By Chesnie Wardell
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit milwaukeenns.org.
A Milwaukee dance coach is using his passion to lead a youth dance team, all part of his plan to give back to the community.
Christopher “Ineque” Cooper, 19, formed the Ineque Dance Team in June, with the hope of building up his dancers in their own journey.
“I’m not going to leave them as just dancers. I’m working them up to be paid dancers one day,” said Cooper, who graduated from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts.
To form the multi-genre team, Cooper promoted it at Milwaukee hotspots such as Mayfair Mall and beaches.
Cooper works with children from the North Side to teach teamwork and leadership. And he maintains a photography and clothing brand business as well.
“Ineque is more than just a brand, dance team and a photography business,” Cooper said.
Cooper discovered Leah and Legacy Lewis, 11, after spotting them one day doing TikTok videos outside.
“While being on the team, I learned how to do a back handspring and back walkovers,” Legacy said.
Though they have since left the team, they said nothing beats the excitement of traveling to do performances. Leah said, “We can travel the state for competitions and just have fun.”
The team’s last performance was in September at a Milwaukee seafood restaurant called Red Crab – Juicy Seafood. His team was the first to hold a dance event at the restaurant, Cooper said.
“I look for potential in the new dancers, so I try to make sure all dancers that apply can become a part of the team. I can embed progression and improvement in their journey, “ Cooper said.
So how does one join the team?
The applications are for experienced and non-experienced dancers ages 7 to 17 years old. Other positions such as photographer, coaches and more are available for adults and teens who want to be a helping hand for the team.
At the tryouts, Cooper allows his current dancers to teach the new dancers an eight-count routine while he oversees them. After 30 minutes, Cooper determines who makes the cuts.