Student Artist of the Month: Will Meisel

photo: Catherine Curran-Groome

photo: Catherine Curran-Groome

Will Meisel ’14 is a breakdancer and DJ. Dancing is a large part of life in the Meisel household, as he and his three brothers practice a variety of dances. Meisel’s passion for the hip-hop culture has led to his love for breakdancing, keeping him dedicated to practicing over several years. Although Meisel does not plan to develop a breakdancing career, his passion has lead to the creation of his own DJ company. This fall, Meisel plans to attend Rutgers Business School at New Brunswick, where he’ll remain involved with his company and dancing.

1.) How did you get introduced into dancing? Did you know from the start that you wanted to be a break dancer?

I got introduced to dancing through the [Johnson Park Elementary School] immigration night in fourth or fifth grade, but I really picked [it] up during eighth and ninth grade. The other dances looked cool, but I wanted something that looked kind of insane. I didn’t really know that I wanted to breakdance—I just did it, and it worked out that way.

2.) Have you ever considered going into dancing as a career?

Once in a while, I’ll dance at bar mitzvahs and be a motivator, but no, not really as a career. There’s not a whole lot of money in break dancing, and I don’t really want to do other styles of dance. Hip-hop’s okay, but I’m more [into] break dancing.

3.) Is there any correlation with your passion for dancing and DJing?

The reason why I started DJing is [that] there are four elements to hip-hop, and I love hip-hop culture. [There’s] rapping–which is emceeing–graffiti, DJing, and b-boying–which is break dancing–and I wanted to do it all. I picked it up when I was in Atlanta, so freshmen year, I bought myself a $150 setup, and then I came back to Princeton and worked here to get enough money to upgrade my stuff and start my own company.

4.) With all the work you’ve put into making yourself known as a DJ and a dancer, do you still consider it to be just a hobby?

Yeah, I’m not making a complete living off of it. I make a good amount of money DJing, but almost all of it goes back into buying new equipment.

5.) How does having brothers who dance inspire you to develop your skills?

[In all actuality], I was the one that really pursued breakdancing. My brothers got more into hip-hop, but when I was introduced to breakdancing, they only knew one or two moves. I just kept working to try to figure out new moves and now, [one of] my brothers [is] dancing in college at Mason Gross [School of the Arts at Rutgers University].

6.) What are some of your most memorable moments with dancing or DJing?

For dancing, it was probably when I was in eighth grade; I got a boom box and I went out in Princeton and started dancing on the streets. I threw out a hat and got some money. [Also], I danced at a pep rally at my school in Atlanta, and that was pretty fun. I can’t remember one of my most memorable times DJing.

7.) Do you prefer the attention of an audience or the vibe of a smaller group?

For DJing, I love the attention of a bigger group, but for dancing, I just like dancing. I love practicing dancing, [but] performing in front of other people, for the sake of performing is something else and I don’t really like that. But if I’m dancing or I hear music and I want to dance, [because] I want to dance, I like doing that. Not necessarily performing for people, more out of interest.

8.) How would you describe yourself and what you do?

The way I’d … describe myself is an instigator. When I DJ, I take people’s energy and I [like to] think I make it last. And for some people, or for some gigs, I’m the person that starts it. I have complete control over the crowd [on] some days. If I don’t mix something right, the crowd notices, or when I mix stuff right, [the crowd] might not necessarily notice, but at the end of the day, they’ll tell you that the party was a lot different than it would’ve been if there had not been music. Then for dancing … I like encouraging people to dance, whether it be any style of dance, just being loose and on the ground.