On July 23 in Chicago where the b-boy was created, the nation’s best b-boys will battle during the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier. Throughout a series of 1-on-1 faceoffs, the competition will pit city against city and crew against crew. Style will clash with power, toprock with downrock, tight footwork with explosive acrobatics. At the end, only one of the 16 competitors will emerge with the right to call himself the best b-boy in the country.
As one of the four elements of hip-hop—along with MCing, DJing and graffiti—b-boying has thrived since its inception in Chicago, a city with undisputed hip-hop cred.
The Aragon Ballroom, one of the Windy City’s most storied cultural landmarks and a legendary dance venue, will serve as the arena for a day of battles that will help shape the future of b-boying.
$10 GA and $20 VIP tickets will be available for purchase beginning Monday, June 27 from the Aragon box office or online at www.aragon.com.
Asked about his interests outside b-boying, this Battle Born crewmember says, “I don’t really have any besides dancing. It’s all I know.” Because of that dedication, breakers around the world now know the name ATN. If you read through the comments on any of the numerous online videos that feature the Las Vegas product, there’s no mistaking the respect:
- “One of the illest in the game right now. ATN has been repping hard and earning his name on the underground for a long time.”
- “He is the best footworker in the world.”
- “His name is ATN ... almost too nasty.”
At the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier in Chicago, the breaker famed for his footwork will attempt to step into the international spotlight. “I don't have any expectations,” ATN says about the Windy City competition. “I’m just here to rep my crew and do what I do.” What exactly does ATN do? Nothing less than earn the respect of opponents, judges and crowds every time he battles. If he can win over those three groups in Chicago, this fall we’ll watch the Sin City phenom transform into a global b-boy at Red Bull BC One Russia 2011.
El Niño is a fitting b-boy name for Alex Diaz, who started breaking at age 5. “My uncle is the president of the crew,” El Niño explains, “and my brother and cousins were in the crew as well.” Talking to El Niño today, it’s clear that during the last 16 years his family members have taught him solid b-boy values in addition to moves. Asked to name the characteristics of a solid breaker, he says, “Someone who shows their skills but is humble about it. A good b-boy always respects the opponent and understands that everything is a learning process.”
Child” in name only, El Niño will rely on his grown-man wisdom for an edge at the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier in Chicago. “My expectations are to win and represent my city as much as I can,” he says. “One of my hopes is to get my point across and to express my style to the world.” That’s some mature thinking for sure, and the Boston resident matches his level head with swift feet. When Lilou couldn’t make the Red Bull BC One All Star East Coast Tour this year, El Niño’s footwork and explosive power helped earn him the substitute spot.
For those who don’t know, it’s “Evol” like “Knievel.” But you’d be forgiven for thinking that the name was short for “evolution.” After all, this is the dude who went from being an unschooled kid to a self-taught breaking force, and whose style has helped b-boy culture develop in his native Chicago and beyond. “It was October 1998, the beginning of 8th grade,” Evol says, remembering the first time he tried to throw down moves. “I saw some friends trying to break and I was like, ‘I’m down.’ But I didn’t know what was what and neither did they. We taught ourselves for the first year: no videos, no YouTube, no teachers. Pure love for the movement kept me going.
Thirteen years later, that pure love has raised Evol and his Brickheadz crew to prominence in the Windy City. At the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier, the hometown favorite plans to “vent out to the world.” His expression of personal style will no doubt be enough to get the Chi-City crowd behind him, but what about the judges? Don’t be surprised if in addition to his famed power moves, Evol brings a little something extra to hold down his home turf and punch his ticket for Red Bull BC One Russia 2011.
Frankie describes his style as “all-around, full of controlled energy.” The Queens native blends power moves, freezes and footwork—all without neglecting one element for another. At this year’s Red Bull BC One Cypher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Frankie’s balanced skills and stamina proved to be the difference.
Four rounds into the Cambridge finals, the judges couldn’t reach a decision and set up a tiebreaker between Frankie and his opponent. The other guy started to run out of moves and energy, but Frankie still had enough left of both to throw down a full set and walk away as the winner. Coming into the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier in Chicago, the globetrotting Frankie has already gone the distance at competitions in the Ukraine, Netherlands, Sweden, England, Wales and France. But we’re sure he can make room in his passport for at least one more stamp, especially if it’s from Russia. Having outlasted all his competition up to this point, only 15 more b-boys stand between Frankie and the ultimate stage: Red Bull BC One Russia 2011.
Film director Anne Paas featured the Dynamic Rockers in a webisode series called “I ‘Break’ NY.” In episode seven, Kid Glyde and Gravity represent the Rockers in a battle against Frankie and Ken Fury from the Supreme Beingz, with a trip to France on the line. Prior to the battle, an excited Gravity tells his crewmates, “If I go to France, I’ll be a worldwide b-boy, son.” Things worked out differently that day, but Gravity realized his aspirations for international notoriety the next year, when he competed at Red Bull BC One Japan 2010. A win at this year’s Chicago qualifier will put the Brooklyn product back on the global stage with a ticket to Moscow, where a top finish would take Gravity from being an international b-boy to being the international b-boy.
What should his Chi-town opponents expect? “The way I wanna battle is just mad energy,” Gravity says during one “I ‘Break’ NY” webisode. “I just want to throw my body and be able to catch and control everything.” His ruthless in-battle mindset could get even wilder should Gravity get a chance for revenge against Frankie, who will also be in Chicago.
Representing the Killafornia crew from Sacramento, Kareem has spent the last 12 years defying labels. “My style isn’t a style,” he says. “It’s a feeling that I have when I dance. If I’m feeling powerful, then I have a powerful style; if I’m feeling funky, then I have a funky style.” This sense of spontaneity separates Kareem from those opponents who place technique before passion—and it helps him stay poised when facing tough competition.
Earlier this year in Poland, Killafornia more than held their own against the Pockemon crew, led by two-time Red Bull BC One champ Lilou. As usual, Kareem kept a cool head and turned in a performance that added to his self-described reputation as someone “who can dance like no one is watching, and who just expresses himself on the dance floor.” Looking ahead to the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier in Chicago, he says, “My hopes are to win the competition and show where hard work and dedication can take you. I want to be a role model by working my hardest and going all the way to win Red Bull BC One.”
This 27-year-old started breaking at age 12 in MacAllen, Texas. Now splitting his time between the Lone Star State and Florida, Keebz represents both the Mind 180 and Masterz of Mayhem crews. Despite his dual allegiances, Keebz never feels conflicted, thanks to his devotion to the overall breaking movement. “If you have passion, love and respect,” he says, “everything else will follow.”
The crowd at the Chicago qualifier can count on Keebz bringing some next-generation moves along with his old-school values. “While respecting tradition and the fundamentals,” he says, “I still make it a point to innovate.” And he’s made that point at international events like IBE, where his inventive technique has earned him a reputation as a premier overall performer.
Worldwide competition has also given Keebz the knowledge that community-building and culture are more important than personal awards and swag. Looking ahead to the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier, Keebz says, “Most importantly, I hope to have fun, meet new people and vibe with the rest of the dancers.”
When you ask Kid Glyde to talk about his personal ambitions, you find out quick that he really doesn’t have any. Everything that the dude wants, he wants for b-boys and b-girls everywhere, not just himself. So don’t expect him to talk about his appearances in films and on TV, or his endorsement deals. It’s more likely that he’ll tell you about the kids at the free workshops that he leads through the Greater YMCA of New York. Or maybe you’ll hear how he works to introduce breaking to new audiences by getting events in unusual places, like the Skillz to Burn competition that went down in a Florida art museum.
It’s all part of Kid Glyde’s vision to extend the legacy of his dad, Glyde, a member of the original Dynamic Rockers. That old-school crew helped b-boying break through to the mainstream, and Kid Glyde wants to take it to the next level. Remember that the next time you see him and the next-generation Dynamic Rockers on the “Rachel Ray Show” or in webisode series like “I ‘Break’ NY.” As Kid explains, it’s all about his dream of “bringing b-boying to the level that skateboarding and BMX are at today.”
Don’t expect Mijo to be phased coming into the Chicago qualifier. When his Milwaukee-based Motion Disorderz crew last visited the Windy City, they won the breaking competition at the third annual Hip Hop Revival. Combine that with the crew’s recent win at Breakin’ the Law 8 in Madison and his own solo victory at the Red Bull BC One cypher in Minneapolis, and Mijo has risen above some serious pressure. Of course, it always helps when you regularly perform during halftime at Milwaukee Bucks games.
On the other hand, Mijo hasn’t necessarily seen the kind of competition that he’ll face at the U.S. qualifier. But to really understand how well grounded this guy is, you need to look at what he does when he’s not competing. Despite his travel and training schedule, Mijo goes out of his way to teach breaking classes through Milwaukee’s TRUE Skool non-profit, just as he’s done every year since 2004. For Mijo, the ability to give back and help kids find a positive outlet means more than personal glory. Looking ahead to the Red Bull BC One qualifier, he keeps his priorities in order. “I’m just excited to rep my crew,” he says. “This should be a lot of fun.”
Asked if he has a personal motto, Minnesota Joe quotes Napoleon Bonaparte: “Death is nothing, but to live defeated is to die every day.” That might seem kinda heavy, but this St. Paul b-boy has some serious depth. Discussing his biggest achievements in breaking so far, Joe doesn’t mention personal glories like the Hip Hopsession 7 title he won in Nantes, France. “My greatest accomplishment as a dancer is meeting all these great people in my life,” he says, explaining his friendships across three crews (Knuckleheads Cali, Warriors and War Machine).
Joe’s big-picture outlook developed soon after he started b-boying. “My inspiration was the challenge and discipline it took learning all the moves,” he says. “It soon evolved into a passion for the culture and the journey of finding oneself.” Joe expresses that passion through his trademark power moves, which will be on full display in Chicago. “My hopes for the Red Bull BC One Chicago qualifier” Joe explains, “is to represent what my crew and I stand for. And that is creativity and an open mind in this dance form. It would be nice to win, but to present our stance is more important. As it should be for everyone.”
For a dude who’s spent the last 13 years throwing down airtight moves in premier competitions all over the world, Morris sure is underrated. In 2011 alone, the Sacramento native has repped city, country and crew in China, Belgium, France and the U.S. Morris reached the finals on every occasion and left Asia having won it all. When he wasn’t battling during the first half of 2011, the Fallen King crewmember judged events in Luxembourg, Israel, France and elsewhere.
Despite all these accomplishments, Morris often doesn’t get his props. As soon as he narrowly lost the finals tiebreaker at the International Rochefort Battle 2011, online forums lit up. Easily distracted by acrobatics, haters hated, while kids with knowledge pointed out Morris’ flawless musicality and pinpoint movement. Morris intends to establish himself as an undeniable b-boy force by taking the ultimate crown later this year in Russia—a feat he nearly accomplished at Red Bull BC One New York 2009, before running into eventual champion Lilou in the semi-finals. But in order to punch his ticket for Russia, Morris—whose personal motto is “Let’s gamble!”—will first have to silence the critics in Chicago. Considering the momentum he’s been gaining overseas, only a n00b would bet against him.
Asked to name his greatest achievement to date, Nasty Ray says, “Having the opportunity to be flown around the world to teach, judge and dance is a great feeling.” In an upcoming documentary by Lord Michael Bautista, Nasty Ray keeps the globetrotting theme going when he says, “My main goal is to travel and teach more.” Well, if seeing more of the world is the goal, then mission accomplished. Within the last two weeks alone, visitors to Ray’s Tumblr site have followed the Boogie Brats/Squadron crewmember from Tampa to China to the Czech Republic to Slovakia.
If Ray ever gets burned out from the traveling, he’s already got a couple of gigs to fall back on. In addition to his appearance in the documentary, he just made his acting debut in the music video for Malakai’s “Fresh.” Plus, Ray recently mixed things up on Tumblr by posting a photo of his bartending certificate. But the world of breaking isn’t about to lose the dude any time soon. He’s already agreed to represent the U.S. at the World Bboy Classic this summer in Holland. By that time, the dust will have settled in Chicago and we’ll know whether Nasty Ray won the right to hold it down for the States at Red Bull BC One Russia 2011.
If the Chicago judges dig musicality, Palmer might emerge as an early favorite at the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier. “I like to base my battles off the music,” the Houston b-boy says. “That’s where I get a feel and am able to create a flow and connect moves together.” Since he started breaking at age 14, Palmer’s musicality has helped him connect a string of top-place finishes from Texas to Poland.
Palmer earned his trip to the qualifier by winning the Austin cypher earlier this year. Two days after celebrating his 26th birthday, the Havikoro crewmember will throw down in the Windy City for a chance at the ultimate prize. A win will mean a ticket to Red Bull BC One Russia 2011 and the world finals, which he calls “the Super Bowl for b-boys.” Asked what it all means to him, Palmer says, “I’ve grown up watching Red Bull BC One and have always dreamed of being there. I just can’t believe I’ve been given this opportunity.”
Over the last few years, Supernaturalz have emerged as one of Canada’s top b-boy crews. In 2008 they won the B-boy Unit Canada regional eliminations, earning the right to call themselves “Team Canada” at the competition’s world finals later that year. Since then, the crew has represented their city and country all over the world. They’ve won events like Floor Wars 5 in Denmark and Master the Art 8 in the States, while also competing in Korea and defending their claim of Canadian supremacy coast-to-coast in their homeland.
This impressive run has owed at least a little something to a b-boy from Pickering, Ontario known as Puzzles. The Supernaturalz vet and Red Bull BC One rookie contributes an array of dancing abilities to his crew. His impeccable footwork stands out, but so does the sense of musicality that he shows whether he’s toprocking or rolling through a blow up. The end result is a tendency to stun crowds, as anyone who saw his 2009 battle against Miracles can tell you. If Puzzles can put together all the pieces in Chicago, the b-boy that the U.S. sends to Russia might actually be a Canadian.
Toyz aRe Us
Toyz aRe Us outlined his plans for summer 2011:
- July 3rd to July 15th – Judging and teaching workshops over at the BOTY: Israel Qualifier. Also judging and teaching at several other locations in Israel.
- July 16th – Freshest Of All Time. The annual D.C. 2v2 b-boy battles and 1v1 Popping battles. Up to $1,200 in prize money. Presented by Words, Beats, & Life Inc.
- July 19th – Banya Spa in Philadelphia. Yesssss…. if you don’t know what that is, Look it up!
- July 22nd to July 24th – Red Bull BC One, USA Qualifier. I’ve been invited to participate in the 1v1 battles there. I need to start preparing for this!
- July 30th – I forgot….
With such a packed schedule, the Lionz of Zion crewmember will have to conserve his energy to fully represent at Chicago. But this Maryland b-boy knows something about keeping things balanced—especially when it comes to his breaking style. “I am an all-around b-boy,” he says. “I have footwork, power, freezes, flava and originality.” Only time will tell whether Toyz’s arsenal will hold up against the best b-boys in the U.S., but he does have history on his side. In 2010, Toyz finished first at Evolution V in New York, despite a schedule that had him in 11 different events on multiple continents.
The b-boy world is about to stop sleeping on Vicious Victor. The 17-year-old will come into the Windy City without the notoriety enjoyed by some of his older opponents. As of right now, Victor can’t even get respect from b-boy ranking websites. Don't be surprised if all that changes on July 23. Even if he doesn’t walk out of Chicago with a ticket to Russia, you can believe that Victor will use the Red Bull BC One United States qualifier to announce his arrival on the national breaking scene.
Victor earned his spot in the national qualifier by winning the Red Bull BC One Cypher in Tampa. His dominant performance didn’t surprise anyone in Florida, where he and his MF Kidz / Backyard Funk crews have been steadily building their reputations. Despite his opportunity to take things to the next level at Chicago, Vicious Victor isn’t letting the spotlight get to him. Talking about the upcoming competition, he says, “To be honest, I have no expectations. I’m just going to go out there and do my best. Win or lose, I’m gonna have fun and take it as a good experience.”
Date & Time:
July 23, 2011
8:00 PM - 12:30 AM
BC One Social: