6 Top Breakers on How to Own a Dance Battle
Your opponent is staring you down. Your reputation is on the line. You've entered the ring at a break-dancing battle—and it's time to work. But what makes a successful battler? We asked some A-list breakers for their tips on how to battle like a champion.
Longka "M-Pact" Lor
"In a battle, you actually have four opponents: the person in front of you, the judges, the audience, and yourself. And you are your main opponent—you have to understand yourself. That's the hardest part. In breaking, there's a certain set way of doing foundational movements, but being willing to step outside of what's usually done is what gets you noticed. You have to find the way your body best executes each movement, because everyone has different body mechanics. And you can't fear making mistakes. Mistakes turn into originality. Take the moves you stumble into and use them."
Longkue "VillN" Lor
Longkue "VillN" Lor (photo by Robert K. Lim, courtesy Lor)
"The best breakers make things look easy. And a lot of that is about stamina and endurance. Breaking is such a physically demanding dance form. You have to be able to go three to five rounds without dropping your energy. There are also battle tactics to consider. You have to think, 'How could I make this person look like he's not at my level?' You have to create a character that no one can step on."
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia (photo by Yu Wadee, courtesy Garcia)
"This is a male-dominated field, created by men, and often judged by men. When I first started as a b-girl, I wanted to hide my womanhood. But as I grew up, I learned to embrace it. When I judge battles today, I'm looking for the female competitor who owns her femininity. Wear the tight pants, wear the lipstick, throw a kiss—or be aggressive, if that's more your style! Just don't be afraid to be you."
Antonio "Kid Black" Smith
"When I first started, people would say to wait to start battling until you've earned your place in the scene, but I disagree. Jump into it, soak up the culture, and get a feel for the atmosphere, no matter how new you are to the form. Never be afraid to show what you've got, regardless of skill level. And know that it's not always about winning. I enter battles to inspire and to represent my style. Sometimes that means more dancing and fewer point-earning stunts. I know I'm going to have a harder time winning if I dance more, but who cares? I'm there to represent and to show that breaking is a valuable culture, with or without the competition."
Marie "Quenn Mary" Slavova
"Battling is a game. If you know how to play it, it can be quite interesting. People who take it too seriously are forgetting that it's still a performance art—that the point is to share our craft with an audience, so that they can enjoy it. It's kind of like old-school boxing. The people who earn a place in history, like Muhammad Ali, are the ones who enjoy being in the battle. They make audiences see how interesting it can be. They put smiles on our faces."
Tadd Gadduang (photo by isa Tucker, courtesy Gadduang)
"It all comes down to grit and perseverance. Everything about this art is intense: the moves, the training, the culture, the persona, what a b-boy represents. It takes a strong attitude to succeed, and not every just anyone can handle the rigor. You're going to practice a move 100 times and mess it up 99 times. Then repeat. But that's the beauty of the form: It doesn't just teach you cool stunts. It pushes you to persevere in the real world.
A version of this story appeared in the February 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Battle Ready."
Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."
"Whole, low-fat, or skim?" The question of which milk to drink has gotten a little more complicated lately, with a wide variety of nondairy milks popping up in grocery stores. To find out which ones are worth your milk money, we had registered dietitian Monika Saigal answer some FAQs.
Yesterday, the dance community was heartbroken to learn that Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran, both 14-year-old dancers, were among the 17 people killed on Valentine's Day in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
American Ballet Theatre principal Sarah Lane charms audiences with her bright energy and crisp technique. The San Francisco, CA, native first started dancing at age 4 at a local community center, and at age 7 started training in Memphis, TN, at the Classical Ballet Memphis. Her family later moved to Rochester, NY, where she continued studying at the Draper Center for Dance Education. In 2002, she was a YoungArts Foundation winner in dance, allowing her to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2003, was made a soloist in 2007, and was promoted to principal last fall. Recently, she originated the role of Princess Praline in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Catch her later this spring during ABT's Metropolitan Opera season. —Courtney Bowers
You and I both know that dancing is the best thing since chocolate chip cookies! But its always nice when dance gets the recognition it deserves from non–dance-world peeps. That's why we did our own happy dance when we saw Shape magazine's article on how dancing can actually make you a better athlete.
When Ruby Castro became a Top 10 finalist on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 13, she was a fresh, feisty new face to most at-home viewers. But in the dance world—particularly on the ballroom circuit—Ruby was already a household name. Miami-based Ruby grew up as a belle of the ballroom: Her parents, Manny and Lory Castro, are veritable superstars of the scene. They're the owners of Dance Town, an ultra-competitive studio in Doral, FL, and raised Ruby to follow in their furiously fast footsteps. Before she graced the "SYT" stage, Ruby had already been named a U.S. Junior Champion in Latin Ballroom, and competed on "America's Got Talent"—twice!
So, we know she's talented, we know she's versatile, we know she's stunning, and we know she can dance. But here's what you may not know about Ruby.
You know that thing when you're onstage at a competition and you catch your teacher unconsciously marking through every step of the choreography in the wings, just willing you and the rest of the group to dance perfectly?
Yeah—that happens in ice dancing, too. Case in point: the scene at the Olympic rink yesterday, as Canadian ice-dancing legends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated their way to their third Olympic gold.
Obviously, their performance was all kinds of epic. But the off-ice "performance" given by their coach, Marie-France Dubreuil, was EVERYTHING.
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I want to dance in a ballet company, but I'm insecure about my body. I'm not skinny, and I don't think I ever will be, because that's just not the way I'm built. Please be honest with me: If I don't have the traditional ballet body, do I have a future in professional ballet?