Springfield’s Xclusive Dance Crew wants to changes lives through dance.
The group got its start as original members LaJuan Lane and Jacquan Brewton met as members of Project Jericho.
“We were involved in Project Jericho’s advanced hip-hop class and as we got older, we decided to branch out and form our group,” Brewton said.
Brewton and Lane both got their passion for dance at an early age. Brewton started by becoming involved with his church’s spiritual dancing group. Lane started in the same fashion, but he remembers the dance bug bit him earlier in life.
“My earliest memory was dancing in the grandfather’s living room, trying to nail down Michael Jackson’s ‘Remember the Time’ dance routine,” Lane said.
LaJuan has an even deeper connection with dance, as he used dance to recover from a significant car crash.
“The doctors told him he would be limited in his movements for the remainder of his life,” said Torray Lanier, LaJuan’s mother. “But that did not stop him. He was in a body cast, but would get up and still practice dancing. He’s overcame every hurdle and it was all because of dance.”
Xclusive Dance Crew started as a hip-hop group, but has expanded their dance arsenal by performing in various genres, including ballet, jazz, liturgical and praise dance.
The crew has performed at multiple Springfield festivals and events in the past couple years, including the Harlem Globetrotters halftime show, Shirley Murdock and Springfield native John Legend.
Lane not only wants to project a level of positivity throughout Springfield, he wants to destroy negative stereotypes that surround young men of color.
“When the group was created we wanted to show young black men doing something positive for the city,” he said.
The group has pushed that same message to young black women as the group added women.
Xclusive plans to stay in their spirit-led roots and won’t perform to any music that shows negativity toward any group, especially African-Americans and women.
The group consists of Lane and Brewton, along with Shykela Burton, Deserae Johnson, Tyreese Kerby and Kendra Eckler.
Lane and Brewton are transitioning into more of a teaching and managing role with the dancers as they recruit new members in hopes of expanding.
“This is more than dancing,” Brewton said. “It’s not what we do, it’s who we are. This group has changed me and made me a better leader and individual.”
Project Jericho continues to be a huge support for them, helping with securing dancing gigs, assisting with marketing and giving them career and life advice. The Springfield YMCA provides practice space and the dancers also practice on City Hall Plaza during the week so that the community can watch.