February 16, 2005

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Breaking down breakdancing
Manchester to play host to breakdancing competition
By Richie Victorino  rvictorino@hippopress.com

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, breakdancing was as common on New York City streets as garbage.

Most of the garbage has since been picked up and, sadly, it seems that breakdancing has also vanished. No one spins on their head outside of a subway station. No one’s doing the windmill, stalls, the worm or walking on their hands.

It seems that breakdancing is dead.

But that’s not the case, according to Isaac Denham, who hosts a weekly drum and bass night at Milly’s Tavern. He said all that’s happened is breakdancers have abandoned the streets for more stable conditions.

“Breakdancing has been out of the mainstream, but over the past five years it’s been coming back,” Denham said. “[Fewer] people are doing it, but those who are have taken it off the streets.”

Instead, breakdancing crews seek out clubs and competitions across the country to perform at. And though breakdancing has roots in the ‘70s and ‘80s, breakdancing crews are learning to use modern tools, like the Internet, to promote themselves.

The sport
Breakdancing is a sport. That’s because there are competitions, it is a form of exercise and, yes, people get injured. In fact, there are stories of at least one person dying years ago from an attempted breakdancing move. Denham used to breakdance. But when he injured his wrist he hung up his high-tops for good.

“DJing is just too important for me,” he said.

Breakdancing can best be equated to skateboarding without the skateboard. People spin, jump and flail, with the hopes of not falling down and not looking stupid. When competing, falling down will lose you a lot of points.

Originality is also important.

“If you can do one sweet move, but you do it over and over again, that won’t win a competition,” Denham said.

There are plenty of existing moves out there, like the worm, the windmill and the headspin. But the more original the dancer is, the more points he’ll earn.

The music
Rap and hip-hop have always been the foundation for breakdancing. That hasn’t changed. Even Denham agrees with that. For his breakdance competition this month, Denham and fellow DJs will spin music heavily rooted in hip-hop. His music of choice, drum and bass, is heavily influenced by hip-hop to begin with.

Besides, “You can’t breakdance to the oldies,” Denham said. “As much as I love Frank Sinatra, I’m not about to headspin to him.”

The competition
Breakdancers are always competing with each other, whether it’s at a formal competition or in a friend’s basement.

“They’re showing off this acrobatic skill,” Denham said. “The basic point of breakdancing is you’re doing these acrobatic moves that are there to impress people.”

It’s like an MC battle without the words.

Denham’s upcoming breakdance competition boasts a $100 prize for first place, $50 for second place and $20 or a breakdancing DVD for third place.

The competition begins at 11 p.m. Dancers should come at 10:30 p.m. to register.

Denham is one of two judges overseeing the competition. He’ll judge on uniqueness, variety and energy. Dancers will dance by themselves to music spun by Denham and other DJs.

Denham suggests competitors wear loose clothing, and most breakdancers opt to wear sneakers. Some dancers break out kneepads and elbowpads, but that’s merely a preference.

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

Lay down the cardboard
What: Breakdance competition
Where: Milly’s Tavern, 500 Commerical St., Manchester, 625-4444.
When: Thursday, Feb. 23. Competition starts at 11 p.m., registration starts at 10:30 p.m.
Check out www.myspace.com/cbrekko for more on Denham’s drum and bass night, called Ignition.
What you’ll win: First place wins $100. Second place wins $50. Third place wins either $20 or a breakdancing DVD.
Learn the moves: Here are some helpful places that can help you get your groove on like a professional: Start off with the 80s movies Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2 Electric Boogaloo. Check your local video rental store, or go to www.fast-rewind.com/break to get it.
Also check out www.howtobreakdance.com for a number of videos you can buy or pick up Breakdance Step-by-Step, a DVD you can pick up at places like Amazon.com.