We had the good fortune of connecting with Whylan Rucker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Whylan, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Natchez, Mississippi, but I was raised in Beaumont, Texas since the age of 5. I grew up in a 2 parent home with 2 older brothers, where my mom served as an educator/administrator, and my dad worked in the trucking field as a dispatcher. Naturally, as a passionate educator, my mom taught us the importance of excelling in school, staying active, and exploring different hobbies. My brothers and I participated in a wide-range of extracurricular actives in and out school; piano lessons, basketball, karate, gymnastics, cheer, dance etc. At home we read books, solved word search puzzle, played scrabble, and practiced geography on our world globe. This made me a straight A student, and an over-achiever to say the least.
In middle school, I went to Odom Academy as a pegasus student, where I took advanced classes, participated in dance, while being a 1st chair clarinet, and competing competitively in chair outside of school. I also I had an appendectomy on 9/11 that caused me to live in ICU for 3 weeks. I was still expected to complete my work, and live up to the standards of a pegasus student. That entire life experience taught me resiliency and how to overcome adversity.
After being in the hospital, my mom only allowed me to participate in onlyone activity, so I chose dance. I In high school, I became Co-captain of my dance team and a member of our dance company as a sophomore. I also attended dance at The Beaumont Ballet Theatre and Taylor Dance Studio simultaneously. I was often overlooked as a minority dancer, which made me have to work harder than the rest. Dance taught me the value of hard-work and true passion.
As the youngest of 3, I was able to look up to my brothers, which taught me adaptability; I did everything they did. I was a video-gamer, I ran outside, climbed trees, and I even wrestled with them. My oldest brother had the most influence on me because he was so musically inclined; he played the saxophone, he could sing, and he could also dance. It’s safe to say, my vibrant household is what has shaped shaped me to be who I am today. I’m goofy, empathetic, and very direct like my dad, overzealous , logical, and hardworking like my mom, and daring, observant, and charismatic like my siblings. My relationship with my immediate family is what made me this care-free, Harry Potter loving, extroverted girl that I am today.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m most proud of starting my own business/brand in the middle of a pandemic and watching it grow so rapidly in less than a year. I’m super excited to see how well business will do in the future.
I believe what sets me apart from others is I don’t believe in limits. I think my art is eclectic, diverse and unlimited. I use my experiences, my past dance training, and current situations to drive my art. I think my art is authentically creative, and I feel like my passion is unmatched.
I got here by staying true to who I am, what I wants and what I believe in. I knew I wanted to be a professional dancer. I knew I wanted to be a dance educator. I knew no matter what things would somehow be ht life that I would be living. I chose to teach because I was too scared to go to L.A. to pursue a dance career. So I taught English and Speech fro 4 years, prior to getting a job as a dance teacher. I interviewed for 2 years before I finally got hired to do what I love. I prayed nonstop until it became true.
As a first year director, I lead my team to an outstanding victory at their competitions. I also earned awards in Best win Choreography and Artistic Vision. This led me to believe that there was more to me than being a dance teacher/director. I finally gained the courage to train again, and eventually I got a chance to teach in the local dance community. My goal is to spread my passion and knowledge for dance and performing arts, with a focus on execution and performance quality. More importantly, I have the true desire to help dancers of all backgrounds understand WHY they love to dance. That is how I developed my brand, TheWhy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love to go to brunch on the weekends. Some of my favorite Brunch spots are Grace’s, State Fare, and Phil and Derek’s.
I also love to workout at Orangtheory Fitness.
I like to go out to different bars in the Midtown Area, Washington Ave, or a little hole int he wall, like the flat in Montrose.
After my dance class, I enjoy late night eatery at Katz Deli in the Heights or Present Company in Montrose.
I love to go listen to live music, and I love to do fine dining at restaurants like Eddie V’s or Trulucks.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
God- Honestly, I am able to see how God’s plan and purpose for my life was being laid out in front of me all along. I’ve grown in spirituality because I know that God has blessed me to be able to do what I love for a living, and I know that he will always have the answers, even when I don’t. I owe it all to HIM.
My parents.- They are unconditionally supportive, and they’ve encouraged me to continue on all of my endeavors, no matter or wild or unimaginable. I go to them for everything.
Sean Carmon – My dear friend Sean Carmon was the first teacher to really believe in me as a dancer, and it was inspiring to watch another minority pursue dance so passionately. He has seen so much success as a n Alvin Ailey Company member and a current cast member of the Lion King on Broadway. He still inspires me more than knows.
Family and Friends in general -I have a plethora of friend groups and each of them have played a role in my story. I couldn’t be here without the support of them along with my siblings and some of closest cousins.
Facebook: Whylan Rucker
Youtube: Whylan Rucker
Other: TikTok: whylo8
Michael T. Davis