all words: Mitchell London all photos: Kevin Carroll and Mitchell London
Consider the things that you do well: e.g. making pancakes on Sunday mornings, green-belt level Sudoku, seasons 1-8 Simpsons trivia.
Now consider the things you do poorly: mathematics, hiding disdain for reality TV around Bravonamorous loved ones, keeping track of billable hours.
Consider finally the things that you could never do, even if not doing them meant that Shia LaBouf would star in another 10 remakes of vital childhood memories.
For me, breakdancing falls in category three.
To say that I’m impressed with people who can breakdance would be the same as saying that Rocky likes Emily. Rocky loves Emily, people, and for me, watching a 10 year old bust a windmill or a fully-red-jumpsuited twentysomething backflip spread-eagle, grabbing his genitals like his mother forgot the first, most cardinal rule of parenting*… these things fire a long-neglected synapse deep in the recesses of my brain.
It’s like watching Saturday morning cartoons on ten bowls of frosted flakes and two Jolts. It’s like watching a Pollock painting anthropomorphized, set aflame and made to dance. It is both exhilarating and befuddling. That these b-boys and b-girls who walk among us, holding down ordinary jobs and acting as students in ordinary classrooms, can, at the drop of a breakbeat perform these physics-defying stunts with nothing more than their bodies is beyond my ability process facts.
Take, for example, the runners up in the competition, the “Shaq and Kobe of B-boying.” The comparison to the basketball players that their name substantiates could be seen even without the title: Shaq was a physical force on the dancefloor, commanding big moves and asserting himself at every opportunity. Kobe’s work looked to be the product of years of refinement and honing. Breaking has progressed to the point where each dancer has the opportunity to truly define him or herself on the dance floor. No one displayed that more than the winning group, Toyz and Fleg. Like a cat, Toyz warmed up each set like he was playing with its food. Then, maintaining the same spirit of good cheer, Toyz flips the switch, which, like all good switches, only has two modes: ”off” and “blitzkrieg.”
If Disney animators could accurately depict what is happening in that tornado that appears on screen whenever the Tasmanian devil starts up, my guess is that it would look a lot like Toyz’s legs. Fleg, who was just casually participating as a vacation from his main job as DJ, served as a respectable Scotty Pippin, a master of consistency and fundamentals.
The event, put together by the good people at Words, Beats, and Life (www.wblinc.org), was a high energy party where all ages and talent-levels felt. In addition to the cutthroat competition, the event featured several hours of freestyle fun, where breakers formed impromptu circles, busted moves, and exchanged tips. With Fleg, RBI, OSO Fresh and Scratch Master K providing the soundtrack and Nemisis presiding as Master of Ceremonies, the whole thing felt like a block party. A block party where everyone is mind-bogglingly good at dancing.
*Rule 1: Don’t grab your privates in public. Rule 2: Share.
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