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Lucia Matzke: Connecting Through Dance

Lucia Matzke has been twirling and leaping since she was a little girl. But when she was introduced to krump dancing, her whole world turned upside down. Sharing this daring artform is now her greatest joy and passion, channeling her body and her emotions.

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This story was produced by Joy Smith with sound design and mixing by Reel Audiobooks. It was written by Abby Sher. Fact-checking by Joe Rhatigan. Narration by Natasha Soudek. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Thank you to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this podcast possible. Stay rebel!

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Once upon a time there was a girl with a lot of emotions who was searching for a way to express them. Her name was Lucia Matzke.

Lucia grew up in Berlin, Germany and was the youngest of three sisters. She was often surrounded by family or friends, running around her neighborhood or making up silly dances to the Backstreet Boys. But when Lucia was alone, she felt overwhelmed by her feelings. She didn’t know how to make sense of them all. If she yelled or cried, her mom told her to please calm down. But Lucia’s dad actually smiled and told her to be as loud as she needed to be. He was proud of her for knowing what her feelings were and being able to reflect on them.

When Lucia was thirteen, she went to a youth club in her neighborhood that offered dance classes for very little money. Stepping onto those smooth wooden floors and following her teachers’ moves felt magical. Lucia was so excited about being part of this creative community, learning traditional dances; watching her body get stronger and more graceful.

She practiced diligently so she could remember her choreography. She kept at it for almost ten years, honing her skills and memorizing each move. Until one day, when she walked into a new kind of dance class and her whole world turned upside down. And sideways. Zigging and zagging, twirling and lunging, every movement a wild expression of intense emotion.

What is this? Lucia wondered.

It was a combination of freestyle, hip hop and krump. Krump is a style of street dancing with a lot of expressive, energetic movements. Lucia was mesmerized by everything going on in this dance studio. She’d never seen bodies move like this, with so much openness and vulnerability. 

She began studying and practicing this form of dance, jotting down her thoughts in a little notebook to remember what she was learning. 

After two years, Lucia’s hip hop and krump teacher told her she was really good and now she needed to take her dance even further.

Instead of performing combinations she’d seen, he challenged her to create variations on these techniques, making them truly her own. She’d been dancing for a decade, but now she felt like she had to start over, so she could learn how to tell her own story through movement.

She and a few friends started going to the dance studio on Sundays when it was closed so they could get in more practice time. They experimented and dared themselves to move in new ways. It was very scary and awkward at first, but slowly, Lucia started to feel more and more connected to her body. She felt those emotions that used to flood and overwhelm her start flowing through her arms, legs, fingertips and heart.

Now a professional Krump dancer and coach, Lucia travels to different countries bringing freestyle and Krump with her. She studies various cultures, languages and religions as she travels. She also creates dance-related projects for kids who normally can’t afford lessons. She  loves the way these expressive dance styles open up so much confidence and communication. Even if her students don’t understand each other’s words, they can connect through a shared language of dance.

There is a phrase in hiphop — “each one teach one”. This means that each dancer should try to give back to the community so these dance styles can continue on. This is how Lucia lives her life — helping more and more people enjoy this form of self-expression.

“It’s more than just moving the body,” Lucia says. “It’s a spiritual journey, drawing out your truth and making each move personalized.” 

Even as she speaks these words, Lucia’s body is in motion. Her arms, legs, and huge smile channeling her feelings of joy; radiating light and love for all.