Sole180 offers message of hope, dance with area youth
Hip-hop artist Nestor Funelas has a vested interest in the youth of the Space Coast. He grew up in Palm Bay with nine siblings and developed an interest in hip-hop dancing as a teen.
When his father died unexpectedly, Funelas’ hip-hop lifestyle took a darker turn. After falling in with the wrong crowd, Funelas returned to his Christian faith with fervor. He decided to leave the area to pursue a career in acting and dance In New York City. That training eventually led him to Los Angeles.
“I traveled a lot. Saw a lot. Learned a lot,” Funelas said. “I met some great people and really got into the craft of hip-hop.”
During a concert in L.A., Funelas tore his ACL and it took several surgeries to correct. During the year of his recovery, he couldn’t walk, let alone dance.
Though his dancing days were put on hold, the injury was the catalyst Funelas needed to return home.
He came back to the Space Coast in 2012 and formed Sole180, a company that assists with choreography, writing, audio, staging, lighting, set building and actual performances for live-show productions. Sole180 also hosts classes and workshops in dancing and acting throughout the county.
Sole180 has 25 company members in addition to Funelas, some as young as 13 years old.
The most important work he says that he does, however, is with area youth.
“This is my hometown. I want to give back some of what I’ve learned,” Funelas said.
Sole180 works with the Brevard Cultural Alliance to perform shows for local at-risk youth that convey messages of positivity and confidence. Funelas also teaches dance and acting classes at a variety of local youth centers and studios, including at DOCK, the Dorcas Outreach Center for Kids, in Melbourne’s Booker T. Washington neighborhood.
Destinie Genao joined the Sole180 company when she was 15 after training in hip hop dance with Funelas for a few years before that. Now 17, she has performed in six productions with the group.
“It’s one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. It’s given me the chance to perform for a wide range of people and events. I’ve learned so much as a dancer, performer and person through my years with the group,” Genao said.
Performance opportunities aren’t the only ones that Sole180 is creating locally. Christian Normandia is the content creator and marketer of the productions put on by the company.
“‘The goal of Sole180 is to inspire others to chase their dreams, regardless of circumstance. If you show people a better way, then they have the chance to take it,” Normandia, 28, said.
As for the future, Funelas says Sole180 is just scratching the surface of Brevard’s potential.
“One thing I really want to start doing are original shows here,” Funelas said. “Shows that we create and perform in, shows with a message.”
Learn more at www.Sole180.com or the Facebook page, /Sole180.
As featured in our DIGITAL MAGAZINE.