Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Unconventional Art Forms...Breakdancing

I was also recently exposed to breakdancing as an art form. A little over two weeks ago a friend contacted me, asking about whether I would be interested in cheering on his friends at a breakdancing competition at Madison’s Monona Terrace.

Although I have seen breakdancing on television and in movies, I was completely unprepared for the amazing dancing I saw that night. People of all ages and ethnicities arrived to perform; they even had judges come from as far away as Japan!

Upon entering the conference room, I was overwhelmed by the number of dancers and fans gathered there - the place was packed! In the middle of the room was a large, smooth, wooden floor, located in front of a stage where two disc jockeys scratched a beat on records. Smaller practice floors allowed the dance groups to warm up, while family and friends cheered them on.

How the crowd cheered the dancers on was just as unique as the dance style. Instead of the traditional clapping, individuals were instructed to raise a hand in the air and bob their hand up and down whenever they saw an impressive move.

Ironically, white dancers were in the minority, as most of the people there looked to be of either Asian or African-American descent. There were two dancers that stood out to me.

The first was a tall African-American male dressed all in blue that the crowd dubbed “Avatar.” As a former gymnast, I understand that the taller you are, the more difficult it is to throw your body around. Yet despite his height, “Avatar” managed to twist and spin with the best of them.

The second person that drew my attention was a white male I dubbed “Farmer Joe.” As I told my friend, “I can die happy now that I have seen a white man dressed in flannel breakdance.”

I was left breathless by the dance moves I saw. I saw people bouncing on their hands while suspending both legs in the air. I also saw men and women swinging their legs in the air like male gymnasts do on the pommel horse, as well as spin on their heads. The most unusual move I saw was a reverse worm-the man forced his body up while on his back instead of his stomach. The real challenge the dancers faced was breakdancing to whatever beat the DJs set.

The music, strength, control and sheer athleticism of the dancers combined to make an amazing competition. The so-called “untraditional” art forms I have witnessed in recent months has expanded my view of art, as well as given me an understanding about how other cultures express themselves.

Note: I will later post a couple videos I took at the breakdancing competition. I just moved back home after graduation and I have yet to find the cord that allows me to upload pictures and videos from my digital camera to my laptop.

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