Once again we found ourselves wrapped in inspiration from the dancing of Miss Marie "Poppins" Bonnevay. Her art form is not only captivating but incredibly refreshing to see a young French woman take street dance by storm. She's a dancer, choreographer, commercial director, model, and actress insisting on making her journey authentic and beautiful. Join us as we explore the gigantic dance world of Miss Marie "Poppins"!
Where are you from and where do you reside?
I am French and currently live in Los Angeles.
What style of dance do you do and how would you explain it to someone who doesn’t dance?
I do street dance in general and my main style within street dance is popping. My second style is voguing. Popping is the art of contracting your muscles on the beats with a groove and your own authenticity. I also do other cousin styles such as tutting, waving, animation, and robot. These styles are so unique and as a dancer you always want to improve.
How do you improve your technique and style? Is it self taught or are coaches available?
It’s very self taught. The beauty of street dance is black culture. I want to mention that because it’s very important. Street style was developed from the black community in different parts of the US. New York had Hip Hop, Voguing, Litefeet and so on. California was more Popping, Locking, and Waacking. All of these were created in street environments or clubs, coming from people having good times, sharing knowledge, and developing movements. These were not dances created in studios. They have a lot of power, expression, and authenticity.
For me, the best way to express them is “come as you are”. Come as you are and then you learn foundation and technique that has been developed over the years by people who created them by hanging out. That’s the beauty of it! Me as a guest in this culture, I first learn the journey of the people who created the dance and then I apply it to who I am. I’m a French girl, coming from France moving to America with my love for music and dance.
We’d love to know, does Marie drink coffee or tea?
I have my coffee with me right now! I’m a big heavy coffee drinker but I’m trying to switch to matcha. That’s been my challenge because I drink too much coffee. I drink my coffee black, nothing with it. I don’t like to add anything to it. I don’t really like Starbucks with all the sugar added. I love the smell of coffee.
As a French person that loves food and drinks, it has something very symbolic to me. The smell can send you back to a time with family and specific moments. I love matcha because it gives me the same boost but doesn’t have the smell that brings you back to Costa Rica, where I actually went and loved it! Every morning when I miss my family, I have that moment of connection to them with coffee.
You are a multi-talent! Not only can you dance, but you're a woman of many looks who can act. Is this something that evolved naturally or did you decide to be versatile for more opportunities?
I think a dancer is a natural actor because we express with our body what we can’t express with discussions, so emotions will come out. I think any dancer learning the skill of acting can make it develop into something else. I'm actually a baby beginner in acting right now taking classes. Sometimes I think how I approach things is listening to my instinct. I ask myself, “how did I approach dance?”. I approached it in an unusual way. I don’t have a contemporary or ballet background. I wasn’t really good in dance classes. The way I taught myself was by making it my own journey and it paid off. I feel like acting is the same. You learn foundation and technique as you would for any style. You then need to figure out how to approach it, dig deeper, and then make it your own to keep it unique.
What’s next for Marie Poppins? What are your upcoming projects?
I really want to push in becoming a creative director, choreographer, and movement coach. As much as I love for myself to dance, I want now to be able to give direction to singers. I would love to see a major singer do some popping moves on stage. I want to be able to incorporate this style that is so powerful for me on people. I want to creatively direct projects incorporating more street dancing the right way so the culture is not exploited.
Of course I would like to get more involved with acting and also fashion brands. Sometimes I do modeling gigs and I think the fashion industry should include more street dance too.
One thing we’re not used to doing in ballroom is “dance battle”. When watching your opponent in a battle, what goes on in your head? Are you purely observing, watching but really thinking of what you’ll do next, or a little of both?
I would study the mood they were in. It’s a real energy thing! You feel the energy of the other person. When I used to battle, my energy was really intense. With time, I realized battling is an improvised contest. A battle is the art of mastering your intuition and freestyle. There’s no control, you can’t control, otherwise it would be choreography. You can’t control how you’re going to feel at that moment, with that music at a specific second.
I realized I have to respect my opponent and their feeling at that moment. I can’t copy them. There’s no way to copy how they feel the music. There’s no way to copy authenticity. I watched them, embraced and received what they were giving. I took their energy as fuel for my round. With that, I gave my whole self with what technique I can do in that specific moment. It’s almost like meditation. I see how I can connect with the beat, audience, DJ, host, and my body. It’s very deep.
Before I battle, I always look at my environment by looking at the lights, the people and asking certain questions. Where are the people that love you? Where are my friends? Are you by yourself? Is the host in a good mood? Do you hear the sound well? How’s the floor? How do I feel in my feet? And then you leave it to God, the universe and magic. This was more of my approach towards the end. This all comes with maturity. First you want to make your name, prove yourself, smoke the other person, and beat them. As you get more mature you realize it’s not a sport but an art form despite a battle having a sport approach.
What piece of advice would you offer aspiring artists?
It’s your journey! No one else will ever understand what you’re going through. Just make it beautiful and listen to your intuition.
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Dancing Ox Coffee drink pairing: Indonesia Sumatra Triple Pick