracuse University. While at Syracuse University, I was very much involved in the school’s only Caribbean dance organization: Kalabash Dance Troupe. I never really considered myself a dancer but, it was a fun hobby I enjoyed as an undergraduate student and a great way to stay fit (as well as make good friends).
Syracuse University – Homecoming Show, 2009
I have a bucket-list and, on that list enrolling in a dance class was top priorirty. After two years of saying that I was going to join a dance class, I finally did it. I signed up for the Alvin Ailey Extension program which is opened to the public, meaning you can have over twenty years of experience as a professional dancer or be a beginner that wants to try something new. The program is truly amazing because it is inclusive and allows you to explore and learn about how other cultures communicate through the art of dance. It is a fantastic way to preserve the legacy of Alvin Ailey.
There were so many awesome classes to choose from but my heart immediatley navigated towards the Afro-Brazilian and Samba course taught by the fabulous Quenia Ribeiro. For me, taking this course would be a chance to re-kindle the flame I had with the country of Brazil. As an undergraduate, I was given the opportunity by the Chancellor of the University at the time, Ms. Nancy Cantor, to visit Rio De Janeiro as a part of an anthropology course offered by the university. While I learned a lot about the history and religious aspect of Brazil, I really did not get to learn about the art and dance that makes the country so distinct and admired.
This eight-week workshop, that concluded on my birthday, was really life-changing and life-enhancing. Taking this class taught me so much and my instructor’s eclectic energy definitely rubbed off on me. There was so much that I learned from this experience and I want to share seven valuable lessons with you, that I will never forget:
BEING SEXY IS ALL IN YOUR MIND
Brazilians are known world-wide to be one of the sexiest people on the planet. It is easy to assume that they are just born sexy but, no that is not what my instructor taught me. Being sexy is all in the mind, if you think you are sexy you will be sexy. Think sexy thoughts, embrace all you have to work with and do not let anyone tell you otherwise; you are the sexiest person alive baby!
MAKING FRIENDS AS AN ADULT IS NOT THAT HARD
When I first joined the class, I didn’t know that many of my peers already had previous experience in the Alvin Ailey school or had joined the class with a friend. At first I thought, darn.. I should have asked my cousin to join the class with me but, as time progressed I was happy I signed up by myself. If I had someone I knew take the class with me I would have never been able to step out of my comfort zone. Honestly, sometimes the best things in life are accomplished by stepping out of your comfort zone. When I started feeling lost, I asked Christine (she’s on the right in the picture above this paragragh) for help. She took an extra day out of her schedule to break down some of the choreography for me and from then on we decided that we were going to be friends forever (and, we are even planning to take a trip to Brazil next February – yup, for CARNIVAL). The age range and backgrounds in the class varied but, nobody really cared about that… we cared about learning from each other and putting on an amazing show!
PEOPLE LIKE BEING AROUND POSITIVE ENERGY, IT’S CONTAGIOUS
One thing I always looked forward to when going to class was seeing my instructor’s smile. I never saw her frown or be upset. Her aura shined so bright and it made me realized that I should channel that same kind of energy, after all nobody wants to be around a negative nancy. Her energy really affected all of us and, you could tell because after one of our performances we Samba’d our way in front of the Alvin Ailey Dance center and continued our show, immediately all the pedestrians and cars in the streets stopped what they were doing and engaged in our energy. It was amazing and I’m sure we made someone’s day. That is the kind of person I want to be, I want to be just like my instructor and make someone’s day every day.
FAMILY ALWAYS COMES FIRST, ALWAYS
When the tickets became available I let all of my social networks and friends know about my performance. While I did mention to everyone that, “it wasn’t that serious,” my family members were the first to be super persistent and purchase their tickets with urgency. I did not even have to ask twice. For me performing in this show was a personal accomplishment but, that is the thing about family – especially a good family – every accomplishment big or small.. is always huge and deserves to be celebrated. I am so grateful and blessed that I was born into a family that always encourages me to pursue my goals and shows me with every action that they do that they will always support me, no matter how serious it is.
Performing in the Alvin Ailey Citigroup theater was an amazing experience and, I will definitely be participating in this performance workshop again next year. In every day, in every experience, in every person there is always a lesson to be learned and knowledge to be gained. I encourage you to try something that you have never done, to fulfill something on your bucket-list, to step out of your comfort zone.. not for anyone else but, for yourself. I guarantee something beautiful will come out of that.
Thank you to Quenia Ribeiro for this experience and thank you to her live drummers, Grupo Ribeiro, you all took me to a different world and I appreciate everything you have done for me. Beijos! XO
Leslie Grace is a Latin GRAMMY nominated artist and I had the pleasure of interviewing her for the UPTOWN GIRLS NYC blog. Read about my experience at the, “Gain’s “Scents-sational” #MusicToYourNose NY Laundromat Take-Over,” event and check out the interview:
What is the best way to spend your Friday afternoon? With Leslie Grace and Gain, of course! Uptown Girls NYC had the pleasure of attending the “Gain’s “Scents-sational” #MusicToYourNose NY Laundromat Take-Over,” last week. The weather was exactly what you’d expect for a day to wash three loads of laundry and, the music playing in the background went along perfectly; seriously, great planning! We walked into the laundromat and surprisingly found vivacious interior decor that stimulated our eyes and spoke to our inner youth, we were amazed. And, you know, we couldn’t keep our hands off of the washing machines, dryers and the adorable (sweet-smelling) Gain Flings, thinking, “we’d definitely do laundry here any day!”
The featured artwork was created by children in the local Bronx neighborhood and, was used as the setting where Leslie Grace answered questions in regards to her experience growing up in the Bronx, her career goals, the importance of having a support system and more. VIP treated us well and we were able to get a few minutes of Grace’s time before she went on stage to perform for community. And, what did we learn while conducting this interview?
Thanks to Leslie Grace and Gain, our Friday afternoon was very well spent and super inspiring. The kids really did a wonderful job with the artwork, it was so good that we couldn’t resist entering four submissions to the #MusicToYourNose selfie contest. If you have the opportunity you should stop by one of the locations that have been taken over by Gain, the art will be on display until June 6th. Uptown Girls NYC supports people and organizations uplifting the uptown community, let’s keep up the good work!
This is part of a sponsored activation with Gain. However, all opinions expressed are my own.