Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Anthony “AntBoogie” Rue II has been an innovative leader in the entertainment industry. After founding the AmountBoyz and touring with Madonna, AntBoogie set his sights on training the next generation of dancers by starting Urban Dance League. We got the chance to speak with the fashion-forward entrepreneur to learn more about his experiences and what it takes to be a successful working artist.
What was your dance training like growing up?
My introduction to dance was very interesting. One day, I wanted to avoid math class so I took a chance on a dance class with National Dance Institute. This organization—founded by New York City Ballet Principal Jacques d’Amboise—offers dance instruction to thousands of New York City public school children each year. They invited me to join their program and that was the beginning of my life in dance. During the year, we focused on free movement, choreography, and performance. Over the summer, we learned ballet, tap and jazz.
When did you begin auditioning and training?
I started taking dance classes with National Dance Institute around nine or ten years old, and began auditioning for professional work around sixteen.
Can you tell us about Urban Dance League?
Urban Dance League (UDL) is a professional sports league of organized street-dance competitions, classes, and showcases based on the idea that “Dancers are Athletes.” UDL presents professional dancing in the same arena as the professional sports and athletic world. Sports, by
definition, are all forms of competitive physical activity, which through casual or organized participation aim to use, maintain, or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. To be a professional dancer is to do and be all of these things. Dancers train for years while investing countless hours training in sessions, classes, and rehearsals. They hone their craft, exercise all physical capabilities, and sometimes defy them by pushing past the limits of the human body. Dancers withstand injuries and endure both treatment and rehabilitation.
What qualities do you look for when hiring dancers?
Each job is different, so it depends on what project I’m working on. The dancers that are sure of themselves stand out to me; not over-the-top arrogant dancers, but someone who has that look in their eyes telling me they’re ready to work. The ability to freestyle is also very important to me. I want someone who isn’t intimidated to move freely, not someone who just does tricks. I also look for dancers that are in great shape. I think being in shape shows discipline and dedication, which are qualities everyone respects.
How would you tell dancers to prepare for UDL tryouts?
A great way to prepare for an Urban Dance League tryout is to watch footage of our previous games. You can get a feel of the different styles coaches throw at players. Come ready to dance with everything you’ve got, and leave all fears outside once you step on the floor.
Do you have any upcoming events you want people to know about?
The next UDL tryouts will be Sunday, September 28 at Broadway Dance Center. The final battle for the UDL competition on BET’s 106 & Park is September 29.
You are one of the founding members of the AmountBoyz. How would you say the group impacted the dance community?
Most of the group was formed in LaGuardia High School (the “Fame” School). While in school, we toured and performed on shows like Soul Train, TRL, The Ricki Lake Show, The Jenny Jones Show, 106 & Park. People loved the way we danced, and we started to generate a huge following. It was new to see a group of guys at that age at our level.
Many dancers today still come up to me and tell me about the first time they saw the AmountBoyz perform on TV—how it made them want to start dancing and move to NYC. It gave dancers a group to look up to before dance shows were popular. There was no social media or websites to host your videos for free. We had to pay for bandwidth to allow people to see our talent.
Our dedication to being the best and to each other inspired many. To this day, you can’t find many groups that stick together as long as we have. Our resume as a group is extensive. To say people wouldn’t believe how much work came from the AmountBoyz would be an understatement. Our 20th anniversary will be in 2016.
What advice do you have for people who are trying to start their own dance companies?
The first thing they should figure out is the goal of the company. If you’re paying taxes on your company, then you need to have a real plan for what you want to do. If you are looking to display your work, I would form a group first before investing money into creating a company. Dance companies need dancers that are dedicated. Without dedicated dancers, your work will not be able to form into something profitable.
I originally went to Madonna’s audition to hang out with her choreographers, Rich and Tone Talauega. After seeing their routine, I was ready to dance. I wasn’t signed in, but they asked me to jump in and try out the choreography. Rich and Tone are some of the best people to work with, so I did what they said! And the rest is history.
I was given the opportunity to travel the world and dance at the age of 25. I also got to choreograph my two solos with Madonna. This was a great time in my life. I believe it’s still the highest selling tour to date, so you can imagine the amount of people we performed in front of every night. You needed to be super focused on her stage, because it was very dangerous. If you didn’t pay attention to moving parts of the stage, you could lose a body part or your life. I learned a great deal about responsibility and being held accountable as not just a dancer, but also an adult.
We know that you’re also a rapper and MC! How does your music differ from other music out there now?
I don’t like most of the Hip-Hop music being created today. It’s very negative and only plays to one side of our culture. My music is different because I love dance. My energy and musical choices reflect that love of dance.
What are the steps to producing and recording a mix-tape?
The key things you want to have when creating a mix-tape are a good quality microphone and studio. The music cannot sound like you recorded it on your Casio. I would recommend hiring a producer who is also an engineer so that he can equalize and master your recordings. Hire a great artist to create your cover art. Research which blogs and websites cater to your sound, and send them a digital copy.
If a movie were produced about your life, who would play you and why?
I’m 32 but look younger, so I would probably have to find someone who could dance, rap, and look young at the same time. I’m not sure who I could get. I don’t think there is any actor that could pull off the size of the stars on my head.
What do you think has been the most challenging obstacle you’ve had to face in this industry?
I run into my biggest problems when working with people that don’t understand the value of what I do. A lot of the industry does not respect our craft. That is one reason why I created Urban Dance League. I wanted to create a business that would force the market to value our craft. Somebody has to get their hands dirty, and plant seeds to make some changes. So I backed away from gigs, because at the end of the day, my gigs didn’t do anything for the next generation of performers. What I have done for dancers in two years with Urban Dance League is more impressive to me than anything on my resume.
Any other projects you have in the works that dancers should know about?
I have a couple videos and performances coming up with Urban Dance League. If they would like to stay connected with us, they can visit our website UrbanDanceLeague.com.