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'Beat ya feet' to keep kids off the streets: DC dancer inspiring his community

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 6 days ago Jess Arnold
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For some kids in the DMV, dance is their lifeline.

Amidst violence, poverty, and drugs, "beat ya feet" in particular has helped a lot of young people find their way--notably, a dancer who goes by "Crazy Legz."

Crazy Legz, or John Pearson, said this D.C. dance form helped put him on a path he wouldn't have dreamed of growing up in Southeast.

"I look at it as kind of it helped save my life," Pearson said. "I’m from southeast, so, you know, it has a lot of violence. I could have easily made bad decisions…so beat your feet was my outlet to have a different route."

He said it was born out of go-go music in the early 2000s by a man he called "Slush."

As its popularity "spread like a virus," he jumped on board to help expand it throughout the community -- and the world.

RELATED: DC dancer teaches ‘beat your feet’ style in Poland

Recently, he decided to host free public sessions at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington to make sure his own community keeps the art form alive.

"Whenever I have some problems, when I dance, they automatically go away, and I feel like dance is the best sacred space for me," Riyan Ware, a 12 year old who lives in Oxon Hill, said. "That teaches me how to handle things better and go through life."

Ware said she has attended every session.

Someone else who hasn't missed a beat is 28-year-old Deonte Callaham. He grew up in Southeast and said he's been dancing for as long as he can remember.

"I think it is very important, just because it's bringing a lot of older people and younger people together to help each other, and all be in a safe environment," Callaham said. "You don't have to worry about no craziness going on or anything. There also is a whole lot of love here."

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Love and unity: that's the message this dancer is trying to spread.

"It’s just part of D.C. culture," Pearson said. "And we're just trying to keep it going."

RELATED: From behind bars to spitting bars: DC man turns life around through music

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