Arts Corps’ newest board member knows the power of Arts Corps programs. He’s lived it.
When Robert Eyerman first started break dancing more than 10 years ago as a student at Denny Middle School, he hated it. His only thought on day one, “this sucks.”
The class started off banished to the portables, but after a while, it was moved to the cafeteria, which had a stage. On this stage, Robert finally pulled off a dance move called the ‘hand glide.’ It was just a middle school cafeteria, but it was still a stage, and he was the only kid there who managed to do it. Suddenly surrounded by positive feedback, by peers and adults applauding his accomplishment, Robert felt a moment of power. After years of feeling berated in foster care or ignored by adults, it was a moment of love.
Robert was hooked by the power of dance. He continued to pursue breaking throughout middle school and high school through his Arts Corps classes at Denny Middle School and Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Eventually he was asked to perform alongside his mentor, teaching artist Jerome Aparis of the internationally renowned Massive Monkees crew. The invitation was a huge reward for years of persistence and dedication. “When you have so much respect for a guy who’s out there rocking the whole world, and he asks you to perform alongside him, that was monumental.”
B-boying offered Robert a place to build trust, stability, and self-esteem. When he discovered a love for dance, it proved to him that he could find love in other places. “When you master one thing, it teaches you how to learn, how to love and be passionate about something.”
When he found himself failing high school math and chemistry, he had a new reservoir of self-esteem to use as a tool. A new muscle. Despite struggling at first, he found that math and chemistry offered a way to trust what adults were telling him. Growing up, “every time I was told something, I was lied to.” The infallible logic of math and chemistry finally gave Robert a subject he could believe in. He began applying the discipline he learned through dance to these subjects.
A decade later, Robert holds a double-degree in chemistry and biochemistry from UW. He has been pursuing a career in medicine and has worked as a clinical researcher in the hepatology clinic of Harborview Medical Center. Through dance, he’s accomplished his dreams of traveling on tour and competing globally. This fall, he not only joined the Arts Corps board, but he also started teaching a free breaking class at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center so youth like him can find a place to overcome challenges and thrive, just like him.
<< Previous Article Next Article >>