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At 68, Hip-Hop Dancer 'The Storm' in His Prime

At 68, 'The Storm' in His Dancing Prime
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DNAinfo/Jackie Kostek

LAKEVIEW— The Storm knows how to cut a rug.

At 68, Ralph “The Storm” Kissane is in his dancing prime — regularly performing with the old-school hip-hop cover band Too White Crew and appearing on NBC’s America’s Got Talent last year.

“I love to dance,” said Kissane. “If they start playing music right now, I’ll get at it. I’ll do it at McDonald’s, at the bank, all kinds of different places.”

Kissane said his dancing style is a mix of classic and contemporary — his moonwalk is all Michael Jackson, while his spins and smoothness bear resemblance to the moves of Usher and R&B singer Ne-Yo.

"The Storm brings something that no one's ever seen — a senior break-dancer," said John Cordogiannes, who started the Too White Crew and performs on stage as C-Note. "Between his legit get-up, moves and appearance, it raises so many questions."

“Everything I do on stage is actually from my dad,” said Kissane, who lives in suburban Carpentersville. “He’s older now, but he could flip, jump up in the air and moonwalk from here across the street.”

Kissane was born in Great Falls, Montana, where his father (who is Cherokee Indian) owned a Native American dance studio called The Storm.

“My sad is ‘The Storm,’ too,” said Kissane, with a laugh.

Kissane’s family moved to Carpentersville when he was young, and at just 12 years old, he started performing with other Chicago teenagers, and even made an appearance on John Lounsbury’s “Bandstand Matinee” show.

“We were getting 25 cents an hour,” said Kissane. “We would just do some samba and the rumba. I don’t do those anymore. I do the Michael and the Usher.”

Despite a lifelong love of dance, Kissane only recently began practicing regularly again after taking a midlife hiatus to focus on family and work. After getting divorced three years ago and retiring from house-painting, Kissane said he has had time to rediscover his moves.

“I move the coffee table, I got a good-size living room and I got a good size stereo,” said Kissane.

The 68-year-old said his favorite practice playlist includes “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5, “Scream” by Usher, “Get Down on It” by Kool and the Gang and a medley of Michael Jackson classics. He practices for more than an hour each day and “does the machines” at Cardinal Fitness three times a week to stay strong.

Although he doesn’t choreograph his performances, Kissane said he has about 20 go-to moves. During Too White Crew shows, Kissane joins other dancers on stage midshow for a freestyle dance-off.

“It’s a little scary, but I’m getting used to it now,” said Kissane. “I really want to get out there and do it. I just want to do the whole thing. I want to get every move.”

Cordogiannes said there is no greater audience reaction than when "The Storm" rushes on stage.

"Jaws drop, phones come out," said Cordogiannes.

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