Jerrod Carmichael
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Dashaun Wesley: XXL Talent

Sophy Holland

Photography by Sophy Holland. Groomer: Angela Di Carlo

What surprised Dashaun Wesley most during rehearsals for Magic Mike XXL was how Channing Tatum treated him as an equal. “He came in and knew my name and gave me a big hug,” the dancer and choreographer says. “I was impressed by how much Channing wanted to know, how intuitive he was.”

Tatum’s eagerness was important, since Wesley’s job was to teach the movie star how to vogue in one of the film’s most dynamic scenes. “He said he wanted to learn how to dip, and do the shablam, which everyone calls the death drop,” Wesley says, exuding his own infectious energy as he speaks. “I was like, ‘OK!’ And he did it. He was so dedicated to this move, to making this happen.”

Since appearing in the fourth season of America’s Best Dance Crew (as part of the New York City crew Vogue Evolution), the Brooklyn-born, L.A.-based Wesley has been in high demand, thanks to his 21st-century interpretation of the ball scene. He’s collaborated with FKA Twigs on her Congregata tour — both dancing and chanting in his basso profundo — and hosts international events and competitions. It’s all part of an effort to educate people that the voguing world has evolved beyond its Paris Is Burning reference points.

“We used to keep ourselves sheltered because there was a stigma that existed — about our sexuality and our type of dance style,” says Wesley, who came out at 14 in 1998. “But that’s changed dramatically. I always had to explain who I was, but people didn’t understand. Now I get moms who say, ‘I appreciate what you’re doing, and if it weren’t for you, I couldn’t understand my child and who he is.’ It’s important to me that what I’m doing can also help someone else.”

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