Photo by: Alan Castro
As he glides across the concrete ground with a hypnotizing stare, his body seems to shift form to a liquid-like movement. Resembling the motion of a contortionist, pair of arms are brought over a tilted head that is followed by a shoulder that rotates all the way around without popping out. He stares into his audience’s eyes as his body becomes possessed by his thoughts.
His name is Hampton Williams, but he goes by “Xcercist.” He is a 25-year-old dancer from Dallas, Texas who was first seen worldwide dancing on the Fox TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” After auditioning for them twice and delivering unforgettable performances, many doors were opened for his artistry to be seen.
He has traveled the country performing for celebrities and common folk alike, but he can typically be found at dance battles throughout Los Angeles. After developing his personalized expressions within dance, he made it part of his lifestyle to let the dance community know that what he does makes him stand out from the rest.
“After the show, I realized that I was doing something different with my artistry,” Williams said.
He calls his expression “OBE,” or out of body experience. He described it as taking what someone is feeling at the moment and making them see it through his movements. He stands alone in his style, but he is greatly supported by the dance community.
“I do what I do to save people through my movement, meaning trying to show them how to be cautiously aware of what we’re able to do and actually create something we want to do. Through my movement I can make you feel and go through the same experience I’m going through,” Williams said.
From the moment he laid his eyes on the moonwalk, he took it upon himself to find out what dancing was all about.
“It all started when I was in second grade where I saw a friend of mine do the moonwalk and I thought Michael Jackson was the only person who did the moonwalk. I went home and I kept doing it. From there I just started to move. I started to dance,” Williams said.
Many dancers try to do anything they can to make themselves stand out from the pile of artists who are fighting to make their names be known. It takes great skills and determination to achieve that, but when you can make yourself exclusive and bring about something no one else can, then that’s when you receive recognition.
It took Williams many years to develop “exorcism style,” his signature brand of dance, and make it accepted in a world where that can be a rigorous challenge.
His partner Darlesha “Valkary” Goggans, a 26-year-old performer, describes his dancing as abstract.
“He’s always been through these experiments with himself where he tries to take things to the next level. It’s not even dance anymore. It’s just expression,” Goggans said.
Williams moved to California on July of this year because he felt that he needed a taste of what the state was all about. He wanted to see what California had to offer in an artistic sense.
Since the move, he learned that he didn’t have to fit into a category to make himself known.
“It made me aware of what I’m able to do and more confident in doing it,” Williams said.
It’s hard for many dancers here in Los Angeles and all over the world to try and make what they do as performers accepted. According to Pierce College Hip-Hop teacher Maya Zellman, she approves of the upbringing of dancers and what they have to offer to the dance community as long as they pay homage to the foundation of dance.
“I think it’s wonderful that people are being creative and I think it’s definitely a genre that needs to be explored and people need to find their own voice,” Zellman said.
Zellman believes that in order for dancers to keep these styles of dance alive, they must keep the foundation of movement and prevent it from diminishing. Showing your voice and having the courage to stand out is, in her opinion, incredible.
“You do need to gain some respect by paying homage and learning your foundation, and showing that you have a respect for the culture and where it came from and then saying this is my voice. If you don’t have a sense of appreciation for what you are creating off of, then the history can get lost,” Zellman said.
Apart from being a dancer, Williams enjoys being behind the camera. He is currently working on making short anime dance films where he will develop short stories through animated movement.
Williams gave much thanks to artists such as Boogie Frantic and John Do for helping him control his movement and creative process. From them he has developed a love for other styles such as ballet, krump, popping and contemporary. In order to make himself stand out through those styles, he puts a twist on them by combining them with his form.
His way of dancing is an art form only he can do, but he is willing to share it with the dance community. He is supported by many dancers, and with that support he is determined to continue to grow as a dancer.