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March 29, 2010

Filed under: music»performance»dance

The Plan

Soon after I started taking b-boying classes, I gave myself a goal: in October 2010, I'm going to enter DC's Crafty Bastards 2 vs. 2 battle and try not to make a total idiot of myself. It's a low bar, and I've got about six months to meet it.

At that point, I'll have been breaking for just over a year. I'll need to be able to do a pretty good toprock set, drop, run through some reasonably fluent footwork, and either incorporate or end with some kind of freeze. Right now, I've got maybe half of that, and even that half needs work. So here's the Plan:

  • Regular practice: Now that's it's warm enough, I need to be building endurance, particularly for footwork, where I currently last about 20 seconds and then collapse in a sweaty mass. That means I need to be dancing more. So every morning when the weather is nice, before I get ready for work, I'm heading down to the park to do drills for fifteen or twenty minutes, working up to hopefully a full hour by October. This is in addition to my Wednesday practice, Thursday class, and Sunday open practice at the studio.
  • Speaking of footwork, it's arguably what needs the most improvement (my freezes are also weak, but that's a more advanced problem). Footwork is the part of the dance that takes place on the ground, and I basically ignored it in favor of toprock for the first six or seven months of classes. Now I need to get it up to speed. My goal is to polish my six-step and CCs, plus get coffeegrinders, monkey-swings, Zulu rolls, and four-step into working shape. Adding three-step would be a nice, but unlikely, bonus.
  • Remember variety: The second problem I have in footwork is not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of ready vocabulary. I often forget about certain moves when I'm on the ground, and end up repeating the same thing again and again. A move you can't remember is worthless, so I need to keep the variety high in my practice drills.
  • Integrate a little popping: I started taking popping classes off and on in October last year, and I really enjoy it. I'm also really bad at it, but I'm trying to work on my fundamentals, and it'd be nice to be able to work some of that into some threading or footwork eventually.
  • Freeze transitions: The one last thing I'd like to be able to do is move between freezes. I'd be happy with switching legs in a baby-freeze, then dropping into a shoulder freeze. An elbow-based air freeze would be cool, too, but I'm not very comfortable upside-down yet.

On top of all this is a need to remedy my general lack of physical fitness. B-boying has been a fantastic workout--I lost about twenty pounds almost immediately, and I'm certainly a lot stronger than I used to be--but it's not yet enough. So throw some push-ups and sit-ups into the mix, and maybe some jogging with Belle and the dog.

On a more observational note: this weekend I went down with a friend to Circles 11, the JMU Breakdance Club's annual b-boy/hip-hop event. A good time was had by all: the battles were thrilling, the MCs got chewed out by DJ Skeme Richards, and I got to meet some fresh faces. I only had one real problem: there were too many crews.

Not in absolute terms, of course--the more b-boys and b-girls out there, the better. But Circles had 54 crews entered for its 4 vs. 4 battles, each of which had to go through a qualifying round with another crew. That's 27 prelim battles, even before the 8-crew bracket could get started (another seven battles that get extra time). It takes a long time to get through 27 battles--at 8 dancers per battle, that's 216 rounds.

It's so long, in fact, that burnout starts to set in about half-way through. After about 15 battles, you're overloaded in amazing power-moves and tricks, to the point where you start to dismiss even the most incredible feats. "Sure, you did a windmill into a broken-wrist airflare and ended on a perfect elbow freeze. Yawn. What else ya got?" When you realize that you've become this jaded, it's a bit of a shock. I do think it's telling that musicality doesn't suffer nearly as much--dancers who specialize in rocking the beat still hold interest long after the powerheads blur together.

I'm a newbie to the scene, so I hesitate to make prescriptions, but you can feel the energy draining out of the room when there are so many prelim rounds. I'd almost like to see big events limited to 40 crews or so, to keep it from getting ridiculous. Or perhaps we need a way to dual-track prelim rounds, if there were a way to do it fairly. But I feel like there's got to be a way to cut things down a bit and keep the energy up. Not that anyone's going to listen to me for organizational advice.

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