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Breakdance: Power Moves vs. Styles

Power Moves vs. Styles
If you've been breakin'/b-boyin' for more than a few months then you're probably aware of the debate over which style of breakdancing is superior, power moves or styles/footwork. The debate goes something like this: B-boys who concentrate primarily on power moves say that what they do is more difficult than footwork, and B-boys who concentrate on footwork say that power people can't dance and have no creativity, and that they are just a bunch of wannabe gymnasts. What both camps fail to realize is that by ignoring an entire aspect of 'breakin', they are limiting their potential as b-boys. Yet there are, however few, b-boys who combine the best of both worlds.

Style is dope because it defines who you are as a dancer. It allows your personality to shine through; it allows people to see who you really are underneath all that gear. It lets you create a character, an aura about yourself that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. It can make you instantly recognizable in a circle. It is (or should be) pure originality.

Power is all about taking the limits of the human body to another level. It is about defying the laws of physics. This is an aspect of breakin' where you have a variety of standard moves which must be practiced constantly for weeks, months, even years, to perfect. People do horrible things to their bodies just learn a single move or combination. Originality rarely comes into play; b-boys just learn techniques from other b-boys and from videos.

Style is all about invention and self-expression, power is all about perfection of techniques. After all these years that breakin' has existed, these standards have become sort of cliche. I see the same moves and combos at every event, party, and club that I go to with very little variation. I see all kinds of individual styles, but they are each becoming less and less distinct as more and more people take up b-boyin' as a way of life. The majority of b-boys I have seen seem to be stuck in some sort of rut. They don't seem to know what else to do, what else to practice, other than to improve what they already have.

But how many b-boys have dared to try something totally different? Has anyone ever considered using style and footwork to push past the limits of the human body? Or using power moves as a means of self-expression and individuality? Power is perfection, but how many b-boys have come up with styles and tricks that take months, even years to perfect? Style is invention and self-expression, but how many b-boys use power as a means of self-expression, and how many b-boys have invented completely new moves, some of which become part of the standard repertoire?

The conventional styles of b-boyin' have come close to reaching their limits. Many of the hardest combinations, once thought impossible, have been done. Many of the most creative, bizarre, and crowd-pleasing styles have been done (and copied). This is partly because many people, when they first begin to breakdance, learn by watching. They watch people at clubs and parties, and they studiously watch videos, and then they go home and practice what they saw. Many of these people have no one to teach them techniques, and learn by watching, but they never learn any theory, i.e., what it means to be a b-boy.

My advice to aspiring b-boys: Don't do everything you see. Once you've learned the basics, CREATE. Don't do what you see in videos, do what you DON'T see. For many people, the hardest thing to do is create. The top b-boys didn't get to the top with a monkey-see, monkey-do attitude (although they probably started out with that attitude). They got to the top by distorting the preconceived notions of what breakdancing is, thus creating their own unique styles and signature moves, making a name for themselves.

Unfortunately, many of the top b-boys in the world are too busy making self-promotional videos for profit, doing shows, etc. to contribute to the up-and-coming generation of b-boys and b-girls. If approached by eager young b-boys asking to learn a move or technique, they ask for a fee. This is unfortunate, because many of them exemplify the qualities I discussed, i.e., fusing style and power moves, but refuse to pass them on.

I predict that with the coming generation of b-boys and b-girls, the dividing line between highly creative dancers and less creative dancers will grow thicker and thicker. We will see b-boys of tremendous creativity, while the rest continue to imitate, because they will not have been educated. I plan to do my part, and I hope to see other influential b-boys do the same.

by Krayz E. Kujo
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