PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — O’Shae Sibley came to Philadanco! as a teenage up-and-comer, a standout from a North Philadelphia rec center dance class whose instructor saw his potential.
Members of the organization, whose full name is the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts, are now mourning Sibley after he was fatally stabbed Saturday in.
The founder of Philadanco!, Joan Myers Brown, shared with CBS News Philadelphia the story of how Sibley got his start at the organization’s training companies as a teen.
“We gave him a scholarship when he was 14, and he stayed around till I’m sure he was 22, 23 before he left,” Brown said. “We introduced him to modern dance, classical ballet, and he just absorbed it all. He just wanted to dance.”
Brown says Sibley became one of the few male dancers in the Danco 2 Division.
“We didn’t have many boys in Danco 2 so he got a lot of responsibility and he held his own. He was the shining star in the group,” Brown said.
The 28-year-old moved from Philadelphia to New York to pursue his dance career and also dance with Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre.
On Saturday, police say he was returning from the beach. Surveillance video at a Brooklyn gas station shows Sibley with his friends.
Investigators say he got into a heated argument with a man spewing homophobic slurs. The dancer was then stabbed in the chest and later died.
“He was friendly, he was warm; he was welcoming, he was a person that could deflate an argument, so, this is a total surprise to me because I know O’Shea would not start a fight.”
Beyoncé paid tribute to Sibley on her website. He was vogueing to her music at the gas station in which the NYPD are now investigating as a possible hate crime.
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph also posted on Twitter.
Police are still searching for Sibley’s killer.
Meanwhile, his Philadelphia dance family prays for justice.
“We want this to be a continuous support of everybody being equal, everybody having the same opportunities,” Brown said. “Everybody having the right to live their lives.”
Philadanco! started an online fundraiser to help with funeral costs.