Do YOUR Dance about finding your passion, pursuing it

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An earlier version of this story said Lindsey Lerner was in the process of finding a venue to host a Phantom D.Y.D show in R.I. on Jan. 10. It has now been confirmed that Phantom will perform a D.Y.D show along with Dougie Kent and Jbre at Olives, 108 North Main St., Providence on Saturday, Jan. 10. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., show starts at 9. Tickets are $10 if purchased by contacting Lindsey at (401) 215-6533. Tickets may also be purchased for $11.54 by clicking here. Ages are girls 18+ and guys 21+. The original story appears below.

You may not be familiar with the acronym D.Y.D, or the concept of Do YOUR Dance, but you soon will if Lindsey Lerner has anything to say about it.

Lerner, a senior at Bryant University who grew up in Warwick, is doing everything she can to spread the D.Y.D message. It’s a message of positivity that was born out of a unique set of circumstances and a special friendship between Lerner and a man by the name of Phil Terry, a.k.a. Phil “Phantom” Terry.

The origin of D.Y.D took place in the fall of 2013 in a country south of the equator.

“I was staying in Chile through the Bryant International Studies Abroad program,” Lerner said. “I didn’t know any Spanish at the time.”

Staying with a host family that initially couldn’t understand her, in a land far from home and all things familiar, Lerner was clearly out of her comfort zone. Little did she know at the time, she was in the middle of a journey to finding herself, who she is and what she wants to do.

“I transferred to Bryant from art school in Delaware,” said Lerner, who was attending Delaware College of Art and Design to study photography.

“I decided in sixth grade that I wanted to be a photographer and started harassing my teachers,” she said.

Lerner eventually landed an internship at the Warwick Beacon, where she says she continued to “harass” those around her in an effort to learn as much as she could about photography.

Lerner took what she learned to Delaware and put it to use photographing homeless people on the streets of Philadelphia. It wasn’t easy at first.

“After the first day, all I wanted to do was go back home to Governor Francis,” she said.

But she persevered. Lerner is tenacious that way.

“I got comfortable talking to the homeless people that I was photographing in Philly,” she said.

Learning how to adapt and get comfortable in uncomfortable surroundings would come in handy later when Lerner found herself thousands of miles from home surrounded by people that didn’t understand her and whose language she couldn’t yet speak.

And then she met Terry, who not only was a fan of hip hop music, but also wrote and performed his own songs as Phantom.

“I made friends with another study abroad student who was from Ohio,” she said. “He was into hip hop. We hit it off right away and started bouncing ideas off each other.”

Lerner explained, “Phil started D.Y.D - Do Your Dance in high school and performed under that for a while, but when we got together I came up with the idea and the educational aspect of Do YOUR Dance, the whole going out there and making something happen movement!”

Lerner said Do YOUR Dance is about people going out and finding their passion and following it.

“It’s not about making money or being scared, but about taking a risk and doing what you’re passionate about,” she said. “Go do what you’re passionate about and do it well, that’s the message.”

Lerner said that message could be found in Phantom’s music.

“Phil’s music has a concrete base in D.Y.D, spreading the message that you can do anything, that change is possible if you want it to happen,” she said.

Working together to spread the D.Y.D message throughout Chile, Lerner was able to book a show for Phantom to perform at a local club.

“I had no background in promoting; I had a background in door-to-door sales of office supplies,” Lerner said. “But through that show, we started meeting other club owners.”

Lerner said she and Terry were fortunate that sons and daughters of host families of students they were studying with were club promoters.

“One of our friends, her host brother was a club promoter and he helped us out a lot,” she said. “So we set up a club tour, which was super fun. We had a good time.”

Lerner said music is embedded in Chilean culture, which helped when it came to encountering the language barrier.

“Even though we couldn’t express what we wanted to say in Spanish, we could connect with them through music,” she said.

That was helped due in part to Phantom’s music, which utilizes classical jazz music overlayed with a hip hop beat to create a different sound, “all along the lines of D.Y.D and doing your own thing!”

Lerner said there have been many changes to D.Y.D's music since she and Terry started working together.

“The new album, ‘D.Y.D,’ is going to be released and on iTunes at the beginning of the summer,” she said. “A majority of that music will be able to be played on actual instruments.”

Lerner said every song has some sort of D.Y.D theme linked to it, such as motivation, passion, determination, or focus.

“Our thought process is that people spend so much time listening to music with different and sometimes negative messages that if we can start pumping their headphones with these sort of messages, it'll really get people in the mindset of D.Y.D,” she said.

Lerner said she and Terry have created a program to bring an educational D.Y.D concert to middle school and high school students.

“I worked at the Boys and Girls Club last summer and discovered that if you try to sit kids down and get them to listen; they don’t want any part of it,” Lerner said. “We want to put kids in a situation where they're open to listening to us and then we want them to tell us their stories of what they want to do and what they’re going to do to make sure they reach their goal.”

Lerner continued, “When you have a goal, a lot of times it can be hard to reach and people often give up.”

Lerner said you shouldn’t be afraid to fail.

“I learn more from when I fail than when I’m successful,” she said. “It’s about learning and figuring out what you want to do; if you go through that process over and over again, you’ll figure it out.”

That’s how Lerner became one of the few, if not the only, students set to graduate at Bryant with a Global Studies Cultural Interaction track.

“Bryant has a strong reputation as a business university, but they are doing their best to branch out into liberal arts and sciences,” she said. “It's actually pretty cool what they do. They have all of their business students minor in arts and sciences and all of their arts and science students minor in business.”

Lerner said while there may be other Global Studies students at Bryant, they have a political or economical track that is more business-oriented.

“Most of my classes that are not for my business minor focus on anthropology or ethnography and then from there, I work my photography into them,” she said.

Expanding on that, Lerner created a self-directed study called Anthropology of the Music Industry, where she turned D.Y.D into a total learning experience with the help of her professor, Alex Perullo.

“I chose global studies because I wanted to take my photo knowledge and apply it anthropologically,” she said. “I wanted to do something that combines photography, music, and anthropology. It took me thousands of miles to figure out that I can do this and that I want to do this.”

In an effort to bring the D.Y.D message to as many people as possible through Phantom’s energetic hip hop beats, Lerner has taken Phil on as her client and is working hard to book shows for him under Lindsey Lerner Artist Development.

“There are three steps to D.Y.D: 1. Find your passion, 2. Follow it through, and 3. Tell us about it – the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Lerner said. “We want people to go out and experience what they want to do and then tell us about it.”

Down the line, Lerner envisions having a website to provide a place to collect that feedback. For now, the D.Y.D Facebook page – Facebook.com/D.Y.DDoYOURDance – is a place where people can download D.Y.D music and post their stories of "How they D.Y.D!"

Lerner would ultimately like to take portraits of people and together with their D.Y.D story, put them into a book as a way to get the message out there even more.

Phantom will be in Rhode Island from Jan. 9 to Jan. 11, 2015. And while Lerner is still trying to pin down a venue to host a Phantom D.Y.D show on Jan. 10, she isn’t letting it get her down.

“No means a new opportunity to me,” she said.

Lerner said she and Terry are also trying to find ways to fund D.Y.D, including setting up a Kickstarter campaign to launch in May, as well as applying for grants.

“We are going to be launching the Kickstarter campaign in May once we graduate for two reasons. 1. We want to be able to devote all of our time to it and balancing classes, school work, real work, rowing [Lerner is a Crew team member at Bryant], families and managing Phil, I won't be able to do that until May,” she said. “2. The Kickstarter will only be live for 30 days. This way if it is done and successful by June, we have enough time throughout the summer to gather all of our materials and create the school tour. The idea is that the money raised will go to all educational materials, marketing, promotion and travel expenses so that the first five to 10 schools that we tour, it is no cost to them at all.”

In the meantime, Lerner has been successful in setting up a special visit at Hasbro Children’s Hospital on Jan. 9.

“To go in there for a couple hours and get kids’ minds off whatever it is they’re dealing with would be beneficial,” she said. “Seeing a little kid that has nothing smile … that’s it, that’s everything.”

One of the best examples of Do YOUR Dance herself, Lerner summed it up, saying, “A lot of people have their passion as a hobby and ‘what they have to do’ as a job, but if people took their passion that’s off to the side and put it in front of them, they would be happier.”

If you would like to learn more about Do YOUR Dance or are interested in booking Phantom for a school visit or a performance, contact Lindsey Lerner at LLerner@bryant.edu or DoYOURDanceDYD@gmail.com. To listen to D.Y.D music, visit reverbnation.com/DYD.

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