Without any formal hip hop training, Demi Sorono rose to fame in 2008, capturing national audiences in So You Think You Can Dance!
Now an established b-boyer, Demi has brought her show ‘Shadow Warrior’ to Nowra, and will perform at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre on Saturday at 8pm.
Her life now is a world away from her life as a child.
Demi’s family migrated to Australia from the Phillipines when she was seven years old, in 1987.
“I am fortunate to have an Australian father who sponsored us to come to Australia in 1987,” Demi said.
“(In the Phillipines) I lived a poor life, my family didn't have much money, I was raised by a single mum who had four kids and worked four jobs to feed us.
“My older brother who was 10 at the time went out hunting for food to get by.
“I lead a very different life now. I’m very, very blessed to be here.”
Demi’s mum inspired her show, Shadow Warrior.
“My mum can HIP, HOP, I got my dancing from my mum,” she said.
“We didn’t have much money so we decided to entertain her with dancing as kids, we used to fight over who was better, and get dressed up.
“I’m very close with my mum, she’s a very strong woman considering she said, ‘yes’ to this stranger and risked her life to come here.
“The show I’m doing includes stories about her, I’m hoping that strength filters through to me.”
Dancing was my outlet, I could escape from that pain, it healed me a lot, it helped me to forgive those people that hurt meDemi Sorono
Self-doubt crept in during the two-week intensive training phase before appearing on So You Think You Can Dance!
“I struggled with doubts,” Demi said.
“I’m a self taught dancer, I taught myself how to do breaking, and all the dancers I’d been competing with had been trained professionally.
“There were two weeks of hardcore learning how to do jazz, contemporary, other forms of dance.
“For me routines and choreography were the worst thing.
“Even still when I’m teaching, I’m like, ‘what’s that step again?’ ‘Cause I’m a freestyler.”
Demi survived trauma in her childhood and youth, and dance has been the greatest source of empowerment in her life.
“Life isn’t always going to be rosy,” she said.
“During my childhood and growing up, I went through some hard stuff that affected me a lot, I went through depression, had a lot of suicidal thoughts, I was traumatised, and on many occasions I thought, ‘I actually don't wanna be here.
“Dancing was my outlet, I could escape from that pain, it healed me a lot, it helped me to forgive those people that hurt me.”
Now she’s touring and teaching, she’s able to use dance to tell her story.
I’m very, very blessed to be hereDemi Sorono
Demi always believed she was capable of a performance-based career, and trained hard to achieve that dream.
“In an interview with a friend, I said, ‘b-boying is going to take me places,’” she said.
“It put it out there, I trained really hard, then, boom, all of a sudden I ended up being on the TV show.”
As a little girl Demi idolised child star, Shirley Temple (1928-2014), Hollywood's number one box-office draw in the mid 1930s.
“I thought she was the most amazing kid, a little girl who could tap, sing and dance, she’s adorable,” Demi said.
“I was obsessed with her, I thought, ‘I wanna be like that.’”