Moving Visions

THE DANCE ENTHUSIAST ASKS: Yvonne H. Chow and Porshia A. Derival, Our Moving Visions 2023 Editors

THE DANCE ENTHUSIAST ASKS: Yvonne H. Chow and Porshia A. Derival, Our Moving Visions 2023 Editors
Porshia A. Derival

By Porshia A. Derival
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Published on April 16, 2023
Yvonne Chow and Porshia Derival; photo courtesy of AK47 Division

Yvonne H. Chow

Moving Visions Editor, Yvonne H. Chow
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Meet The Dream Team Behind H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory!

H+ | The Hip Hop Dance Conservatory, which is celebrating its 33rd anniversary in May 2023, has always been on The Dance Enthusiast's radar. Seeing as 2023 is the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop, we were brainstorming on ways to feature the monumental, multi-platformed group more extensively — at least this was our thinking pre-pandemic.

And then lockdowns hit. Dance and dancers were put on pause (or full stop), and many were unable to make a living. While scrolling through Instagram one day, I noticed a plethora of  animated and colorful posts showing Porshia A. Derival and Yvonne H. Chow, both H+ Hip Hop  Executive Directors, dancing around in the aisles of supermarkets, playing with produce. How does one not take note of two glamorous women exuding joy and style in a grocery store during a global pandemic? The duo were gathering healthy food staples and other necessities to provide the in-need arts community with free groceries. I was an instant fan.

Derival and Chow work tirelessly at uniting businesses, brands and non-profit-orgs, introducing the art of Hip Hop to the community, and bringing food security, economic security, race, and gender to the fore. We are proud to highlight the stories and vision of this dynamic duo as part of our MOVING VISIONS 2023 editorship program. #getenthused — Christine Jowers, Founding Editor

Some years ago, Porshia A. Derival and Yvonne H. Chow were heading to an event, dressed to the nines, when a female onlooker exclaimed, “You two are like Kanye and Jay-Z!” This exclamation has been with The Dream Team to this day. 

Since 2011, the Aries (Porshia) and Leo (Yvonne) combo have been traipsing New York City, going from the United Nations to corporate offices, and SoHo boutiques to late night parties. It’s hard not to get inspired by the two fire signs, who give off an energy of perseverance, and complement each other. How did the synergy begin, and what magic are The Dance Enthusiast's Moving Visions editors conjuring for dancers these days? 

Porshia A. Derival, Executive Director of H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory

Let’s start in 2011, with Yvonne’s first impression of Porshia:

Yvonne Chow: I felt like she had a hard exterior but a soft interior. I remember her coming into one of our rehearsals at DANY Studios, and we stepped outside for a conversation that really solidified how parallel we were. Porshia graduated from Syracuse University with a double major in Women’s Studies and African American Studies. And I had graduated from New York University with an individualized major that surrounded race, gender, and sexuality in Hip-Hop Dance. And we both wanted to do something besides the traditional professional dance career route. I knew right then and there we would be an unstoppable force.

In the coming years, Porshia and Yvonne, along with their executive team, would go on to produce The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory’s advocacy campaigns exploring themes of being women of color in Hip-Hop Dance. One campaign in particular titled Exotic Temptation (the 2016 edition of Think Smart. Love Free.) allowed both to bond in unimaginable ways. Watch the video here.

Yvonne H. Chow, multihyphenate at H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory and Founder of House of Chow

On the contrary, what were Porshia’s first impressions of Yvonne?

Porshia A. Derival : The moment I met Yvonne, I could tell that she was very intentional about what she was doing. I saw it in the way she spoke about her work, and how she showed up in different spaces. Our first date was at Saigon Market — I had only been in the company for a couple months. I saw this as a moment where you wanted to get to know each other outside of the work environment. I remember we spent a good amount of energy trying to understand one another. She introduced me to her cultural background — I'd never had Vietnamese food before — as culture and food are significant to her.

Yvonne: Yeah, I think most first experiences with me typically involve Vietnamese food. Sorry, not sorry! #UnapologeticallyAsian! [Laughs]

Porshia A. Derival and Yvonne H. Chow at an event by The Nestseekers NYC launch party; photo courtesy of AK47 Division

What was your first night out on the town like? 

Porshia: In 2013, we went to The Nestseekers event at Marquee Nightclub. I had borrowed a great jumpsuit from my roommate to wear. When we met at the event, I remember you [Yvonne] asking me if I had any lipstick, and to help you spruce up a bit. 

Yvonne: I think I realized that I hadn’t fully arrived in my look once I saw everyone lined up outside the club. Porshia has always been really good at helping me define my look.

Porshia: I don’t recall the vibes at the event, but it was "so white"  and so outside of our financial class that we just made a pact to stick together. We were super green in this area. I remember  us making sure we had each other’s backs as we navigated men in the world of real estate.

Porshia A. Derival and Yvonne H. Chow dressed to the nines for The Bessies; photo courtesy of the artists

When did you know you were the ultimate Dream Team? 

Porshia: At the Adidas Originals store in SoHo in 2013. 

Yvonne: It wasn’t intentional. We were literally going in to look for new uniforms, as H+ rehearses in Adidas pants. 

Porshia: We both looked at each other and just knew that we needed to throw a party there.

Yvonne: So we just asked on the spot how we could collaborate to make this happen, and they immediately gave us a contact at corporate. The rest was history! 

Porshia: You need someone who is a 'possibilities person' — it's an important quality. They can see endless possibilities, multiple possibilities, with different entities. They  step forward and make those possibilities work. And it takes a level of getting over yourself. And trusting in the other person to ride the journey with you. It’s why the success is there, because we’re 'possibilities people.' If one of us falls into an “I don’t know” slump, the other person can help pull them back out into possibilities. 

Yvonne: That’s a trust unlike any other.

[In 2013, Porshia and Yvonne led their executive team in hosting the launch party of You Belong Here, where they also announced H+’s prospectus for the next 25 years to community leaders and stakeholders. Watch the recap film here.]


What’s next for The Dream Team?

Yvonne Chow: Porshia is in high demand! She’s literally being asked to speak somewhere every week.  Let me brag on your behalf: The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), Think Like A Boss, Dance/NYC, and the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) have all reached out. Oh, and not to mention that she hosted The Bessies Awards Reception 2022 looking absolutely glamorous! People better book her like a year in advance! 

Porshia A. Derival: After a decade at H+, I’ve been able to amass a lot of my experiences and knowledge, and to share that with not just the dance community, but also the Caribbean community (I’m Trinidadian and Haitian), the entrepreneur community, and more. It’s really nice to see that what I’ve learned at the conservatory has allowed me to make an impact on so many audiences. [You can catch Porshia at the St. James Joy party dancing her a** off.] Can I just mention that Yvonne has been on a choreographic kick?

Yvonne: After three years of incubating during the pandemic, my artistic mind is incredibly fired up and ready!

Porshia: Yvonne hit the ground running assistant choreographing for Nai Ni Chen Dance Company’s piece combining Lion Dance and Hip-Hop Dance. She then premiered her own company’s work, #UnapologeticallyAsian at the AAPI Dance Festival at APAP 2023. Then they were invited to present again at The Estrogenius Festival 2023! 

And of course fundraising is at the top of the priority list. House of Chow, the Asian Division of H+, is producing the #UnapologeticallyAsian Gala in August 2023, so stay tuned, because this is going to be the hottest party for Asians and those that advocate for Asians!

Yvonne: Yeah we need that hong bao (Mandarin for “red envelope” or a gift of money).

Porshia: And of course, you are going to see us serving our community and partying hard outside this summer at Doorstep DanceMart.

[Doorstep DanceMart® is H+’s dancer-run, grocery supplementation program conceived by Philanthropist Safi A. Thomas and launched in 2015. Dancers are invited to a free, live-DJed, dance party complete with prepared food, groceries, health and wellness products, a fashion station, and more: RSVP here.]

Yvonne: We also have some new and interesting collaborations coming up with TOTEM Productions (H+'s production company), but we can’t say too much about it right now. You’ll hear about it soon enough! 

[TOTEM Productions just produced The 2022 Bessies Awards Reception, and has worked with The Rundown with Robin Thede, the United Nations, Kaporal Jeans, and more]

[The energy between the two colleagues, friends, and co-conspirators is more than palpable. Their bond is cloaked in a mist of nostalgia from all the incredible memories they have built together in their Black and Asian solidarity. Neither is the other's sidekick; both hold their own and constantly dance in and out of supporting each other’s individual endeavors, all while striving to uphold H+’s mission of Dance Sustainability®.]


In The Dance Enthusiast's MOVING VISIONS program, we welcome artists and enthusiasts to guide our coverage as guest editors, asking that they share their passion, expertise, and curiosity with us, as we celebrate their accomplishments and viewpoints. This is part 1 of a four-part series that will be steered by Yvonne H. Chow and Porshia A. Derival.

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