David Yi is capable of mind-boggling physical stunts. He can hang sideways off of a pole, his body miraculously parallel to the ground. He can balance his entire weight on one hand as his legs do the splits in mid-air. And a backflip is hardly any trouble.
Yi, an accomplished breakdancer, is also an associate at Norton Rose Fulbright. And, in his view, dancers and lawyers share the same central character trait: perseverance. “In both law and breakdance, you learn by doing,” he says. “You may fail for months learning something new, but growth requires perseverance and embracing challenges as part of your craft.”
His love of dance stems from a difficult time. In the 12th grade, Yi’s mother passed away after a battle with leukemia. Breakdancing,which tapped into his interest in hip-hop music, became a lifeline. The intense training strengthened his body, while the concentration required to master the moves
distracted his mind.
At McMaster University, he was an avid dancer. In second year, he founded a breakdance club, and in his fourth year he joined the school’s Urban Dance Company, winning competitions and choreography awards. In law school, at the University of Toronto, he joined the Fo’Real Dance Crew, a top-ranked student ensemble. He’s also danced alongside semi-professional crews who have opened for major hip-hop artists, including Ludacris and Lupe Fiasco.
Yi has since slowed down, but he continues to dance in his spare time. In 2018, he performed at the Norton Rose holiday party, moving to the music of Gramatik, a Slovenian electronic artist. “Dance is a free-flowing expression of my personality,” he says. “When I’m lost in the music, my body takes over. No overthinking, no judgment. It’s just me and the beat.”
This story is from our Spring 2020 Issue.