Andy's story where it all began
According to my mum I was dancing in the womb! But my first dance class was with my older sis where aged 8 I would go to her tap classes. Being the only boy in a dance school was daunting at first but as I got older the advantages started to become apparent!
Me rocking the luminous green cords and matching fred flintstone shirt at a party. I will never forgive my mum for dressing me in those early years!
In the end classical dance wasn’t for me, so I played football instead. I did ok, I played for my district and was signed to Wycombe Wanderers to become a professional player. My early dance experience definitely helped my football ability because my core strength balance and co-ordination was better, after my early dance training I found it much easier to pick up sports. I wanted to be a pro footballer until one day when I was 15 and my passion for dance was re-ignited.
My mum got me the making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video which I watched over and over and emulated as many moves as I could. It got me hooked and before I knew it I would be skipping my homework to practice my moves ready for the party at the weekend! Unfortunately at this time my father had gone bankrupt so we had no money I would work several part time jobs just to be able to afford the next dance video!
Stu and Johnny Dj-ing at a house party
Around the same time my older brother figure a DJ called Jonny Rhythm (RIP) would feed me with Hip Hop knowledge and videos from Beat Street to Wild Style. Schooling me up on Hip Hop culture and different Street Dance styles. In life I always find someone who is a “gatekeeper” the person who introduces you to a new culture. Jonny was my gatekeeper, he should me a whole new world of Hip Hop and Street dance culture and I became hooked.
Johnny would give me mix tapes which I would play at house parties on a Friday and Saturday night. I lived for the circle, I’d get in it and show everyone the latest moves I learned. This was my life, living for those few moments, each week at the parties. Then my mates saw the impact it was having on the girls!!! And they were like, “Instone, show me those moves!” before I knew it I was showing my mates the moves I learnt from the videos.
Jonny on the wheels of steel!
Me and the boys from school
The energy started to grow at school as more of my mates and their mates started to take an interest in the dance I was doing, before I knew it I was asking the Headmaster if I could use the school hall at Lunch Time. Well things started to get bigger so I choreographed an all boys piece (mostly all the lads from the football team!) for a national schools competition called Rock challenge. It went down really well with the crowd and the judges had some very positive words for us about how refreshing it was to see so many boys on stage.
We won our heat and came third 3rd in the national finals. It brought our whole community together and showed me for the first time what good can happen when people come together and strive for something previously out of their reach. It was great to get my mates on board with dancing where before they thought it was something other people did, they soon started to see why I loved it so much.
One of my lasting memories of Rock challenge was me and my friend Marcus being inspired from the dance routine in the movie “House Party” I swear we watched that movie until it wore out!
As people started to hear of what we had created with the boys football team word started to spread, before I knew it I was inundated with offers to choreograph this and that show, teach here and teach there, yet I was still self taught at this point and everything I did came from just feeling the music and what I had picked up.
Where I started my first lunch time street dance class.
My early teaching days, check out those UFO's... mmmm, they were big in the noughties... honest.
So with this new drive and energy and focus around my dancing my school work suffered. I was doing my A levels whilst teaching and choreographing for local dance schools every night as well as choreographing for school shows and basically I wasn’t doing my homework!!! (naughty boy!) luckily it worked out alright in the end!
Then I discovered a truth that would change my life… I discovered that my childhood dance hero Michael Jackson had teachers! At the time I was in one of the first Hip Hop dance crews in the UK called Culture Shock, it was a great experience and I’m still good friends with a lot of the members 10 years later! Then one of my first teachers (Omar, head of Culture Shock)) brought a Street Dance pioneer to teach us. I was lucky enough to have met Brooklyn Terry From Hip Hop crew Elite Force who helped me and educated me and laughed with me! He opened the door to the history of the culture and it was at this moment I was hooked!
Brooklyn Terry – Elite Force Street Dance pioneer
Here is a pic of Ask restaurant where I was a waiter, If you go in to the back of the restaurant you can still see my urban strides stickers stuck to the glass doors…oooopps!
It was at this point that I decided to go and learn everything I could. At that time the original Street Dance pioneers were hardly ever in the UK, so I would have to save all my money for air fare, classes and hotel costs just to go and learn from them. At one point I was working 3 jobs: on a building site, at a restaurant and at a nightclub.
So after working 6 and 7 day weeks and putting in 16 hr days I eventually saved enough money to travel and learn. It was an amazing trip and since then I’ve travelled all around the world and learnt from over 23 Street dance pioneers in the major street dance styles, Breakin, Hip Hop, House, locking and Popping. It’s a journey that I still love being on 15 years later, learning, travelling, studying and educating peeps on the truth about Street Dance culture is what I love.
Brooklyn Terry and I when he came over to teach at Urban Strides
What I love now is being able to bring over my teachers – the pioneers of the culture to teach the next generation of Urban Striders. This is an opportunity I never had and I feel blessed that I can give our students the chance to work with so many pioneers. Here's a video of when another of my teachers the legendary Suga Pop from the Electric Boogaloo's came over to teach our students
So after I left school I decided to go out on my own and start up a dance class. To start my first class I saved £70 from my jobs, hired a hall and put some posters up. After my students started to improve we decided to start a crew. Then we began to enter and win competitions and talent shows, after that word started to spread.
Once I returned after my first set of travels is when things really started to take off with all of my new authentic knowledge the improvement in the students was huge. I could see what a massive difference it made when you taught the real Street Dance foundations and helping pass on the authentic aspects of Street Dance culture was so fullfilling. The Royal Variety show came calling, it was such an honor. choreographing for the Her Majesty the Queen… My mum cried. Standard.
James meeting Her majesty the Queen
We also had a lot of fun with the boys from Mc Fly, we even found time to teach Danny how to glide!...
Then things started to get nuts I even got to choreograph for Basement Jaxx at their headline performance at Glastonbury, here’s me and my sis chilling before the big performance…
Then the brands came calling and I did a whole heap of shizzle with Vauxhall including doing shows with Dizzee Rascal and Sean Paul...
Me and the crew with Sean Paul
I also directed a performance showcasing the finest crop of UK Hip Hop talent working with Beatboxers Shlomo and Beardyman, BBoy crew the Soul Mavericks, the Disablists (UK DMC champs) and Flawless
Vauxhall seemed to like what we did so they gave us our very own urban Strides A-team van... get in!
After the Royal Variety Performance it all went a little crazy and Blue Peter even dedicated a whole show to us! We opened the show taught a group of ballet dancers how to do what we do then we ended it with a performance…I love my Blue Peter badge…fact.
Then over a period of a few years we started to do DVD’s I started off just presenting them but then as my confidence grew I got into directing and then after working on DVD’s for some big brands like CDUK I started doing executive producing. So I decided to do our very own DVD. At the time we were the only UK Street Dance crew to produce, direct and star in our own DVD.
After that some great opportunities came up to travel and share my knowledge… This is me in Prague teaching some peeps…
Then we got asked to do an arena tour! That was 6 years ago now we’re on to our 8th tour, phew!....
I've had some surreal moments in my life like doing the backslide (moonwalk) dressed as a guerilla in front of 125’000 people at Glastonbury festival. But getting Sir Richard Branson to dress up as bear and do the running man by a soundtrack created by my long term collaborative bretherin and beatbox legend “Beardyman” has to be up there…
Me, Sir Richard and Beardyman...
As well as travelling around the world and being lucky enough to dance and choreograph on some of the biggest stages some of my proudest moments have been what I’ve managed to inspire in others to give them the confidence to achieve their dreams. Here’s one of my first students Sammi showing her family around the set of Michael Jackson’s thriller live where she was a dance captain for over a year…
Here's a pic of Alex... Alex used to work at PC World but he’s followed his dream of Performing, choregraphing and sharing his love of Street Dance with the world…
They're just a few examples of what’s being going on since I started, there’s lots more that’s happened but they’re just some highlights. I started off with no money, a bankrupt family in a small house in High Wycombe. But with a lot of work and dedication and the incredible support of family both the ones who made me and my Urban Strides family I’m very lucky and proud to be able to do what I love…
I think If I can do it with nothing else but a vision and some grit and determination then I know you can do it too... life’s too short not to…If you’re not already, make the decision today to follow your dream, I can tell you it will be the best decision you ever make…It definitely won’t be easy but then nothing that was worthwhile ever was…Keep on dancing…Keep on smiling…x
Webelievethat2mindsarebetterthan1. thatlifeisourstomakewithitwhatwewant. thatsunsetsarebeautiful. musicisfoodforthesoul. tocreateistolive. dancingisinsideallofus. thatyoushouldbepreparedtorunontheroadlongbeforeyoudanceunderthelights. thatifyoureallysetyourmindtoanythingyoucanacheiveit. thatlovedoesinfactmaketheworldgoround. thateverydayisagift. thatyoushouldtakecareofyourmum. thatyoushouldopendorrsforpeople. thatyoushouldtellpeopleyoulovethemasmuchasyoucan. thatyoushouldtryandlaughsomuchyourfacefallsoffatleastonceaday. thathuggingistheshizzle. thathifivesareunderused. thatmakingsomeoneelsehappyisthebestthingyoucando. thatsmilingatpeopleisimportant. youshouldbeproudofyourownvoice. thatachasmcan’tbecrossedintwosmallsteps. youshoulddomoreofwhatmakesyouhappy. youshoulddanceinasupermarketatleastonce. thatlamasmakeunpracticaldomesticpets. thatopportunitiesforexpressionarevital. thatyoucansolvemostofyourproblemsbydancing. thismessagemaycontainnuts.
Below is a brief selection of some of Andy’s work…
- Alesha Dixon Street Dance stars season 1,2,3
- Glastonbury main stage - BBC1, BBC3
- Born to shine – Choreography and consultancy – ITV 1
- Urban Dance explosion advert channel 4, MTV, MTV base
- CDUK DVD adverts- ITV, Channel 4, E4
- Phat moves DVD – MTV, Living,
- Blue peter - BBC 1
- The Royal Variety Performance - ITV1
- World Hip Hop Championships
- Street Dance XXL – (Previously Street dance weekend)
- Street Dance International
- The Jump off
- Nike Face off – T mobile stadium - Prague
A selection of live performances
- Royal variety performance – Cardiff
- London O2 arena
- Manchester MEN
- Birmingham LG
- Newcastle Metro arena
- Royal Albert Hall
- Sky Arts Hay festival
- Sheffield Hallam arena
- Dublin RDS
- Belfast Odysey
- Sadlers wells
- Brighton Dome
- Milton Keynes Ambassadors Theatre
- Choreographed the first Street Dance crew to open the Royal Variety Performance in the presence of her majesty the Queen.
- 1st UK Street Dance crew to perform at over 100 arena’s
- Creator of the world’s 1st Accredited Authentic Street Dance teacher training 10 day diploma.
- Directed the worlds largest choir performance
We'd love to hear from you, if you would like to have Andy come and inspire your people with a talk, a workshop, masterclass, TV work or you have press enquiries fill out your details below and Andy’s manager Alison will be in touch.
Please be aware due to Andy’s tight schedule and commitments he only has very limited availability. We operate a fair 1st come 1st served policy so the sooner you get in touch the more likely it will be we can confirm a date.