"We're a generation waiting to be inspired..."
Daniel Browning is no stranger to the world of dance. A graduate of AMTC's SHINE, Daniel currently works as a full time hip- hop instructor and choreographer at Center Stage Dance Academy in Augusta, Georgia. He is the co-founder/ chief executive officer of Dance 2 Inspire, a non- profit dance convention that uses dance to reach a hurting generation and teach kids they have value beyond their performance. Keeping Christ at the center of all he does, Daniel counts himself blessed to share his journey with thousands of young people as he travels the United States, performing and teaching kids and teens from all walks of life.
What is Dance 2 Inspire, and how did it get started?
Our theme for Dance 2 Inspire is, We are a generation waiting to be inspired. A lot of us as Americans are just like, I really don’t feel like doing anything. It takes something to get your butt up and do something. So we’re using dance as that tool to say, Hey. Let’s get up, let’s move. We use it to capture young people, and when we capture them, we’re able to say, Remember, there’s more to life than dance. So our goal is to build dancers, but our overall goal is to build better people.
When did you start dancing and why?
I was an athlete all my life, and dance was never really in the picture, except for fun. I remember my dad showed me a video when I was twenty years old, only about six years ago. He said, “You know, in a weird way, I kind of felt like this was the path that you were going to take.” And I was like, “Why?” And he showed me a video of me dancing in my car seat when I was a baby. It made us all laugh, and it was kind of funny to see things come full circle, because here I am as a dancer.
How has your relationship with Christ affected your career as a dancer and actor?
It controls it. I think that when I tried to do things on my own, nothing worked out; nothing was satisfying. I remember, before I went through AMTC I had gone through America’s Got Talent, I had done some other shows, and everything that I ever did, I always fell short. Or I didn’t get a callback, and I remember thinking, What am I doing wrong? But when I really put it into perspective, my relationship with Christ and what that means, it put in perspective what dance means. And dance means to me that it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about inspiring young people to be better. And the Lord has provided a platform for me to do that through dance. So my relationship with Christ has shaped my dance.
Your group, Dance 2 Inspire, won first place and became national champions this year at the 2015 Hall of Fame Dance Challenge.
We won the CSRE Has Got Talent Competition. We did win that. And then it was just me and another person from Dance to Inspire (his name is Chad)… we both teach at the studio as well, so it was us that went down and just kind of represented. But we went down and we won the National Championship with a duo routine.
What was that like for you, seeing your vision expand from its inception unto now?
Man, I’ve thought about that question before and it makes me so emotional, just realizing how far it’s come. It’s breathtaking to think about this idea that we had one day, and now, it’s a reality. I’ll never forget speaking with a co-worker who said, “If you died today, what ideas are going to die with you?” And that really changed my perspective. I went and told a friend, “Listen, I want to tell you about this idea (for Dance 2 Inspire) , and I want this to become a reality, because if I die tomorrow, I don’t want all these people that I dream to help never get that chance. So it’s just such a blessing to be able to grow Dance 2 Inspire to what it is, and only the Lord can put it to where it is, that’s for sure.
Not only do you dance, but you were also cast as a lead this year in a Harley Davidson commercial. Describe that experience.
The Harley Davidson commercial was interesting because I didn’t know how big it was going to be until I got the role as the main character. It was a father and son commercial where I was the son. Being able to walk on set, be respectful, and learn while I’m acting was very interesting. And to see myself on TV, I mean, I was in a bowling alley with some friends, and it came on every TV in the bowling alley, and I was like, “Uh, this is awkward” (laughs).
How has AMTC trained you to be a missionary in the field of media?
It’s trained me in more than just acting and dancing. Which is fun, because yes they have the people there to teach you all of that stuff, but I think the callback means you already know it. They’re just refining you. What they teach you is the behind the scenes. They teach you how to be an individual. They teach you how to be ready and prepared spiritually. And you don’t get that anywhere. On top of that, there are people who trust AMTC in the industry, and they won’t go anywhere else to sign talent. So you’re missing out on a lot by not giving AMTC a chance for whatever the reason is. You know, I’ve known quite a lot of people that went through, most of who were all nervous… some didn’t go through because of this and that, but I’m like, Listen. If you’re serious about this, this is where you need to go. They teach you what everyone else won’t teach you.
What are you’re plans for the future?
My goal is to establish the Dance 2 Inspire convention where it can become a tour. Where we can travel without having to pay anything and reach kids across the country. That’s my overall goal. I’ve already lived a couple of dreams recently with the performances I’ve gotten to do, but between that and having the opportunities to perform, that’s my main goal. If I get a big role in acting, that’s wonderful, and I will probably do that, but I’ve actually steered away a little bit from acting so I can focus on what I know best. I do have an agent who has helped me with the acting side of things as well as dance, so she’s keeping me updated and giving me auditions. But my dream is to turn Dance 2 Inspire into something like Monsters of Hip Hop, which is a very big group that has some of the best dancers in the country, in the world. They come and teach, and they have dancers featured from So You Think You Can Dance?- they do tours worldwide. Monsters of Hip Hop teaches the idea of being the best that you can be in dance. We want to teach dancers to be the best that they can be as a person. And that’s really what sets us apart (from other conventions).