Breaking the norms to find yourself

Ryan McLean, a.k.a. BopN Gadget.  Photo: Charese Weatherbee.
Ryan McLean, a.k.a. BopN Gadget.
Photo: Charese Weatherbee.

You may think that anyone travelling to Sun Peaks, or choosing to live here, has done so to pursue their passion for winter sports, but you’d be wrong if you assumed that’s why Grade 12 student Ryan McLean did so. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a snowboarder and came here to take advantage of everything this mountain has to offer, but he also moved to Sun Peaks to take advantage of the freedom the mountain’s high school program offers — allowing him to pursue his true passion, dance.

McLean is a self-proclaimed outsider who found dance to be the community in which he belongs. Having been intrigued by dance at a young age, McLean had no interest in choreography but rather in the basics of movement.

“My parents suggested I go to a studio, but that wasn’t the same to me. There’s nothing wrong with choreography, nothing wrong with studios, but I just really wanted to learn how to dance, and express myself,” he explains.

And so McLean fell into the hip hop dance scene. His first teacher Kenny, a member of the Now or Never Bboy crew who performed at the 2010 Olympic closing ceremonies, taught him the basics of hip hop. From there, McLean picked up popping from AJ, a.k.a Megaman, from the Heavy Hittaz crew which lead him to the inventor of bopping — Boppin Andre.

“I got introduced to the right people at the right time. I learned from the people that were the source, they invented the moves, or I learned from people who learned straight from the source,” says McLean. “I’ve been really privileged in that manner and I’m really thankful for that.”

Ryan-PulloutMcLean, a.k.a. BopN Gadget in the dance community, is now bringing his passion for dance to Sun Peaks. As part of the curriculum in his final year of high school, McLean is teaching the other high school students some of the basics of hip hop dancing, hoping to inspire his fellow classmates.

While in Sun Peaks he has also found a way to hone his photography skills through Gemma Harris and Alpine Images, who, according to McLean, has taken time out of her busy schedule to teach him the basics of capturing a moment in an image.

Coming to Sun Peaks has helped McLean step back from the constricting stereotypes common in the high school culture and further express himself both through dance and photography. Looking to the future he hopes to teach a few dance classes next year and travel, capturing moments with his camera on the way. Meanwhile, he intends to travel to California and Las Vegas with his mentor this summer, following his passion for dance.

“(When I was younger) I wanted to be a normal kid, but then I realized once I got older that being different is the best thing you can be because that’s being you. Having your own interests is who you are,” explains McLean. “Being yourself and being different isn’t a bad thing, sometimes it’s the best thing, because in the end, you’re the one who has to live with yourself. Would you rather pretend to be someone you’re not or would you rather be yourself?”