2018 Grantee Profile: Ryan Dela Cruz
Toronto Krump and Hip Hop Dance Mentorship Program
Funded by ArtReach in 2014, 2015, and 2018, Ryan Dela Cruz and the BUCC N FLVR team are a collective from Toronto who utilize dance to engage intergenerational dialogue and build the learning capacity of youth. Spearheaded by lead facilitator Ryan Dela Cruz, from Summer 2018 to Spring 2020, BUCC N FLVR delivered their Toronto Krump and Hip Hop Dance Mentorship program. The program, serving up to 40 youth participants from the Kennedy-Eglinton Scarborough community, was built around the focus of artist-to-artist development and mental and physical capacity building. They created platforms to feature their artists by booking local and provincial performances, creating high-quality film reels, and executing a final performance to the public.
This by-youth, for-youth program was created to be accessible to marginalized youth who face financial barriers to accessing professional dance classes, as well as to provide work opportunities to young dance professionals. Alongside weekly classes led by a diverse group of youth facilitators, the program provided workshops and presentations, further educating and preparing youth artists for future events while building their careers and connections.
The program also provided youth participants with a safe, open space to pursue their passion, even if they were facing challenges. As lead facilitator Ryan explains, “Participants who were facing mental health challenges were able to overcome things with help and support of facilitators. There were also some participants who had difficulty sharing their passion with their family, but this program was able to bridge the gap thanks to the program structure and the performative aspects''. The program concluded with a final showcase event at the Fairview Library Theatre with over 200 community members in attendance.
Opportunities for Youth
However the success of youth participants did not end at the final showcase event. Part of this program's goal was to ensure that participants were ready to take on new, exciting, and more advanced opportunities. Several youth participants are already excelling in their field as they continue to work on their craft and make a positive community impact.
As Ryan notes, “I am extremely proud of the successes of our youth participants. Over the years, I have seen these youth grow into young adults, some have taken these skills and transferred them to their new passions in dance, film, business, and education. Some have excelled past our teachers, and have started teaching more than our facilitators for reputable organizations and charities like UNITY Charity, OutsideLookingIN, and for various dance studios from Toronto to Hamilton and Niagara”.
Three participants are now full time dance teachers, eight youth were featured on CBCart, lead facilitator Ryan was featured on “Street Voices”, and all participants were involved with supporting Ryan’s resident grant with the Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Arts Council.
Ryan Dela Cruz is a Toronto-based artist, educator, and community changemaker. Since performing in Miss Saigon at the Princess of Wales Theatre at age five, acting and dance have been two of Ryan’s greatest passions. Since then, Ryan has come to represent the Krump scene on a local, national, and international level, teaching, performing, and competing acrs North America, Europe, and Asia.
As Program Coordinator for the award-winning dance collective BUCC N FLVR since 2009, Ryan and his team have been able to use art to engage youth by teaching and sharing their passion of dance to students around the world for over a decade. Locally, they’ve taught and collaborated with Kapisanan, UNITY Charity, Manifesto, North York Arts, and VIBE Arts, and continue to work in Toronto’s underserved communities to inspire change and provide youth with the necessary tools to succeed.