“Have you seen the KPMG associate who makes dancing videos on YouTube?”, said a colleague of mine at my firm’s recent “Advisory University” training. I hadn’t, but soon enough I had—for a period of 20 minutes that zipped by like 2. It then occurred to me that the young man in the videos who glided on air—in the middle of a city, on a college campus, and even on a beach—was one of my colleagues. Until I had received my reply from the glider himself, my nerves were on alert in the anticipation that my random request for an interview would strike him as odd. I then opened my e-mail to find that Da Yin, an associate in KPMG advisory’s actuarial practice and the burgeoning YouTube icon himself, was happy to oblige to my request.
The premise of Yin’s YouTube videos is simple: he makes videos of himself performing a dance called “shuffling” in every state he visits and sets the video to heart-pumping electronic dance music. The dance form of shuffling (also known as the “Melbourne Shuffle”) originated in the 1980s with the rising popularity of electronic music, but soon become a popular dance at rock shows as well. Composed of intense heel and toe movements, the dance is at once effortless in appearance and incredibly difficult in practice. Says Yin, “There is so much friction on your feet because of the concrete, but your body needs to look like it’s gliding on ice.”
Yin’s project officially began in August 2013, in anticipation of the travel he knew he would undertake as a consultant. Equipped with neither a formal dance background nor a traditional teacher, he is 100% self-taught, with his primary form of inspiration and learning being from Russian YouTube shuffler T1M. “I remember that I just kept watching his videos because they were so cool. I thought, ‘I need to learn how to do this’”. And learn he did—he has since created videos in almost each state he has worked in, from the beaches of California to the middle of DisneyWorld in Florida. Yin is also self-taught in video editing, though he often employs friends and fellow KPMG colleagues to assist in shooting his videos. As for how he gets his game face on prior to recording, Yin has a simple rule: “Dance like no one’s watching”, he says adamantly.
Yin recalls the 972-mile drive he made from Madison, Wisconsin to New York City, including the Christmas Eve he spent trapped in a Pennsylvania snowstorm, and it’s clear that one of his outstanding qualities is his dedication to everything he does. The same dedication not only earned him a prestigious job in a dauntingly competitive position at KPMG, but kept his passion going in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. “I was working on a project for 15 hours a day, 22 days straight, and I still shot a video when I was on an engagement in Charlotte, North Carolina. I just drank some coffee and did it. It was after midnight at that point, but I knew I had to just do it.” What also sets him apart is his unique insight to his project. “As I expose myself to different faces, friends, and people, I am changing. My shuffling skills are improving and my age is increasing. As I continue making my videos, people will see the changes that occur.” For Yin, it’s a story of his life, a YouTube Bildungsroman, and the audience has the chance to grow with him.
Born in China, raised in Hong Kong, educated in Wisconsin, and currently working in New York, Yin has been instilled with a spirit of wanderlust and not only plans to making shuffling videos in all 50 states, but eventually plans to shuffle through the rest of the world. To keep up with his goals, he practices frequently at home and engages in rigorous exercise. “Since my freshman year, I’ve done marathons because they help strengthen your body. Shuffling is actually very intense and you need a lot of strength to do it.” Yin plans to run the Madison Mini-Marathon this upcoming August 16th, happily making the 972-mile journey back to Madison, Wisconsin to do so.
By the end of our conversation, I had learned about a young man successfully living out a dream steeped in passion, dedication, and personal growth. Yet when I asked him if he had any advice for those wishing to follow in his footsteps, he initially responded: “How am I in any position to advise? There is still so much I have to learn”. While I admired the humility, I was eventually able to procure an adage that anyone working at KPMG should ascribe to: “Work as a champion, play as a champion”. I’ll add another to that for good measure: dance as a champion.
Da Yin’s YouTube Channel can be found here.