It was a cloudy Seattle day in 2016. Dora Belme, creator of BalletPoppin’, arrived at ‘What’s Poppin’ Ladiez?! (WPL?!)’ — an event series celebrating female poppers. The competition was a 7tosmoke concept, meaning the first person to win seven rounds would win.
It required being able to freestyle for seven to ten rounds without repeating yourself. The battle lasted about 45 minutes, with Dora battling approximately 15-20 minutes constantly. In the final round, Dora and Inyoung ‘Dassy’ Lee were tied with six wins each. Dora knew Dassy was one of the best female poppers in the world, having recently proved her talent on Season 14 of ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’
Dora relied on her passion. “I went through a challenging period in my life, and dancing it out liberated me,” she said. “I was focused on leaving everything on the dance floor every single round. I wanted to win against myself, being the best I could be in that moment, not holding anything back.”
When the final round ended, Dora was the champion.
A short time later, in March of 2017, her unique style was coined by her friends as BalletPoppin’ because of the combination of popping with ballet technique.
“I didn’t intend to create a new style,” Dora explained. “BalletPoppin’ was and still is a movement and community of like-minded dancers.”
Dora didn’t begin dancing until her late teens, but within seven years she moved to Canada to pursue dance full-time and won several freestyle competitions in Europe and North America, including WPL?!. She worked extra hard, following hundreds of workshops across Europe in multiple styles including popping, hip-hop, house, contemporary, jazz and ballet.
Her goal with BalletPoppin’ was to give girls the confidence to freestyle and step out of their comfort zone to express themselves.
“I believe we, as female dancers, have an obligation to help other girls express their unique talents,” Dora said.
In addition to inspiring girls to freestyle and express what’s within, she wants to “build a community that supports unconditional love, support, and freedom — letting you be whoever you want to be.”
Dancing has proved to be Dora’s greatest path to self-discovery.
“I looked up to strong female dancers from Europe and North America who showed me that it’s ok to be myself,” Dora said. “I’m eternally grateful for their silent guidance in my quest of finding myself through dance. They advocated a level of authenticity that I dreamt of.”
And now, it’s a dream she calls life.
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