We had a chance to catch up with our good friend Taj recently, we asked him a few questions about his beginnings in Hip Hop, Dance, and a lot more. Check out what he had to say:
RSJ - Please introduce yourself to the people: Name, crew, affiliations, city?
Taj- I am Tanjim Rahman, also known as Taj. I founded a non-profit dance organization known as Dancing for a Cause. I represent Impact N Change Crew, Team Athena, and True Friends. I was born in Bronx, NY and moved to Dallas when I was 18. Lived in both cities in my formative years so I represent both as well.
RSJ - Tell us a little bit about your beginnings in dance, Hip Hop, and how you got into it?
Taj - I grew up watching my sister dance with my cousins preparing for shows. They did Bollywood and hiphop fusion. Then 'You Got Served' came out and I fell in love with street dance and wanted to learn more. I remember freezing every frame during the bboy rounds and practicing what I learned later was a 3-step. I began with breaking when I was in highschool with a crew of homies who are to this day still my best friends. It was 2008 when I began breaking with them and still a student to the craft today.
RSJ - Who were some of your major influences in dance?
Taj - Jason Hong, Scott Yoon, Minbo Shim, Daniel Choi, Zeshen, Rocky, Matt Ji, KidFresh, Jordan Rai, Joe Song, Batman Tam, Visith Mak, Peang Ngo, Yusuke Iwase, Checo, Qreus UNB, Pawflo, Kozmic, Alan Nguyen, Gifted, Valkary, T-Soup, Jive Turkeys, Vicious Germz, Omarion Grandberry, Marques Houston, Alex Lu, Mark Wang, Bboy Crumbs, Baek, Locking Khan, Larkin Poynton, Brian Puspos, Chris Martin, Sean Evaristo, Keone & Mari, Kevin Middleton, Illa-Red
RSJ - Tell us a bit about your beginnings with Diamond City Studios (formerly DFC), how did it all start?
Taj - At the time I was renting out space at what was Illustrative Studios. The studio was not doing too well, and the owners were shutting doors. Dancing for a Cause had two teams representing us competitively at the time and they were INC, and Neighborhood. I was able to sublease the space and I took on the business at the age of 22 while still in school. It was extremely tough and took a lot of dedication and effort but ultimately was able to take on the full-lease agreement within the same year. It was due to unity, collective action, and the hunger to represent Dallas competitively that fueled the beginnings of the studio.
RSJ - What are some of your most memorable moments in dance? And at DCS/DFC?
Taj - The first time Dallas took first at World of Dance, concrete cyphers in front of Escape, Hot Import Night Jam, Breakout Jams, HK Breakdown, witnessing my brother Kevin and his team win WOD, meeting Kory at the studio and he was doing finger tuts during a cypher, witnessing the same Kory win 7-To-Smoke popping years later, witnessing every single person who came in the studio a nooblet becoming who they are today, witnessing Valkary battle Shadowz at Misfit, all the jokes and after hours conversations in our lobby, all the friends and family nights, all the rehearsal run throughs leading up to competition, all the team chants, all the moments of self reflection and discovery, all the dark room sessions.
RSJ - What are your thoughts on the current Dance scene? In Dallas, Nationwide, worldwide?
Taj - I feel the dance scene is at a battle within itself between becoming a lucrative career and remaining true to the artform. Balancing the viewpoint of dance as a business as well as a passion is extremely difficult to get right. I feel as a dance scene we lack the professionalism to take our current value and create more value from it. Just as much time dedication and energy is put into practicing the art form, dancers need to learn that being punctual, organized, and having a big picture mentality are important to turn your passion into a business. You cannot dilly dally in between and expect results. On a biggerscope, I believe nationwide dance is being noticed more as a means for advertising and marketing. TikTok, for example, is widely viral for its dance challenge capacity. People love dancing and it contributed to the virality of TikTok as a brand. This is a testament to the power dance has nationwide and as an industry. Worldwide is when it still becomes tough as a working dancer. Dance is worldwide but its still predominantly small business. Even World of Dance had to partner with NBC to get past the YouTube platform and onto TV. There aren’t many large-scale dance corporations and that may be a reason why we will begin to see growth in this direction. Dancers will need to pick up more technical and core skills to see a future in making a real living off their passion. Which brings me to a final observation. I noticed that there is this unnecessary motivation to drop your education to pursue dance in Dallas. I don’t believe people should resort to that, I believe if you work hard enough you can manage to still pursue an education and improve your capabilities in dance. In fact, I would argue that this is a better way to go about pursuing dance as a career. You do not necessarily have to study dance in school, but you could study a field that would supplement your career as a dancer, such as, marketing or business administration.
RSJ - Where do you see the dance scene and DCS in the future?
Taj - I see the dance scene always existing here, I believe there are enough cultural pockets of genuine energy that will create more dancers and there is enough worldwide influence for dance to exist here as well. DCS will serve to be a very useful gateway for dancers of all skill levels to hone in on their craft and be connected to the greater dance community.
RSJ - What are some of your major goals with Diamond City Studios?
I would like for my brand to be able to create valuable work opportunity and financial security for dance teachers and creatives of Dallas. I want it to be a major brand for dance out of Dallas.
RSJ - What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into dance? And advice on starting/running a business?
Taj - It is a very lonely road, make sure you really appreciate all the roses.
If you want to start a business, have a big picture mentality when creating your mission statement for the business. Make sure you look up the definition of “entrepreneur.” Then look up the definition of a business. Finally, be decisive. Forever improve on the practice of making sound and informed business decisions.
RSJ - Where can people go to find your dance and work? Social Media? Websites? pages?
Taj - Find me on linkedin: linkedin.com/in/taj
RSJ - Shout outs and last words?
Shout out to RealStreetJams. Protect the brand
Realstreetjams would like to thank Taj for taking the time to do this interview, stay up brotha!