Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Buddha Stretch was inﬂuenced by his dad Emilio Austin, Sr. His Dad danced as a youth and provided Stretch with discipline, inspiration, support and motivation, and remained by his side to guide him throughout his career. This foundation carries Stretch, a father himself, throughout his personal and professional career today. Stretch heavily impacted the dance world by bridging the gap between what was termed, Ol’ Skool and New Skool. His dance style, known as Freestyle Hip-Hop, draws from all aspects of Hip-Hop culture, music and dance. These moves during the early days of music videos helped to launch the popularity of dance in this medium, as well as live shows.
His ﬁrst video was with Eric B & Rakim, Eric B for President. He met the members of his ﬁrst dance crew, Mop Top, at a music video audition each one had booked for Diana Ross, Working Overtime. They began to hang out at New York’s night spot, The Tunnel, and later formed their crew. Stretch later formed a crew called Elite Force who appeared in documentaries, music videos, live shows and in countless projects overseas. His ﬁrst choreography job was for Joeski Love (Pee Wee Dance) and went on to work with the likes of Rosie Perez, Will Smith in the Men In Black and Miami videos; Michael Jackson’s Remember The Time video (his most memorable experience) and more. He was nominated for two MTV Awards for ‘Best Choreography’ for the Will Smith videos Men In Black, Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It, and Miami. Recent credits include choreography for Virgin recording artist Thalia (on Good Morning America), Aida, Tony Award Winner, Heather Headley, Hot ’97 Air Personality, Angie Martinez, and rapper Rah Diggah.
Stretch is no stranger to music. An MC and writer himself, he recorded an underground hit called It Don’t Matter by Ten Thieves and continues to make music today. His versatility is also displayed by his participation as a dancer and contributing choreographer for the Dance Theater crew Full Circle, and Co-Artistic Director of the Dance Theatre Company MiddleGround. His trend setting style keeps him in demand as a choreographer, dancer, teacher and performer. His passion for dance is exhibited every time you experience his work.
Stretch believes “music is the universal language; dance is its interpreter.”