Popping, locking and breaking at the Galle Fort

Saturday, 5 October 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  •  Red Bull BC One All Stars take Sri Lankan B-Boy talent to the next level
By David Ebert POPPING, locking, breaking; these are all terms that describe one of the twentieth century’s most unique and flamboyantly artistic street dance styles, “Breaking”. Created on the streets of New York City’s Bronx, it gave the city’s gang member kids a medium that allowed them to express each gang’s individual style, with each gang boasting their own “crew” of DJs, MCs and “taggers” that battled it out against rival gangs for street cred and dance supremacy. This was the birth of the “Break Boys” or “B-Boys”. Coined by old school hip hop innovator, Jamaican DJ Kool Herc, the term was used to describe the dancers he would see in the clubs who would wait for the breaks in each track to play to unleash their selection of out of this world dance moves. It was best described by dance legend Robert ‘Crazy Legs’ Colon, the original B-Boy and President of the renowned Rocksteady Crew, who famously explained the hierarchy within the whole Hip Hop subculture at the time: “B-Boying is the bastard child of Hip Hop. Graffiti is the black sheep. Djing is the loyal child who always does what he is told. Rap is the spoilt brat who is actually the youngest of the four.” Sri Lanka in recent times has seen the emergence of the B-Boy culture, with the younger generation recognising the opportunity for true expression through an alternative dance culture that still very much is in its infancy. Red Bull recently brought Sri Lanka’s best B-Boys together to meet with some of the world’s best B-Boys champions for a series of dance workshops that culminated in a glittering Red Bull BC One “dance-off” competition between the final 16 competitors held at the picturesque Galle Fort, to choose and crown the country’s next B-Boy King. The BC One All Stars, consisting of current and twice Red Bull BC One champion Lilou from France, Brazilian champion Pelezinho, San Franciso native and current officiating Red Bull BC One champion Roxrite and Korean B-Boy powerhouse and 2008 champion Wing, were the judges at the competition that saw Sri Lanka’s B-Boy aficionados flock to Galle for the event. From the outset it was mayhem on the dance floor. Eighteen B-Boys displaying eighteen different styles and energy danced off against each other for two places in the final round, but it was clearly evident from the start who it was going to be. Nipuna Chamara Madushan and reigning champion Philip Joel Peter, two friends from the same B-Boy crew, shone brightest throughout the preliminary rounds. With a mix of acrobatic floor work, footwork, locking and popping, it was a close tussle throughout three rounds of the finals, which ended up in a draw, which meant an extra deciding round. However, it was last year’s champion Philip Joel Peter who once again showed why he is considered the best B-Boy in the country. As judge Roxrite explained to the Weekend FT: “He showed great sense and ability, keeping his combinations to the beat and with the flow of the music. It wasn’t just a mix of random jumps, spins and footwork.” Offerinh his thoughts on what Sri Lankan B-Boys need to do to get to the standard required to compete internationally Roxrite said: “They are still very inexperienced. The only way they can get better is to keep practicing at what they’re doing. That’s all it is about.” Speaking on his win, Joel revealed that the challenges weren’t only restricted to his fellow competitors: “When I came for the competition I had a bit of a big knee injury and I couldn’t even bend my right leg. Two or three days before the competition I thought I wouldn’t be able to battle but at the last moment I was able to bend it a little bit so most of the time I danced mainly with my left leg. Even when doing my footwork I was using my left leg. On winning against a friend and crew member Joel said: “He is a crew member of mine who practices with me and is a really good B-Boy and he gave me a good challenge and up to the last moment I didn’t know what the decision would be. It was a big surprise.” Ten years on, the Red Bull BC One competition looks the most coveted prize in the B-Boying world. With the competition in only its second year in Sri Lanka, the future of the country’s B-Boy talent looks to have some hope. With the right training and guidance as experienced this time around, I look forward to seeing one of our very own Sri Lankan B-Boys up there on stage some day at the World Finals. Pix courtesy Red Bull