Hello, it’s me again! Bboy “Rampage” Instructor at “Dynasty Breaking NYC” representing 5 Crew Dynasty!
Wow, what a crazy time we’re living in. I hope everyone is safe and healthy at home with your loved ones. I write this hoping to occupy your minds with an incredibly rich history of the youth within breaking, and quite possibly spark something interesting for you to read as we all endure such tough times. So here it is, “The Rise of Kids in the Breaking Community”.
Where did they come from?
Is it me, or has the breaking community been invaded by ridiculously talented, strong little monsters(and I mean that in the most amazing way possible) that we normally view as little children(I mean they're just kids right?)? It’s insane! Children of all ages performing incredible moves, dedicating their lives day and night to the art of breaking. It seems like it happened overnight, that all of a sudden the breaking community embellished itself with such an energy that only the youth can provide. When did this happen? Where did they come from? In this article I will be offering some insight as to where these talented little monsters came from, along with some history of the breaking scene and some of the young children who have come into the scene since the beginning of my breaking career. Enjoy!
I was only 13 years old when I started breaking. This is a pivotal time period for a child, a time period where kid’s start to take interest in activities that can affect their future. At the time I was transitioning from middle school to high school, and the sounds of mainstream radio danced in my headphones. In the early 2000’s Hip-Hop music was about the coolest thing you could listen too. I was drawn to it instantly. It was this natural attraction for Hip-Hop music and the release of the movie “You got served” that would spark the beginning of my breaking career. The timing was too perfect(some would say I was lucky or maybe even throw around words like destiny). On that summer day, 2001, at some theatre in Brooklyn N.Y. my life would change. The movie’s plot is about a dance crew that competes in street dance competitions for cash prizes and the respect of their peers. The choreography was cool, but what really stood out to me was the breaking! The Dynamic athletic movements, the super fresh style and movement I was instantly captivated! My best friend Nick(a.k.a bboy Mayhem) and I would spend hours trying to imitate the breaking we saw in the movie. The rest as we say is history(my personal history), but it plays an important role in our topic. So let’s move on shall we.
Getting down with 5 Crew Dynasty was amazing in so many ways, but one thing that I was truly proud of is that we were all just still kids. Our youngest member at the time was 12 and our oldest was 18, but the majority of our members were 15 and 16. At the time, NYC had only two other crews of teens and pre-teens. They were “Evolution crew(mentored by the legendary Breaks Kru), and “Swift-steps crew”(mentored by the much respected X-fenz and Supreme Beings). There were no other kids in NYC at the time. It was just us 3 crews, and we had no choice but to battle the adults of the NYC breaking scene who were much older, and much more experienced than us. The gap in skill level was obvious, but this didn’t stop younger kids from popping into the scene.
The first kids (not teens) I saw killing it were….
At the 30th Rocksteady Crew Anniversary I saw something that blew my mind. As I watched one battle come to an end, the emcee at the event called the next crew up to battle. “We need Curfew Breakers up next”. I thought to myself, “Curfew Breakers? I’ve never heard of this crew, but what a cool name”, but what I witnessed at the time was no ordinary crew, no, no no. The crew that stepped up to battle was a full team of 5 KIDS! I ain't talking about no teenager’s, I mean kids between the ages of 8-11, and they KILLED IT! I don't remember all of their names, but the two that stood out to me the most were a girl named Bgirl Simi and a boy named Bboy Neo (yes.... HE WAS THE ONE). Bgirl Simi had fresh footwork and a flavorful style! Bboy Neo was a tiny ball of energy. His crazy no-handed windmills were as fresh as the corn-rowed braids he wore on his head. I had never seen such high leveled moves performed by such a young kid. The crowd went wild with every round. By the way, this was 13 years ago(the beginning).
Now let us fast forward a bit. 2 years later. In 2008 a Youtube battle between two promising talents exploded onto the scene. An exhibition battle between two proteges was held at the legendary “Freestyle Session”, an event held in Los Angeles California. Bboy Lil Demon vs Bboy Jalen! These kids were on a completely different level. The battle was filled with Dynamic moves, fresh top rock, crazy musicality and so many lovable moments(I mean, they were two cute little kids going at it). This battle was a benchmark in what the future held for the youth in breaking. The only way to truly understand is to watch the battle for yourself. I’ve attached a link to the battle below, enjoy.
Click to watch - Lil Demon vs Jalen
Soon after this battle more and more kids exploded onto the dance scene. The Boogie Brats crew led by the legendary Kmel produced a group of kids(Prada-G, Krash, and L-Boogie) that each brought something unique to their self made kid squad. Here we started to see more of an increase in skill level as an entire crew rather than just individual dancers. They made a name for themselves at one of the most legendary international events “The Notorious IBE” (Which my crew 5 Crew Dynasty made quite an impression at, but that's for another blog) in 2009. Justen, a young bboy from the Hustle Kidz crew in The Netherlands, also came out during this time period. This fire cracker of a dancer fused high level moves with the natural flexibility that only the youth could provide. He was breaking on a level that adults had a hard time keeping up with. It truly was a beautiful beginning to an era where more youth would soon multiply in the breaking community, but what was the reason for the sudden surge of interest in kids who wanted to start breaking in the first place?
Did mainstream media influence kids?
In my opinion the release of dance movies and dance shows helped influence kids to want to learn how to dance resulting in a rise of kids interested in learning how to break. In 2006 the movie Step Up 1 came out. The movie featured a street style of dance mixed with classical dance styles and would introduce us to a new rising star in Hollywood “Channing Tatum”. Then in 2008 the sequel Step up 2 premiered, it featured a larger cast of Bboys, Bgirls and other street style dancers. That same year the now famous show “America’s Best Dance Crew“ premiered. The show highlighted dance crews who competed in front of 3 judges displaying their choreography and stunts which naturally included “you guessed it'' Breaking! The first season champions were the Jabbawockees. A Crew who mixed all-styles dancers and Bboys! The Jabbawockees now have their own show and store in Las Vegas. The Season 2 champions were a full on Bboy crew “Supercrew”! These movies and shows directly influenced so many people, especially kids to want to learn how to break, at least in the USA. Check out some clips from America's Best Dance crew below. In recent years, the popularity of social media outlets like Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, and now TikTok has given birth to a whole new generation of dancers. Videos of adults and kids breaking are shared globally on these platforms. These videos go viral daily and are able to reach kids everywhere at any time, inspiring them to learn. Inspiring them to dance.
Click to watch - Super Crew on America's Best Dance Crew
If there's one thing I hear from parents often it's something along the lines of “my children are so athletic, but they don’t like any sports activities I’ve put them in". Breaking is the natural remedy for the curiosity of a child who loves to explore the capabilities of their body, so these children feel right at home when they start breaking. They are able to work the creative portion of their brain while satisfying the physical endorphins that only a physical workout can provide. The athleticism of breaking has captivated our kids because let’s face it, spinning on your head and stopping yourself in a gravity defying pose is just...cool. Children naturally want to do something that looks cool and makes them feel empowered. They love to challenge themselves and breaking isn’t easy. In all my experience of teaching I've learned that kids want to push themselves to get to the next level in anything they are interested in. Breaking definitely provides that challenge. They work hard just to be able to build a sense of pride and say “yeah, I can do that".
Whatever the reason may be, the youth continues to carry the torch and evolve this art form that is breaking. (Speaking of torchesBreaking was included in the 2018 Youth Olympics and is on track to making its way into the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris! Bboy Bailrok of the Rocksteady crew, who started dancing as a young child, was the first bboy to win the hit television series “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 16. As you can see the youth of our bboy and bgirl generation is building on the foundation in which they have been taught, they will then pass the knowledge down to future generations to come, and take this artform of a dance to places never thought possible. So when you see a child breaking or a kid who has a passion for dance, welcome them into the breaking community with open arms(because we are all a part of the Hip-Hop community). Veteran dancers please pass down the knowledge as best you can and be the light to guide them to greatness.
“In learning you will teach, In teaching you will learn” - Phil Collins
Written by Stephen “Rampage” Difede & Edited by Anthony "Trix" Pacheco