Cjaiilon Andrade, known as Snap Boogie and sometimes just Snap in the dance circuit, stands at 5’7, but his presence is as composed as it is towering. Tap dancer, original choreographer, popper, break dance phenomenon, his performance runs the gamut.
If you’re lucky enough to get a glimpse of this rising talent in a Boston public square (days when, he shared with me during a recent impromptu interview, “I just feel like getting out and performing without having planned anything, try a new move, see how people react”) you will see how his performances are like improvised plays. In street settings, I saw Snap play with cultural and racial stereotypes, exposing set patterns of thought by allowing people to laugh at themselves. It is an interactive destabilizing of the status quo to slamming drumbeats and incredibly impressive dance technique. And you never know when or where he may appear.
You may have seen Snap Boogie on America’s Got Talent back in 2011. He was a semifinalist, drawing praise from all for his lightening quick movement that he mastered in the streets, dance contests, and clubs of Roxbury, Massachusetts. “Dance is a language,” and, as he told me, “I grew up surrounded by my mother’s languages, listening to her translate between Continental and Brazilian Portuguese, Crioulo Cabo Verdeano, Spanish, French, and English.” Roxbury’s languages—home to one of the largest Cape Verdean communities in the United States, center of African American Bostonian culture and Afro-Latin American cultures—also find their way into Snap’s choreography. He listens to Sara Tavares on his headphones, Kaytranada, classic hip hop numbers from the late 90’s, James Brown, and even the latest pop hits. He’s constantly choreographing as he listens. In the off-the-beaten-path clubs of Boston and Cambridge, Snap arrives with his signature backpack, contagious smile, and the circle opens instantly. You want him to dance, you open the way for him to dance. His performances build from what America’s Got Talent judges described as his “edgy, organic core.” They are dangerous and keep the audience engaged.
After America’s Got Talent, Snap travelled the world, bringing his infectious acrobatics to stages, public plazas, universities, and dance halls of Europe, the Americas, and Japan. Most recently, he has been performing at colleges throughout the U.S., packed auditoriums and concert halls of places as far away from Roxbury as South Dakota.
Snap’s is a difficult repertoire to describe because the routine dramatically changes every time I happen to see him perform. Once, by Faneuil Hall, I watched him arrive and gather together over 300 people before he even started to move. Did they gravitate to him magnetically, I thought? Bostonians are not noted for their emotive warmth yet within a matter of minutes, Snap had them laughing, clapping, dancing, volunteering as human obstacles for him to flip over, dancing through the air like a cross between Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson. He works crowds like the greatest of constructivist classroom facilitators. In addition to speaking to crowds through movement, he told me, “I learn how to greet people in their language… it creates a bond and lets them know they can trust me. And then I jump over seven of them, landing in synch with the beat and finishing with whatever comes to mind.”
When he’s not dancing, Snap is planning out his future with dance. He’s working on a Broadway show and, if time permits, he will start taking travelers to the Boston behind-the-scenes world of dance and music that he knows intimately. The Boston of dance competitions, street performances, dance clubs off the tourist network and more. Down the road, he wants to find a way to give back to his community through dance and sharing the artistic, expressive outlet. “Whatever you do, whatever talents you’re given,” he says, “you just have to make sure it is giving something back. Otherwise you never get out of the cycle.” My next piece on incredible local artist Terence Tavares follows that call. Stay tuned!
This article was originally written in English by Jacob Dyer Spiegel of SiroccoBlue.com. If you enjoyed the read, please check out the Facebook Page and “Like” it! I offer assistance with the personal statement & statement of purpose for undergraduate and graduate school programs in the US. I do the same for scholarship and grant applications. I’m a freelance translator (Portuguese, Spanish, English) and I also build high-impact language and culture study abroad programs in Brazil, Cuba, Portugal, and Spain (among other countries). Check out all of the services right here!