Friday, July 25, 2008

B-boying with Canucks

Last Monday, I walked up the street from work and walked into a little dance studio, to take a beginner breakdancing class. I got there early, so I sat down and killed some time by crocheting, in my glasses and jeans.

People showed up in more elastic or loose clothes. Some of the others started stretching. Clearly, I wasn't prepared for this "beginner" class, with my big nerd glasses and jeans. To my relief, the class was very evenly split by gender. I love Toronto's diversity.

The instructor, who called himself "Dizzee," was exuding energy, because he just won a competition last weekend with one of the best Korean b-boy teams. Dizzee explained that real breakdancers call it "b-boying," not "breakdancing." He said he had been b-boying for about 14 years.

Dizzee was great, because he cared enough to talk a little bit about the history of breakdancing before we started learning any moves. He even explained how the different styles evolved from different regions. Brooklyn style has more poses, Queens demonstrates more poses, and the Latin influences added more fluidity to it. Today, he would teach us the Brooklyn style.

How great is it that I had to move from New York to Canada, to learn about a New York-based dance?

He started out pretty easy, with a basic side-to-side hop-step. He was pleased to see that the whole class was pretty good with rhythm. Then he had us throw in a drop to our knees on the last beat.

Then he actually taught us specific poses, explaining that b-boying was a lot about exuding confrontational confidence and stealing it from your b-boying opponent.

Pose #1: Picture the standard rapper pose, with the arms crossed, tilted head, and a laid-back furrowed brow or squinty eyes.

Pose #2: Stand with a wide stance and arms outstretched with the palms open. This is the more confrontational pose, as if to say, "So whatcha want!?" or "Bring it!"

Pose #3: Kneeling on one knee, with an arm loosely rested on the upper knee. It's propped up on one foot, not the ass, slightly upright but still relaxed. Like you just finished something and you're sayin. "That's right. I did that. And it was easy."

He said we should end every performance with one of these poses to make it look that much more powerful.

I am not the most competitive person, nor am I very confrontational. So maybe this was a good mental exercise for me. But mostly I was highly amused with the whole situation.

Then he basically taught us a basic shuffle, which is a lot like that Russian kick dance. Uh oh. I just saw an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," in which Nigel (a judge) commented on how impressed he was when the dancers pulled off those difficult Russian dance kicks. But... these were very physically fit, trained dancers. So.... how am I supposed to pull off these shuffle-kick moves?

We did a few of these, propped up on our hands. Then we tried it with just one hand. Then we alternated hands. Never have I sweat so badly... in my life!

Then he taught us how to turn this shuffle, by shifting to face the floor, like a push-up, while crossing your legs to the beat. First to the left, then to the right.

The a/c wasn't very good, so by the second break, I was about to pass out. I foolishly had no water with me, but I did take a swig of root beer that I had with me. I realized that my whole shirt was soaked in sweat! You have to realize, that I don't sweat much. I probably break a sweat mayyyybe 10 days out of the year. So the soaked shirt was a little shocking. And the sweat was fogging up my glasses, like the nerd that I am.

Toward the end, he had us try freezes. Basically you position your elbows toward your stomach and balance your whole body off the ground, held up on just your hands... and maybe your forehead. This is tricky for us ladies, because the boobs get in the way, even if they aren't even that big!

Then he taught us to do freezes on our sides. I started to get the hang of this, but my wrists felt like they were going to break off, and I didn't feel like smashing my face into my glasses, so I stopped. Aaaand I am old and feeble. Dizzee was very encouraging, saying we all seemed to be getting it. He said he was impressed, because it took him forever to accomplish his first freeze.

And then to be nice, he taught us the easiest freeze, in which you roll backward and prop your back up with your arms in a semi-headstand. Phew, I could handle that!

Finally, he had us use everything we learned, by practicing it all from beginning to end, like a BATTLE. He split us up on two sides of the room. One side went through all the moves first, and then we took our turn. I was thankful, because that meant I had a few minutes to regain some semblance of strength.

I tried to ignore my fatigue and fumbled through all the moves, with my jeans falling off and probably exposing my underpants (like a real b-boy, right!?!?). But I did do it to the beat and ended with the "bring it" pose. We high-fived our opponents and ended class. I ran out to catch the streetcar home, where I promptly returned to crocheting, quietly beatboxing under my breath, as the b-boy beat remained in my head.

I was relieved and amazed that I made it to the end of class! And it was painful, but it was also a lot of fun! Of course, I felt like a cripple the next day and it hurt to take any stairs for the next three days. We'll see if my muscles recover in time for next Monday's class. If I go again, I'll drop the glasses. But I will still be the nerdiest b-girl ever.

Ducky image by cool_colonia4711
Kitty image from The Fuzzy Squid.
Rapper kid image by monitorpop
So You Think You Can Dance from
Freeze image by Peter Tsai Photography

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Anonymous Marmi said...

I wish they would offer that at 24 Hour Fitness!

3:21 PM  

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