On Google Plus, for no reason other than it seemed like a good idea at the time, I've started writing posts about dance videos on YouTube--either footage of events I've been to, or cool examples that I've seen other dancers posting elsewhere. It's a fun chance to introduce people to urban dance culture, as well as good mental practice.
In DC, and particularly as a part of Urban Artistry, I got used to seeing people switch between styles regularly--and in some cases to unexpected combinations, like African or waacking. Here, that seems less common: there's a lot of b-boys and a lot of dubstep poppers, and most of them stick to their particular specialty. Which is a shame, because I'm starting to realize, both from watching events live and on YouTube, that a great all-styles battle is pretty much my favorite kind.
What makes all-styles battles so great? I think it's a combination of factors:
Dancers often talk about movement as a conversation. But battling across styles, especially when all the participants have more than one skillset, is a great way to literalize that. Take this clip from Northwest Sweet 16 a few months ago, where both crews trade exchanges back and forth, often beginning their turn in one genre as a response and then transitioning to another as a challenge. It's a ridiculously good show from a group of talented Vancouver dancers.
I wish there were more jams like that. Just as outside the cypher, diverse workplaces have higher productivity, all-styles battles are great inspiration for dancers of all types. I'm trying to take that lesson to heart, and keep learning new dances (even ones I don't really like). A couple of weeks ago I took a class in waacking (best Wikipedia article ever). I have no hope of ever being good at it, but learning how its distinctive arm movements work gave me a ton of new ideas for strutting and locking (and it was a great workout). Specialization would have robbed me of that experience.
I'm always amazed by people who say that you should focus solely on a single style. Almost everywhere in my life, learning in one area has enriched and illuminated others, and dance is no exception. For that matter, if I weren't trying to stay open to new influences, I wouldn't have started b-boying in the first place. Whether you're a dancer, a writer, a coder, or whatever, it's almost always a good idea to take a moment once in a while and do something strange and uncomfortable. It might be inspiring, or a surprising mix with what you already know. You might like it.