Juilliard Student Xavier Logan Makes History Creating 1st Hip Hop Dance to Touch School's Main Stage
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Gayes, dance scholar Xavier Logan does it again! Back in Spring 2021, we exclusively reported on Atlanta native Xavier Logan earning over $1.3 million in college scholarships and being accepted to 13 different dance universities across the country. Xavier finally decided on attending The Juilliard School, where he received an offer of $200,000 in aid.
Fast forward to today, Xavier is a proud student in Juilliard’s Class of 2025, has now completed his sophomore year at Juilliard, and is already making a huge impact at the world-renowned performing arts school.
On September 2022, Xavier Logan choreographed his own Hip Hop routine entitled “Welcome to the J(u)” in Juilliard's Student Choreography Workshop. According to Xavier, the purpose of this routine was to showcase the technical versatility and range of Juilliard dancers.
In April of this year, “Welcome to the J(u)” was subsequently chosen for Juilliard's Annual Choreographic Honors Showcase and presented the following month. The mere selection alone instantly broke barriers, making Xavier’s routine the first authentic Hip Hop dance routine to be presented on Juilliard’s main stage, the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, and showcased at the Juilliard’s “ChoreoHonors” show, in the school’s 118-year history.
In the midst of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary, Xavier’s pioneering performance on Juilliard’s main stage is definitely in perfect alignment.
Additionally, during his sophomore year, Logan independently choreographed two additional dance routines, “Seeds of Sodomy” and “My provocative” which focus on Black queer history and women’s empowerment respectively.
Watch the Performance Below!
In his YouTube vlog series where Xavier regularly documents his dance journey, he says…
“This [routine] allowed me to be ghetto, raunchy, bougie, technical, flamboyant, aggressive, assertive… and to choreograph it in a way that allowed me to tap into those different sides of me…gave me a free pathway to showcase not only my faculty, myself, but everyone in the audience.”
Xavier graciously gave us details on the background and purpose behind “Welcome to the J(u)”, his own choreography experience, and what he hopes to accomplish with his talents in the near future.
"Welcome to the J(u)" Dancers
What was your thought process behind creating “Welcome to the J(u)”?
“I called it “Welcome to the J(u)” because our artistic director, who is a Black woman, often refers to Juilliard as the “J” to help it seem like a home. Something about J(u) just made more sense to me. Instead of saying “Welcome to the J”, I said “Welcome to the J(u)”, but I wanted to make sure I paid tribute to what she called it, so I put “u” in parentheses, so it can look like it’s silent if it wants to be.”
“I wanted to showcase a different realm of what Juilliard students look like. At school, we only study ballet, contemporary, and modern techniques. We have a hip-hop class in our freshman year but it’s only one semester and more about the fundamentals, mechanics, and history of Hip Hop. I wanted to showcase that Juilliard dancers can do hip hop and that it can be great and amazing.”
“It wasn’t the impetus to focus on Black culture, but being from Atlanta, I wanted to showcase a very ghetto, raw, raunchy version of it, so there’s a little bit of majorette in there and a little bit of vogue in it. There are a lot of nuances of clapping and getting in each other’s faces because that’s how I was taught Hip Hop growing up…very raw, very in your face, very flamboyant, but it allows you to be so many different things.”
Can you tell us about your background in choreography?
“When I was little I would always find songs that I really enjoy, create my own little routine and showcase it to my family in the living room.”
“But as I’ve gotten older, one of my first big works happened in high school at North Springs. I was put in the level called Company, which is the highest dance level that they have at the school, in my freshman year. That was also somewhat unheard of for freshmen, [Company] is normally something you work up to as you go throughout the school.”
“In Company, most classes are student-led. Within those student-led classes, we are given showcases throughout the year that we choreograph for. Choreographing throughout high school showed me that not only do I love choreographing, but I don’t limit myself to what style, genre, or group size of dancers I like to use.”
What made you decide to choreograph at Juilliard, specifically during your sophomore year?
“The pattern that you see in Juilliard is that most of the time freshmen are really scared to present work. In my freshman year I did not choreograph until April and that’s when I did a Hip Hop piece in the student-led workshop entitled “And So It Begins" and everyone loved it.”
“So then after I did that piece, I was like okay we’re going to come back, and in September boom! We’re just going to start the year off with doing it Hip Hop, make it good, and showcase it in an actual workshop so that it can qualify for Choreographic Honors.”
Since the presentation of “Welcome to the J(u)”, have you seen any changes from Juilliard’s reception to Hip Hop styles?
“As soon as I got the email that it was chosen, I already knew that it made history being the first Hip Hop dance on the main stage at Juilliard. Throughout the process, it was an interesting pathway. The costume designer didn’t have anything within the department that could represent Hip Hop, so they had to get a whole new wardrobe like joggers and crop tops.”
“It was the first time [the lighting designer] had so many lighting cues to accent so many different parts, because normally within a contemporary work it’s a general tone with general colors and a general experience throughout the piece.”
“It was refreshing to know that now they have the material, [so] if another piece like this comes up, they can use it,…and now know what to do.”
There’s one part in “Welcome to the J(u)” where it’s only the men dancing and I feel like men usually don’t get to showcase their sexuality and I felt like this piece was intentional.
“It was, in the dance industry it’s very common for males to play a macho man type of role, so using a majorette style and deciding to present in an all-male way was something very intentional. I myself didn’t really get the chance ever to express a more softer, flamboyant side of me on a stage. So not only to originally do it in a workshop and showcase my faculty, but for it to be chosen to be broadcasted on one of the main stages at Juilliard was very, very different for me, but I was excited and thankful I got to provide such a safe space for all of the other Black, queer males that were in that piece.”
From this experience, do you see yourself as a pioneer?
“I would classify myself as a pioneer. I have a letter that I say to the universe every morning and one of the last sentences talks about being a pioneer and a young trailblazer to those that look like me and to my younger self.”
“It was always a dream of mine from a very young age to go to Juilliard and now for it to be a reality and for me to be making history at such a place that’s known for its history and known for making artists that are historic on the platform of the art’s industry is humbling, exciting, and reminds me to keep going and continue to push myself.”
What impacts do you hope to create through dance?
“I want to be a choreographer that’s known for not teaching one style. That’s the first barrier I want to break. Although the arts industry has progressed, I’m still seeing a lot of choreographers being casted to fit into a bubble and I want them to be a little stubborn, rebellious, and to do their own thing regardless of the style that they’re known for.”
What takeaways do you have from your first two years at Juilliard?
“My first year was a lot of shock. I felt like I still managed to hold my ground and find myself at the end of the day. If there was a word of advice I would tell myself coming into my freshman year, I would say just do you.”
“I feel like my second year taught me a lot about relationships. I felt as though being in a new environment I was so excited to start so many new relationships and to really elevate where I see myself based off of the people I was surrounded by. This year really taught me a lot about my relationships to people…my village and just figuring out how to continue to cater to the ones I have and also be smart about how I want to continue to develop new ones.”
What are you looking forward to in your Junior Year?
“I’m looking forward to getting back to creating content. I have a lot of exciting things I want to do. I want to create a short film for the five Black, queer males, also called the Black Boujie Gays (BBGs), in my class, because there is not another class at Juilliard that has five Black, queer males. I’m also excited to change the way my content looks and to continue to push the boundaries of what people see from me.”
Congratulations Xavier and continue being the pioneer and trailblazer that you are!
Something tells us this won’t be the last time we’ll be hearing from him…
Be sure to check out Xavier’s YouTube channel for an in depth look into his dance journey and student life at Juilliard: https://youtube.com/@XavierLoganYouTube
Watch the Performance Below: