Inyoung ‘Dassy’ Lee is one of the most recognizable talents on the street dancing scene. The Red Bull dancer, who appeared on Season 14 of So You Think You Can Dance, has garnered a loyal following on social media, and travels around the world both teaching and performing. She sat down for an exclusive interview with HollywoodLife at the Red Bull Dance Your Style qualifier in Boston, revealing how her confidence has grown over the years. “When I was starting dancing in South Korea, I was dressing up like a man,” she said.
“I was wearing all the big clothes because I felt like that was what I had to do. [Street] dance is such a male dominated style and culture because it came from [men] battling each other. I had a lot of male teachers so I was trying to wear exactly what they did. I thought that was the way to get respected.” After moving to the United States at the age of 21, Dassy said she began “embracing” her body.
“I started to wear more fitted clothes … but I noticed that people were talking about it. The pumping dance style is very masculine,” she added, noting that others seemingly took issue with her new wardrobe. “My dance didn’t change at all. I literally just changed my clothes.” Dassy said comments about her appearance only fueled her, and she now choreographs “more feminine” routines that help her dancers feel “empowered” in their bodies. “We’re just us, why do we need to hide that?” she said.
When it comes to freestyle and street dance, Dassy cited strong musicality as one of the most essential skills. “Musicality and the energy you bring to the floor,” she said. “Also having a strong character and personality as a dancer is really important for freestyle.” As for choreographing in the moment, preparing for a battle can be tricky. “We don’t know what music is going to play [so] I try to train every day so that I can be prepared for any moment. But during a battle, I try not to think too much. If I do, I get in my head … so I try to just empty my mind.”
Her fellow Red Bull dancer Angela ‘Angyil’ McNeal also revealed it was difficult breaking into a traditionally male-dominated space. “It was [mentally] tough in the beginning, but I never really thought about it,” she said. “There are times when a man might feel intimidated or get jealous, especially when they feel like ‘this woman is climbing higher than me’.”
Angyil is certainly climbing high, having proved she’s a pro at multiple styles, from ballet to hip hop and everything in between. “There’s always going to be trending stuff for a moment, but this is forever,” she said of the importance of dance. “No matter who you are, what your career path is, everyone loves watching dance. So I think that it’s important for [dancers] to get even more respect, in this industry especially.”