By Jim Bea Sampaga
Every week, Ian Navasca teaches at least seven dance classes between Waipahu Intermediate School and his non-profit Waipahu dance studio, Treasure Box Studios. A former Jabbawockeez Show performer in Las Vegas, the 25-year-old Navasca has been dancing for more than a decade now.
“I was inspired by watching the Jabbawockeez on TV in 2008,” Navasca said. “That encounter led me to emulate and practice all their moves at home.”
The Jabbawockeez are a hip-hop dance crew from San Diego, California who won the first season of America’s Best Dance Crew in 2008. Known for their mesmerizing hip-hop dance performances and staple outfit of white masks and gloves, Jabbawockeez mainly consists of Filipino-American members.
“They inspired me because they were excellent in their craft and when they took off their masks,” Navasca said. “I discovered that the majority of them were Filipino which made me happy and also surprised.”
In 2010, he started his YouTube channel where he would constantly post his dance training sessions during the first year of his dancing. “YouTube was my accountability partner at the beginning of my dance journey,” Navasca said. “I used YouTube as a way to critique myself through the footage I would record.”
Navasca’s primary dance style is hip-hop but his dance style changed over the years
through the different dance teachers that he worked with during his career. Recently, he started creating more storytelling dance choreography videos which can be viewed through his YouTube channel.
His passion for dancing led him to multiple amazing opportunities such as performing alongside hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez for their Las Vegas headline shows in 2011 and 2015.
“Working with Jabbawockeez was truly a dream come true. They were the very ones who inspired me to start dancing which made the experience much more meaningful,” Navasca shared.
One of Navasca’s biggest hardships in his career that he still struggles with to this day is self-doubt. And getting the position as a performer in the Las Vegas show was not an easy task.
“I felt that I was failing so much in terms of the quality of dance that I was performing,” he shared. “At that time I needed to push past my capabilities and believe [in myself] in order to secure my position on the show.”
Navasca said it’s all about breaking past the mindset of “I can’t do it.”
“I remember the feeling I felt that I was scheduled to perform the live show and it was the greatest feeling in the world. I wouldn’t have gotten there if I didn’t put in the work to become greater at the craft,” he said.
In 2012 and 2013, Navasca and his dance group Black Canvas competed in the Hawaii edition of the popular dance competition World of Dance. They won 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
“The process of preparing for those competitions took hard-work, patience, and a lot of failures,” Navasca reminisced.
“We needed to work hard: physically, mentally, spiritually and creatively. All in all, what pushed the team forward through the hard times was our commitment and focus to the vision of our crew.”
When Navasca moved back to Hawaii from Las Vegas in 2015, his next goal was to become a full-time dance teacher. Formerly known as “The Playground,” Navasca established Treasure Box Studios in Waipahu, a faith-based non-profit organization that offers free dance classes to the public. He also teaches dance classes at Waipahu Intermediate School.
“I could recall that the first couple of weeks teaching dance again really opened my eyes to see that educating and developing people in the art of dance is what truly makes me happy,” Navasca said.
As an artist, there will always be times that the passion for the craft and artistry starts to fade away. But every time Navasca starts to feel this way, he looks back and reflects on his purpose, identity and future. He calls this the “three waves of reflection.”
“The first wave is to really dig deep and rediscover your purpose in why you started that craft,” Navasca shared. “The second wave is to identify anything in your life now that could be a passion drainer. The third wave is to set your trajectory upward.”
For the next decade, Navasca hopes to create more dance shows, raise future dance teachers and performers, and contribute to making a positive impact in communities worldwide.
For aspiring dancers who want to follow their dreams of being a performer and choreographer, Navasca said: “If you love what you do, create a structure for you to accomplish your goals. You’ll find that your dreams are more tangible than you think.”
Ian Navasca is a performer, dance instructor and choreographer. He teaches free Beginner Urban Choreography at Treasure Box Studios, Waipahu every Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Visit mytreasureboxstudios.com for more details. Follow him on instagram: @iannavasca.