In Frame: Ryan Haskett

          This week's In Frame features a good friend of mine that's been very inspiring to me. His name is Ryan Haskett. I officially met Ryan about 2 years ago at a photographer meet up, but I've heard of him long before that. Ryan first came on my radar from a conversation with some friends. Someone mentioned there was white guy that jooks. I didnt believe them initially. Naturally, that peaked my interest because I had never heard of anyone jooking other than people that looked like myself.  If you're unfamiliar with jooking, it's a dance that originated in Memphis and takes quite a bit of talent to pull off. It's sort of hard to describe jooking without seeing it, so here's a video of Ryan dancing to better illustrate. 

Memphis dancer, Ryan Haskett, dancing at Exchange Building during grind City Meet 2017. Video recored by Michael B of Music by TWOINspeaks.

           Ryan is not only a dancer, but he also is a really good photographer and a DJ. He's a pretty  well rounded person that's really helping show the amazing creative talents that Memphis has to offer. I also loves how he has shown that regardless of race, we all should be able to showcase our talents. I got to interview Ryan to learn more about him other than being the white guy that jooks. 

We're gonna jump straight into it. A white jooker? It must be a gimmick. It can't be real. I'm sure you've heard that a lot. How did you get into jooking and dancing in general?

Haha yes indeed. My dance journey started when I was pretty young actually. My younger sisters were dancing at a studio in Germantown called Studio B. They had some boys hiphop classes and one day my mom signed me up to get me out of her hair while my sisters were dancing.
It instantly clicked with me from there haha. I’ve danced every day since then. I was 10 when I took my first class. The next year I made the Jr. Grizzlies dance team and started performing at the games, and the rest is history.
As for Jookin, I heard of Jookin first when I was around 10 from my friend Ian Clark, who’s actually playing for the Golden State Warriors right now in the NBA Finals. I saw it around a bit but didn’t fully start learning until I met Lil Buck & Dr. Rico in high school. I transitioned from the studio to the street when I was 18 and have been Jookin ever since.
I was the first white guy - it was awkward at first but it was important to me to push through to help improve race relations in the city. I felt like a lot of the Jookers had never met a white guy that they could relate to and now we are a very multicultural community with dancers of all ethnicities and backgrounds. I still get people that are blown away that a white guy can Jook today though haha.

I've seen you perform a few times and I've always been a fan. Who are some of the big names you've worked with?

Ah thank you so much. I’ve worked with a lot of artists in Memphis of course, local legends like the Bar-Kays and Justin Timberlake - and I’ve done a bit of work in the dance tv circuit with shows like So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. I have stayed local for the most part - that’s been awesome because I can say I’ve really performed in the city while I’ve been here. I should be in Los Angeles this year tho and have the opportunity to connect with some other artists.

Your trip to Canada looked really cool. What took you there and how was that experience?

Oh yes, that trip was amazing. I was flown out to Vancouver to perform and teach Jookin workshops in April. A few years back my crew and I connected with some dancers from there and one of them owns a studio called Street Kings. We have kept close contact over the years, they always said they were going to fly me out and after a few attempts this year my schedule finally worked out. Vancouver was amazing from every aspect - it’s a gorgeous city first of all. Secondly the people were amazing and so receptive of me. It was pretty humbling to be able to share Memphis culture with people in an entirely different country.

For someone that's rhythm challenged, do you have any dance tips for me?

First of all, you’ve got plenty of rhythm, we all do. My partners and I have studied this question deeply. Our hearts keep a steady beat, our lungs breathe at their own pace, and every thing we do has some sense of rhythm to it. The main thing with dance is simply learning to set your bodies rhythm to music. Just feel the beat!

Seeing how I know you personally, I know you have a hidden talent for photography. What other hidden talents do you have?

You do know me well haha. Outside of dance yes I am also into photography. I’m also a DJ - that keeps me very busy and is something I’m extremely passionate about. I’m currently learning every thing I can about music. I also am very into video/film and I love to write.

I know you're an extremely busy person. What are some of your "not so secret" upcoming projects you have lined up?

Outside of booking dance shows & DJ gigs - I am working booking some permanent residencies in the city to share my music talent with more people. My biggest upcoming project is something totally different however. I’m currently starting my first business - my best friend and I are building an app! We are trying to create a new social network for music. Right now we are calling it “Plava” (pronounced like flava but with the word play) - the concept behind it is pretty simple too. We want to give people a place to share their personal music flavor. It’ll kind of be like having your own radio station. Coming soon!!

  Every time I see you, you always have a big smile on your face. It definitely rubs off on those around you. Why do you always seem so high on life?     

I’m glad you asked this. I’m a very spiritual guy to be honest. I just try to carry the spirit of love in my heart wherever I go.

Tell me something you love about Memphis and something you would change. 

I love Memphis’ culture dearly. There truly is no place on Earth like Memphis, Tennessee. As for one thing I would change, I would change the mindset of the people here. I think we need to think bigger. My goal in my lifetime is to turn this city into one of the worlds biggest cities. I want to bring the Olympics here. In order to do that we are all going to have to make a major shift in how we view our city and set our goals.

What are some of your favorite spots in the city to hang out or eat?

I honestly love going to the movies so shout out to Malco haha. Otherwise I’m out pretty frequently on Beale or any local club, normally either DJaying or dancing. I also love Hueys & Pyros.

Big question time! Grizzlies, Tigers or Redbirds?

I love all Memphis sports, but I’ve been an NBA fan forever. I was so excited when we got the Grizzlies when I was a kid. I hope to buy the team someday and keep them in Memphis forever.

You can connect with Ryan via his Instagram @ryanthemind_ 

Life is for Living,

Michael B.