Drew Alexander dancing with partner Cheryl Powe during their 1st Pl 2013 performance
Chatting for the first time in over a year, ChiStepper catches up with the Phenom, Drew Alexander for his most open and personal interview to date. Being so talented so young creates a number of challenges for the youngster. He has to figure out how to be respectful to his elders and create his own lane and legacy at the same time. Is he being so humble though, that he’s dimming his own light? You be the judge …
T. Pratt: Drew! What’s up man? We’re about to do a REAL interview.
Drew: A REAL interview!
T. Pratt: A REAL interview. I’m tired of these “How long you been Steppin?” interviews.
T. Pratt: Let’s start with the contest. This year you made history by becoming the very first Stepper to win in every major category. What was that like for you?
Drew: It was exciting. It was a goal that I created when I started Steppin. I wanted to let people know that I can do it all. Not just Out-of-Towners, not just New Skool, but I can do it all. And I’m having fun doing it all.
T. Pratt: Did you have that goal when you first started or did it sort of develop along the way?
Drew: Imma tell you, the goal started in 2009 when I danced with Tracy Bivens and I lost. After that I said, “I want to win every category.”
T. Pratt: Another thing that you did this year was pass Dre on the all-time wins list. Were you aware of that?
Drew: I was not.
T. Pratt: When you think about moving past someone as iconic as Dre has been in Steppin contests, what do you think about that?
Drew: Wow! That’s awesome. That’s sweet. That’s ridiculous all at the same time. It really happened. I don’t really look at it as a big thing. I’m just working hard doing what I love to do and if along the way some of these accolades come in the process then I’ll take ‘em, but it just happens like that I guess.
T. Pratt: And just so you know, there are only two people still ahead of you and that is Tyk Myn and Maurice Turner, and you are right on Maurice’s heals. Tyk Myn has a little distance. So let me ask this … Seeing that you are so young and you’ve accomplished so much, who is inspiring you now?
T. Pratt: If anybody.
Drew: You. (Laughing) To be honest. You are one of the people that’s inspiring me. I love your style and how you flow is ridiculous. Every time you hit the floor I see you. Even if I’m on the dance floor with you, I see you. Of course, Tyk Myn. I’m still watching him. Watching videos. Trying to get to Chicago so I can see him. But lately a lot of my inspiration is coming from the old skool. Watching a lot of the women, and even the guys. Looking at the slow boppers and looking at the dance for what is was back then. Not just the top names and the people that travel a lot, but the people that don’t travel a lot. You don’t get to see Dimples a lot or Leanna. That’s what I need to see because that’s the most powerful part of the dance.
T. Pratt: What percentage of your style and the way you developed is raw talent and what percentage is hard work?
Drew: It’s all hardwork. I put a lot of time and effort into this because being from a dancing background already, it’s just a matter of me putting it to work. I can’t really put it percentagewise because dancing is in my blood. My family is full of dancers and I was always around dancers. So me learning to Step is just something else to do to put what I already have to work in another pattern. As far as raw talent, I believe that God gave me a gift and I’ve been able to use it. But it’s all hard work from beginning to end.
T. Pratt: How many hours a week would you say that you put into the dance?
Drew: Oh boy. As many hours as there are in a day added up into a week. I would say that’s about how much. (Laughing) Nah, but I dance every day. I’ve danced every day since I was 7 years old. If I’m able to just sit there and do nothing, I dance and watch TV. I can be at the movies and I stand up, I’ll dance their too. I’m always dancing. Always.
T. Pratt: I’m glad to hear you say that Drew. Cause I get teased. I might be pushing a grocery cart in a store and I’ll be footworking holding the bars of the cart. (Laughing)
Drew: Yep. I do that too. Definitely.
T. Pratt: I’m glad to know I’m not alone.
Drew: It’s funny because I was watching a video with Ed of Steppin Lil Gerald and he was doing some footwork on the dresser. Sometimes I’ll dance holding my dresser. I was in the bank the other day dancing in line and the bank teller said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m sorry, I’m Steppin.” (Laughing)
T. Pratt: Do you feel you get the credit you deserve from female Steppers like Charnice or Darlinda?
Drew: Well (pauses) it’s funny. It’s funny because I feel like I get it from more of the older crowd. The more old skool. Not that I’m really trying to please anybody. I noticed from Darlinda, she came to me and said, “You did the damn thang.” When I did my trio in 2010 she was one of the first people to come over to me, hold my hands and said, “That was the sweetest thing [I’ve seen].” I was like thank you. I remember the first time I danced with Darlinda, she said, “Where did you learn how to do that, that’s like some old skool stuff. That’s some freestyle stuff.“ I said, “I got it from watching you.” Charnice … if it was somebody I wanted to please, Charnice I would say would be one of the hardest to please you know. Not so much my dancing ability, you know, she just feels that I need to pay my dues. You got a lot of people who are stuck in the tradition of you having to pay your dues. And you [got people who say] you got talent and you have arrived. Not that I’m trying to say I’ve arrived, but I’ve heard many people say, “You got it.” Then I’ve heard some people say, “You’ve got some way to go.” So either way I take what people say and use it to push myself. So if people say I got it, I want to get it more. I’m never happy with my dance … I’m satisfied if that sounds right, but I’m never happy because I want to keep moving. I want to become better at every standpoint. But I’m satisfied that I can give a woman a good dance. I can dance with one woman old skool and one woman new skool and it’s not the same dance.
T. Pratt: Let me ask you a question, straight up and down. Are you as good a Walker as Magic Mike? You’ve won the Walkers contest 3 times now. He beat you, but are you as good a Walker as Magic Mike in your opinion?
Drew: In my mind, honestly. Well, for one, when it comes to contests it’s anybody’s night. As far as a person’s skill level in that dance in a particular setting, I don’t feel that I’m a better Walker than Magic Mike. I still have a lot of controlling … I need to learn how to control a little bit better. Mike got that down pat. Now as far as the night was concerned, a lot of people said I beat Mike. My whole thing was that I was honored to be on the floor with him, let alone for it to be said that I technically beat him. So that was an honor to me.
T. Pratt: But let’s be honest. Okay, you gave him his props, but you feel like you won, right?
Drew: I feel like I gave a good Walk. I felt like me and Sharon did the damn thang. I felt strong about my Walk.
T. Pratt: Okay! I’m going to come back to this point. I have an equally difficult question for you. Are you as good as Tyk, Dre, and Westside Mike Steppin wise?
Drew: Ahh, it all depends on what you’re asking. Each one of them has a different quality in the dance that makes them who they are. If I had to say, I’d say I have a little bit of each one of them that I try to bring out. If I was going against Mike, to be honest his footwork is ridiculous but his turns don’t match.
T. Pratt: Right.
Drew: And nothing against that, his dance is sweet, but as far as his turns compared to his footwork, his turns don’t match. Dre got a lot of turns, a lot of spins, but you know how his dance is gone be. It’s very rare that you see Dre smooth it out. Dre go … and when Dre go, Dre go! He never really smooth’s it out without doing so much. Tyk is a hybrid Stepper. He can go back and forth. He got the turns and he got the footwork. As far as me being a better dancer, I don’t feel I’m a better dancer, it’s a lot of stuff …
T. Pratt: (Cutting In) … I said are you as good as them?
Drew: Am I as good? Ummm … I think I can roll.
T. Pratt: But are you as good as them? This is what I’m trying to get to. Steppin is an industry that is built on respect, so we always pay homage to our elders in the dance and I know you don’t want to disrespect them. At the same time, when you’re too humble you can dim your own light. I’m sure it’s better for others to say it than for you to say it yourself, but I’m sure if I ask LeBron James or Floyd Mayweather Jr. who is dominating his generation, if he feels he’s as good as Sugar Ray Leonard, he’s going to say, “Shit yeah I’m as good as Sugar Ray Leonard.” I respect Sugar Ray and l learned from him, but I’m as good as him. Why can’t we say that in Steppin if you do believe that it’s true?
Drew: Well that’s the thing. You have to, for one, believe that that’s true. I believe there’s always someone better. There’s always someone that has a little more knowledge. And when it comes to, for instance, Tyk … he got me on a lot. Now, I would say, as far as if I had to compete with him, I think me and him would go toe to toe. I think that would be a good battle. I think in the near future I can be as good as Tyk. As far as Dre and Mike are concerned, because of the difference in their dances, as far as one is weaker in this and one is stronger in that, I think I have more of a level playing ground and I can be as good as them.
PART 2 OF DREW’S NO-HOLD’S-BARRED INTERVIEW GET’S EVEN MORE PERSONAL … STAY TUNED !