The minute Pierce Cady begins dancing on the set of our Kappa video shoot, all of his 6-foot-6-inches of exuberant, kinetic energy is confidently channeled into movement that is sometimes studiously controlled and at other times spontaneously raw. The dancer, who also models and acts, is thankful for the creative outlet of his chosen art form, which he didn’t embrace until his teenage years.

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Cady, who was born in San Francisco and moved to New York at age 11, didn’t discover the power of dance until he was 17. “I have Asperger syndrome, and high school was hard for me,” he explains candidly on set after the shoot. “I only had one friend, and he was a professional ballet dancer who convinced be to try out for ballet school at SAB [School of American Ballet]. They said I had a natural knack and gave me a full scholarship.” Soon after, he discovered hip-hop dancing and eventually left ballet school to explore it. It wasn’t long before the natural talent crashed a Beyoncé audition, where he got the gig and got signed. He’s since danced for the likes of Alicia Keys and Justin Beiber and started acting and modeling, too.

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“I think what’s made me stand out is the sensitive aspect of my dancing—I connect very emotionally to music and my movement follows. I think that makes it more relatable,” he explains. “Sometimes, dancers do things that nobody would ever actually do, but I like to keep the moves more literal—more raw.” Cady channels that approach into his choreography, teaching a style that emphasizes connecting to your own style of movement.

To showcase Kappa XO Barneys New York—an exclusive collaboration with the iconic sportswear brand—Cady choreographed a video based on his signature freestyle movements along with his mentee, Ethan Graham. “Any avenue where I’m allowed to be myself and express my artistic integrity is an honor, so this Barneys collaboration really excited me,” says Cady, adding that being a fan of the iconic, sporty-meets-streetwear brand was a major bonus.

For Cady, mentoring people like Graham and participating in projects like this are about more than just dance moves. “I want to influence people, not necessarily ‘in the right direction,’ but in the direction of themselves. I want people to be busy trying to be the next version of themselves. That’s how we will better the artistic community and humanity in general—focusing on bettering the person you are, so you can better other people too.”

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