And Gilbert has done just that, as former competitive dancer Charisse Giangreco contends. Giangreco has taken Gilbert’s classes for over a year; he even choreographed her wedding. Gilbert has helped her regain her footing as she came back from years away from dance.
“I love Chris’ classes because it’s not just regimented choreography – there’s always a storytelling component,” Giangreco says. “Because of that, I’m not scared to dance again … and I know I can open up and be vulnerable.”
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In addition to inspiring students at his dance classes, Gilbert is a member of the popular band New Age Narcissism and a life coach, while also working with Milwaukee Public Schools students to help show them their potential. For him, hip-hop is far more than a dance form – it’s a means of instilling confidence and opening up his students’ potential, especially for his younger pupils.
“I was once right in their spot, living in a neighborhood where no one expects you to live past 18,” Gilbert says. “I can show them that that doesn’t [have to] be their path. And I think the work I’m doing … in Milwaukee really shows that you don’t have to go somewhere else like L.A. to make it big – you can build a legacy right here in this city.”