It’s a B-Boy world

DUBAI — With unmatched synchrony and gravity-defying fluidity, the B-Boys (break-dancers) from Dubai have transformed the dance form from a relic of the ‘80s into a legitimate medium of expression. They have been participating and organising courses and competitions in the city to show their mettle.

By Praseeda Nair

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Published: Sun 20 Mar 2011, 9:36 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:23 AM

It may seem odd to see groups of teenagers reviving a dance form many would consider left over from the days when ‘old skool’ rap ruled the airwaves.

“Most of us met at ‘Family Fest’, a talent competition in our church,” B-Boy Ghosty said, referring to the members of his crew. The 17-year-old is somewhat of a celebrity in B-boy circles, having a fan-following of more than 300 people on his facebook page. “The rest of us met at parties and while freestyling at metro stations,” he added. Having participated in a wildly popular Indian dance show, Chak Dhoom Dhoom, in 2009, Ghosty found his niche in break-dance after meeting fellow-contemporary dancer, now known as B-Boy Skinny. “B-Boys are like nomads, we change our names and we change our groups all the time because growing into your B-boy identity is a kind of evolution,” B-Boy Skinny, a founding member of the Karama-based break-dance group, ‘Mysidia,’ said. “‘Mysidia’ means unity in Russian, and that’s where most of us are at right now, brought together by our common love for dancing,” the 18-year-old American College in Dubai student added.

The recently-formed crew consists of teens who have been dancing for years, although most of them are new to the break-dancing scene, admittedly having learned their moves off youtube. Eighteen-year-old B-Boy Soldier is better known for his accolades in contemporary dance, having won two separate dance competitions held in the UAE over the last two years.

“I have a background in jive and contemporary dance, but freestyling is the kind of dance form that just comes to you. It’s in your blood. Of course, it requires a lot of practice and hard work,” he said. From 19-year-old B-Boy Freak Kid who trained under celebrity dance coach Kevin Oliver, to B-Boy Suicide, who won second place in a nation-wide dance competition in Slovenia in 2009, the Karama-based group has a mix of well-established dancers with one thing on their mind — to make it big!

“I started dancing for fun, but once I was appreciated for it (winning a title in ‘Best in Slovenia 2009’), I felt like this is something I could see myself doing in the long-run,” B-Boy Suicide said.

“Still, studies are a priority. Even though all I want to do is practice every minute of the day, dancing is just a back-up plan,” the pragmatic American International School student added.

Although the scene in Dubai is dominated by high school students with a lot of time on their hands, break-dancing is not just for teenagers.

Youtube abounds with toddlers mastering spins and kicks. In Mysidia itself, the youngest (and arguably the cutest) member, B-Boy L’il Commander just turned 11. Yet he helps the team choreograph moves like a pro. On the other end of the age-spectrum, B-Boys well in their twenties rocked the scene a decade ago and still continue to do so.

Break-dancing aficionado B-Boy Krueger hails from the legendary ‘hood where it all began. The 27-year-old New York native juggles his two identities: his history as a B-Boy from the streets as well as his success as a field engineer, a career path that led him to Dubai two years ago.

“Obviously Dubai is very different from inner-city New York, but I think for the most part, Dubai’s multi-ethnic youth come from relatively conservative backgrounds. Hip-hop and b-boying represents a kind of escape into a world without restrictions where no one tells you that you’re wrong. My brothers and I turned to break-dancing as a way of getting out all our pent up frustrations. We couldn’t afford branded clothes — in fact, we couldn’t even afford brand-named cereal growing up.

So we’d have to do with hand-me-downs, which each of us would try to personalise. I had to fight to forge my own identity. I guess dancing helped me realise that I am good at something and I could make something of myself,” he said. Although pretty well-established and steadily growing, Dubai’s break-dancing scene is still nascent, with most of the B-Boy champions having less than two years of experience with the style, on average. In order for Dubai to thrive on the forefront of this new wave of break-dance, the groups need to do more than fashion urban street-wear out of generic clothes.

Incorporating storylines and elements of modern jazz, capoeira and martial arts into choreographed works could be one way B-Boys (and B-girls!) can command attention on the international scene.

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