We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Adrian (AJ) Flores a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Adrian (AJ), looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. We’d love to hear the backstory behind a risk you’ve taken – whether big or small, walk us through what it was like and how it ultimately turned out.
It’s not really much of a story about taking a risk. It’s more of a current reflection of my journey taking this risk. There is no rulebook or guidelines, when it comes to the desire to make a living based of sharing your artistry. Anyone and Everyone is an artist in my opinion. To make a choice to cultivate your artistry, and make it a profession is the biggest risk you can take in my opinion. No matter the canvas of your artistry, once we decide to cultivate our gift/vision, it begins to hold value for it to be shared with the world. A non-artistic path, is one that is already laid out for you to follow and reach a guaranteed outcome. The artistic path is a risk that requires faith in the vision through the gift, for the path reveals itself as you move along the way. The biggest risk you can take is forge a path of your own and not follow a path already laid out or what others tell you to follow.
The freedom that comes with making your artistry a profession, is not for the faint of heart. It takes a level of discipline, integrity and belief in the process of that vision being actualized. Discipline to endlessly cultivate the artistic gift. Integrity to express the artistic gift in the most authentic way possible. And belief that your artistic gift is the key to living a fulfilling life.
As I reflect on my decision to forge my own path, I’ve experienced too many fulfilling opportunities to not believe in my artistic gift. I’m way too deep in this lifestyle to stop now and opt out for security and stability a corporate profession could offer me. So for now, I remind myself everyday to keep going along this unknown path. I continue to practice gratitude in having faith in the vision that was revealed to me. I know as I continue to cultivate my artistry, I will continue to bear the fruits of my labor, aligned with love, abundance and fulfillment.
Adrian (AJ), before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I’ve always had a love for the Performing Arts coming out the womb and into this world. I remember being an actor as one of the things I wanted to be when I grow up. Yet I was always dancing to a Missy Elliot music video or in the living room reenacting N*sync’s Live Concert Film at Madison Square Garden, with the carpet as the stage.
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, my parents kept me active as a kid, putting me in sports leagues, with Basketball being my main consistent sport. It wasn’t till my senior year of high school when I joined a hip-hop dance crew, where a passion grew to take dance more seriously. I moved to Austin, Texas shortly after, with a desire to get my Bachelors in Acting, but was offered to choose a second major to study at the University of Texas of Austin in the Radio/Television/Film program, after I missed the deadline to turn in my audition tapes for the acting program.
My college years, I spent the majority of my time creating choreography and developing my artistic voice (still am developing my voice). For I quickly realized by being in a hip-hop dance crew for only a year, it was unsustainable for me to just be a dancer and perform other peoples choreography. I innately felt that I needed to be the one to create and express movement that was authentic to me and made sense to the music.
It was important for me to stand out in the hip-hop choreography scene by being unconventional and animated with my movement. It is difficult for me to not think outside the box, because I’d be sacrificing my integrity by conforming to the dance trends of that time.
Nowadays I find myself growing artistically as a choreographer, by cultivating the discipline to learn foundation styles of dance and consistintly freestyle/improve dancing. Within my 8 years of dance experience, I’ve had opportunities to choreograph and movement direct several music videos and live shows for artist performing at SXSW and Format Festival and ACL Festival. Since embarking on this journey, I realize this passion for artistic movement is a journey of constant nurturing.
As a 25 year old Spanish/Mexican American living in Austin, Texas, I find myself being of service as a highly skilled street-style choreographer you can’t find anywhere else in the world, and as a performance development coach serving as a bridge between the musician/artist community and dance community in Texas.
Is there mission driving your creative journey?
The mission is to continue to lead a sovereign life while living sustainably and off-grid. The Texas Freeze’s that have transpired, causing the Texas electrical grid to go down, were a wake-up call for me to not depend on a system to provide my basic necessities of water, electricity, and food. The goal is to build off the land my family already owns, creating a home where we can garden our own food, collect and filter rain water, and use solar panels to store electricity.
Anything that happens after this, is a step toward inspiring the world to live in a similar way; Having symbiotic relationship with Earth and liberating oneself from the ways of a capitalist system.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
3-4-years into my dance journey, I found myself teaching my choreography at various studios in the Texas community. This was a taste of my first time getting paid for my artistry and bringing it in a classroom setting. About a year into this, I slowly started to realize how unsustainable it was, not only because I felt my choreography was worth more than the hourly rate I was being compensated for, but because I was pushed to produce new material to teach every week. This quickly caused great dissonance in my relationship with dance, it started to feel like a job. My passion slowly started to become bitter, and because I am my own worst critic, I was disciplined to continue to be innovative/authentic in my movement, and sacrifice creating dances that were bland and surface level just to be lazy and get a check. Thankfully, life stepped in and I was called to study abroad in Spain and in LA for the last year of my college career. This was one of the greatest resets of my life, causing me to leave behind the momentum I was building in my dance career. My time overseas gave me a new perspective on how I want to go about making my artistry a profession. I came back to Austin with a new lens, starting from ground zero, and choosing to focus on collaborating with musicians/artist and how I can bridge that world with the dance community.
Nowadays you’ll only see me “teach” a class every week called, ‘Intuitive Choreography’, which is a fancy way of having a class to create new choreography on the spot with a class full of students. What better way to learn dance, than to pull up to a dance session, and someone is creating movement in real time to different genre’s of music. This “class” is a way for me to stay creatively fresh and inspired, while working out my productivity muscle in real time. Most of the choreography I make in this class, end up being choreography I go back to later to tweak and finish up to actually teach a Drop-in Movement Workshop or create a Visual concept for the movement.
- Instagram: @adrianjflores_
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/AJFloresChannel
- Other: Email for booking inquires: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabriel Morgan, Bita Ghassemi, Pao Young, Chris Cannon