The lights were flashing and the music was turned up. The music playing was unfamiliar and I could hear the beats emphasized in the song. I look around and see the break-dancers around me have formed a circle. Individually, they enter the middle to show off their moves. I will never forget my first attempt at dancing in this cypher. Out of nowhere, a guy makes his way to the middle and starts dancing. Eventually he makes his way to the ground and starts spinning. Everything is done smoothly and I’m in awe. The intimidation and intensity I felt became greater as he leaves the center. I knew that if I didn’t go in, I would regret it. So, I ran to the middle and performed the footwork I was so amazed by. I got to the floor and performed a baby freeze. At the end, that nervous feeling was long gone. All there was left to do, was smile and walk out.
That was my first time breakdancing at Ithaca bar, Lot 10. Breakdancing started as a dance form with the name “B-boying.” According to the “Foundation: B-boys, B-girls, And Hip- Hop Culture in New York,” B-boying began in the South Bronx in the early 1970s.
Jamaican-American DJ Kool Herc is responsible for developing the foundation of hip-hop music. DJ Kool Herc created hard funk music that later on influenced rapping.
The most common dance elements taught are Toprock, footwork, Power move and Freeze. Toprock is the showy display you start off with. Footwork is movement on the floor. Power move is break-dancers using speed, strength and control. Lastly my favorite is the freeze. This is when a break-dancer suspends off the ground using their upper body.
I first experienced b-boying during the spring of 2015. I joined the Ithaca College breakdancing club, Ground Up Crew. At the first practice, I struggled at learning the basic two-step. Everyone around me spinning and freezing intimidated me.
Professional breakdancers Wendell Bullen and Anthony Put said that breakdancing has played a big role in their lives.
“Through breakdancing I get peace of mind, I learn to work even harder for what I want and it is also my therapy,” Bullen said. “Breakdancing is important because it teaches you so much about yourself. Like it teaches you how to connect you mind, body and soul through practice and trial and error because you have to keep trying a new move out to perfect it and take it to another level and the moment you stop you have to start over from square one.”
Practicing over a long period of time makes dancing a routine in dancers’ lives.
“Being a B-boy is more than a dance, it has become a lifestyle,” Put said. “We have enough things in life that stress us. Dancing shouldn’t be one of those burdens.”
Whether it’s done professionally or for fun, dancing is meaningful to people. Imani Hall, president of Ground Up Crew, said, “Most people think of breakdancing as something flashy or powerful when it can be simple and intricate and still just as difficult as powerful moves. Breakdancing has helped me to find a community where I am judged mostly on my dance as opposed to my race, class and body shape.”
Hall added, “It has empowered me to be the best I can be at what I want to be good at. Stay disciplined and know what you want to get from hip hop but also be sure to give back to the hip hop culture and community.”
Senior member, Sabrina Knight, had a similar take on breakdancing. “Breakdancing is about developing your own style-whether it is a particular move or combination of moves,” she said.
Secretary Carolyn Hamaker said “I feel as though it has given me confidence. I never thought I would ever do a dance performance. But I did my first one last year at the one world concert and while I was super scared, it was also super exciting and I learned that performing was not too scary.” Carolyn believes “It also helps me push myself and gain confidence dancing in front of other people.”
Louis Medel said “Doing something with your body that you don’t think was possible, moving in ways your previously thought was impossible is a truly beautiful feeling. Dance because you love to dance, don’t try to impress anyone but yourself and don’t try to be better then anyone but yourself.”
Amanda Emmer is a sophomore integrated marketing communications major who loves breaking it down. You can email her at [email protected].