Twin Nation Dance Company
Sanwone and Santae Benjamin
Written by Lillian Taylor
Get to know Charlotte’s inspirational twin dancers Sanwone and Santae Benjamin. The identical twins have made a name for themselves as Twin Nation’s movement influencers, who make it their goal to tell a story and encourage those who want to get out and ‘bust a move’. One popular question among many is, what sets these twins apart from one another when dancing? Sanwone mentions that he is most comfortable and excels in technique, while his brother Santae is a great freestyle dancer. “Combining those worlds together is what makes us unique as dancers”.
At the early age of two, the twins found themselves dancing up a storm in their childhood living room. “We would grow up watching Michael Jackson and coming up with routines at that early age”, Santae mentioned. “It was a struggle because our mom didn’t have money to take us to dance classes, so we would just create styles in the living room”. Once they hit the age of 12, they decided they wanted to take this passion seriously.
Following A Passion
They went through months of auditions and gained knowledge by learning from other choreographers. “It was a process and a learning experience,” Santae tells Level21, “It was hard in order to get to where we wanted to be in life, but you have to go through those struggles in order to learn”. Sanwone pointed out that learning from different companies and watching their styles was very helpful when trying to succeed in the business. Looking at other choreographers, especially their main source of inspiration Josh Smith, inspired them to keep going. Smith is the choreographer for all of Chris Brown’s videos and offered challenging classes that the Twins found helped them uncover their style today. “As humans it can be discouraging, but you have to be able to build yourself up. Having my brother was great because he would be right with me to help”.
In 2018-19 the twins underwent their first huge performance. “It was a lot! We did about four or five performances and got to see a lot of different people from all different walks of life”. The Twins shared how most audience members would display different forms of affection when watching the dances, “Some would hoop and holler, while others would stay completely silent during the show. Being able to experiencing new ways that different people enjoy performances was eye opening. It motivates us to always put our best performance out there”. Each performance for the twins is something special and allows them to grow and become closer as brothers. “Before each performance, we pray and have a handshake we do. It’s like a ‘you got served handshake’ with a little Lebron and Cam Newton shake combinations”.
Creating a Story
The Twins are more than just dancers. They are two brothers who use their passion to inspire their audiences with movement. When asked what their dancing does for people, they responded with words that left Level21 Mag speechless.
“We want to send a story to the audience. It’s bigger than just doing cool moves, it’s what separates us from other dancers.”
Make sure to check out their upcoming event, May 16 in New Jersey for their World of Dance performance. If you feel an urge to start learning how to move, the Twins are also offering hip hop classes to the public. “We like to build others up. We welcome people who have never danced before and offer one on one assistance. We make our classes feel more like a family environment.” The first class is coming up January 17th from 7:30pm to 9:30pm (EST) at Spirit Square. If you can’t make this one, don’t worry! They are offered every Friday same time, same place.