Debbie Allen has been involved with dancing her whole life, she was a dance teacher on Fame, she is also guest judge on “So You Think You Can Dance”, and is a choreographer as well. She has created a new program called T2 Dance Crew, not only to raise awareness for a disease known as type 2 diabetes but as well to give advice to sufferers and those prone to acquiring this terrible illness, as to how to manage this disease through exercising in the form of dance and diet.
Igarin Idarraga: First of all let me say that is an honor and a pleasure to speak with you, I have admired your work since the days of Fame.
Debbie Allen: Oh thank you, it’s been quite a journey for me all the way from Fame to now.
Igarin Idarraga: Ms. Allen, I have to ask, will you be in the finale of So You Think You Can Dance tonight?
Debbie Allen: Yes I am Igarin, I couldn’t do it this year because I have been directing, I directed Witches of East End and I just finished directing a new show Jane The Virgin and this is a great show for the Latin American community and it stars Gina Rodriguez and a lot of it is in subtitles, because a lot of it is in Spanish.
II: That is great, and what is T2 Dance Crew about?
DB: T2 Dance Crew is about people with diabetes in America and a condition that really can be managed, I mean once you have it, you have it, but it can be managed with diet and exercise. The idea behind T2 Dance Crew is for people with diabetes, or those challenged with the idea of it, if it is in the family’s gene pool to start exercising by dancing. The whole idea of T2 Dance Crew is to get people dancing as a form of exercise, dance is so popular nowadays, and it is much more fun than riding a bike, or go running by yourself is not much fun. The idea is to get people engaged in dancing with Janette Manrara and Fikshun who created some little routines that people can go online and learn and hopefully this will spark their interest and motivate them; this could start a whole trend. I started a salsa class, I have about 12 couples and we dance and we sweat, it is so much fun and then we eat, but we eat healthy food such as salads and ceviche, you know light things, the whole thing is to create an energetic and healthy community. Dance is life for me, it has saved me from many things, and there were so many challenges for me growing up in Texas. You know, my mother moved to Mexico that’s when I first started dancing, due to the racial divide made it impossible for me to take classes at a certain level so my mother moved to Mexico and there were no barriers I went to Bellas Artes every Sunday, I trained with the Ballet Nacional. And so I know what dance can do for the world, it did a lot for me, but also what it does for my family. My dad we lost much too early which really makes me want to call out loud for action and people need to pay attention and this is something that affects a large number of the Black and Hispanic American community, and hopefully the launch of this program will initiate a movement for a lot of our communities and households.
II: Yes I was reading on the illness and it is treatable through watching what you eat and exercise.
DB: Exactly and you know we have to look at that because we have a lot of traditional foods, and (laugh) I love fried chicken as much as the next person, but you can’t have that everyday, you can’t eat fried things every day it’s just not healthy. You certainly have to balance it out with your physical activity and dancing is the best salsa, hip-hop is the best.
II: Tango is one of the best dances in the world.
DB: Oh are you kidding, child please is the sexiest dance on the planet and you know what other dance is a lot of fun is Samba, I went down to Brasil, I was doing some work on television, but I was up until 3 in the morning every night at the Samba school dancing, those rhythms are so infectious and those drums I did not want to go home, so that is the goal if people can find that music that inspire them and just jump in there we could have a much healthier community all around. Women specially are paying attention because we are the ones that design the activities for the family and what we put on the table and so they are paying attention. You know obesity in our young people is at an all time high, you know the First Lady Michelle Obama has taken the time to address an issue that is of great importance to her in getting everyone to start working out, specially our young.
II: So Ms. Allen what is the actual website where people go to learn the routines that you and the dancers have created?
DB: Yes, you just have to go to www.t2dancecrew.com and you will see testimonials from me, from doctors, it is bilingual, it is in English and Spanish, you will have the dances that Fikshun and Janet created, but you just get a sense of how you gauge and get a sense that that one little step can make a difference for the rest of your life, I am encouraging everyone to take that first look.
II: Great Ms. Allen now talking about So You Think You Can Dance, who do you think is going to win?
DB: Now you know better that I know better than to predict (laugher) you can do it, you are not going to get it out of me all I can say is that we have two winners instead of one. It is down to the final four and any one of them is deserving of the title and it is just a matter of who is America’s favorite, because this is what this is, not always the best dancer that wins, is the favorite, the one you feel you want to invite to your home, the one you feel connected to, it is exciting we have two tap dancers and this speaks volumes of Nigel’s –Nigel Lythgoe producer and director on So You Think You Can Dance-, vision and the panel which always have encouraged tap dancers and dancers of all genres to come forward; I hope next year we have a Flamenco dancer, no one dances more beautiful than Flamenco. I think this show is amazing and I want to encourage everyone to tune in because we need big ratings because we want that network –Fox-, to keep this show on the air
II: The way I look at it, is who has the most fans that will tune in to vote.
DB: Yes we need to get people to vote instead of fussing and standing in the way, so I think "So You Think You Can Dance" is promoting democracy.
II: Ms Allen thank you so much for taking the time for this interview, I know you are busy lady, I wish the best of luck in everything you do and look forward to comments regarding this article.
DB: Oh thank you for the interview and for everything you do and I will make sure to follow your blog.
Thank you again Ms. Debbie Allen for taking the time to speak with me, and give us valuable information on a disease that plagues a large number of people in our country.