Music to Break to: Mixtape 16 (DJ Help)

Karima: France’s Queen B-Girl

Posted by on Jan. 27, 2015

Karima is the indisputable, old-school queen of French breaking. Having gotten her start in 1988 with the legendary Aktuel Force crew, she has never stopped dancing since and still remains today as an icon in the international scene.

Spotlight On: B-Girl Karima
Karima at Paris' La Villette before the Red Bull BC One France World Final 2014

Having graced the World Stage in November, she was also and was one of the dancers presented in the We B*Girlz book back in 2005. Read on as one of the globe’s original B-Girl superstars shares her thoughts on the scene today, what it was like being nearly the only girl in the early days and what she calls her style.

When did you start breaking?
I started breaking in 1988. I was first introduced to dance by watching black women dance at a party in September of 1982. I was 13 years old, and that was my entrance into it. A year later, I went to parties at Le Bataclan with my sister, who is two years my senior, and other friends. There was a slowing of the culture by 1986 as the legendary TV show H.I.P. H.O.P. was taken off-air, and my sister became interested in other cultures, as did many of the dancers. But all the disciplines of Hip Hop were available in my neighborhood, and I had real luck in that fact since the underground scene there never stalled alongside the mainstream.

Karima at Paris' Trocadero, 1988.jpg
Karima & friends at Paris' Trocadero, 1988 

Why did you want to start breaking?
Well, I tried out graffiti and rapping without a single shred of talent! The dance was called “La Peewee,” then later “La Hype,” but I never really saw myself as differentiating between the two. I frequented B-Boy practice spots and I watched many power moves and footwork transitions that they would execute quickly. I hardly had the time to understand. One day in 1988, I saw Gabin do a footwork variation slowly, then more quickly, and then he re-started and it lent him a new path. That was a revelation for me. I asked him to teach me variations that I found and could develop. That really made me love and understand the art of B-Boying.

Were there other B-Girls dancing with you back in the day?
There were many dancers doing Debout (upright) before the 90s. I had my first shows with the female French rapper, B-Love, and since Sophie was also a Debout dancer who had integrated elements of boogie into her style, I later did my first show with Aktuel Force with her. I also danced with Natacha, a former member of Ladies Night crew, who did Double Dutch and La Hype. Our mutual bond was La Hype, but I started dancing closer and closer to the floor and then went my own way.

Spotlight On: B-Girl Karima

What is the difference between the French scene now, versus back in the day?
This goes for scenes outside of France as well, but there is now an openness and visibility that never existed before. It’s a different way of doing things that is somehow less human today. Technical skill has evolved, but the spiritual side of the dance has diminished as a result and the stakes just aren’t the same.

Spotlight On: B-Girl Karima

Who are you dancing with now? Are you mostly dancing with men or women?
My environment is about 95% male, but I dance with the people with whom I feel good. I mainly train with Xavier and Karim, and I go to Gabin’s Blaise practice space too. I also love to share footwork with Bruce Wayne, and with B-Boys like PacPac, who is a little genie. I have an eye for and help some B-Boys from the upcoming generation too, like NoosTaz, Matéo, and the younger members of All School. I have a certain feeling for some people and how they function, the way that they emit their personality through dance. I get a good sense from good spirits and the rest just becomes detail.

Ultra Magnetic MCs with Gabin and Karima.jpgUltramagnetic MCs with Gabin & Karima

Do you have a crew?
I am Aktuel Force, and just like every other member, we together create the crew. We are Aktuel Force. Even if there is a member on the other side of the world, it’s what keeps us together. We’re more than a crew, we’re also  Brothers of the Floor. In a crew, you have to find an equilibrium– a balance between listening and hearing, between making concessions between all the different personalities and above all things, keeping melded together as one.

Spotlight On: B-Girl Karima

Was it hard for you as a girl to find your place in this culture? 
There were girls who were breaking before me, but not a single one kept with it for more than a couple months. Everyone thought that it would be the same for me. I was never really encouraged by the people around me, but I wasn’t rejected either. I learned to find my place. I didn’t play the girl card, but I was of course never accepted as a gentleman either. 

Are you able to make a living on dancing?
I have been living off dance since 1994, and it’s a complicated life. There is not stability that can lead you to retirement. It’s not easy, but it’s a choice I made and would never change.

Spotlight On: B-Girl Karima

How do you see your style?
From the gates, I never wanted to do what was already done. It’s for that very reason that I turned against a footwork-only approach. I could tell the story of each of my variations, if you really wanted to me define my style. But if there is one word to describe my style, it’s “personal.”

Spotlight On: B-Girl Karima

Who inspires you? 
There is an inspiration that comes from within, and that takes time to recognize not only in yourself but another dancer. Today we have a massive amount of dancers, but few of which are truly inspirational. It’s becoming easier to reproduce a series of the maximum of moves, yet it’s hard to say why, exactly, those moves are being made. I have a nice variation that was inspired by B-Boy Deep Trip, that I saw in a video. I thanked him for it and I showed him how I reproduced it as soon as I had a chance to meet him. The variation was then re-worked by other dancers. It became a ready-to-use move of sorts but that’s just a tiny example of the evolution of the state of the B-Boy spirit today.

What’s your advice to upcoming B-Girls?
Be you a B-Boy or B-Girl, just be you. And persevere. God is great.

Photos from the Red Bull BC One World Final 2014 Nika Kramer/ Red Bull Content Pool; Historic photos courtesy of Karima

#BCONE Instagram of the Week

Posted by on Jan. 26, 2015

Presenting the best #BCONE Instagram of the week. Check out this head dope snap from @bboymatrix

Video Break: The Week's Top 3

Posted by on Jan. 23, 2015

B-Boy Wicket and Jazzy J by Renegade Rockers

Watch two of the most influential West Coast B-Boys in action and read the interview in our blog here.

Jinjo Crew vs T.I.P., Monster Party Vol.2 by .strife

It's the new-generation Jinjo on the floor, with Meadow, Kazino, Big shot, Lilky and Soma.

Krayzee G by

Can you get down with this 75-year-old Swedish B-Girl?

Cover photo courtesy of Renegade Rockers

#TBT Breaking Battles: B-Boy Wicket & Jazzy J Renegade Rockers

Posted by on Jan. 22, 2015

Politix, leader of the world-famous Renegade Rockers, made a throwback video featuring his crewmates Jazzy J and Wicket. In this short interview, Politix explains why he made the little tribute about two not only very talented, but also influential B-Boys.  Included also are a few words from the legendary B-Boy Wicket on his first encounter with Jazzy J and joining the Renegade Rockers.

Politix, please introduce yourself.
My name is Politix and I'm leader of the Renegade Rockers and am one of the only poppers to represent the crew since the early 1990. I still represent to this day.

You edited the Jazzy J, Wicket video. Are you besides a filmmaker too?
I am not a filmmaker, but I do put together and edit the videos for the Renegade Rockers Facebook page, Instagram and rest of the social media for the crew. Besides being a leader of my crew, I also am the owner of Renegade Restorations, which is a sneaker restoration company.

Why did you make the video?
I made this video because I grew up with Wicket and Jazzy J and remember being at practice with them everyday. We really pushed one another and watch each other mature. Its important for people to see how deep our crew history runs. It goes back to 1983, to when our crew was established by original member OC.
I also made this video because, in my humble opinion, both Wicket and Jazzy J are legends and innovators in the West Coast B-Boy and Bay Area. I think they were both ahead of their time and influenced B-Boys worldwide with what they did, and I believe they are sometimes forgotten. They are two of the biggest pieces of the Renegade Rockers and our history.

What’s the current status of Renegade Rockers?
All of us as a crew have been busy doing all kinds of different projects and decided to lay low in 2014. We are all still practicing hard, so expect to see plenty more of Renegade Rockers in 2015. Be on the lookout for a new generation of Renegades to come really soon!

Renegae Rockers #TBT Breaking Battles January 22, 2014 

Who are the active members at the moment?
Wicket, RoxRite, Kid David, Iron Monkey, Dee Rock, Naytron, Tony Styles, Tommy Guns, Finesse, Milestone, Blakk, Pharside and Politix. 

When is the next Renegade Rockers anniversary jam?
The Renegade Rockers 32nd anniversary will be held on June 19th and 20th. It will be at City Nights, in San Francisco, California, and there will be a three-on-three 3 B-Boy and a two-on-two B-Girl battle. We will have more information and a big announcements on our Renegade Rockers Facebook page coming up soon too!

Wicket, can you say something about joining Renegade Rockers?
Jazzy and I joined Renegades in 1993. Believe it or not , we were enemies before. Our leader then, Aki, recruited Jazzy a few months after I joined. Jazzy was from a rival crew called DCB (Daly City Breakers). It was Aki's idea to get the best B-Boys from our city and build a super crew (laughing)! I'm from San Francisco. Jazzy is from Daly City, which is minutes from SF. 

Renegae Rockers #TBT Breaking Battles January 22, 2014

Is Jazzy J still breaking?
I'm not sure. I haven't seen him break in years, but he is a MC and a damn good one at that. We are working on a project as we speak. There is no set release date yet, as we are still early in the process. 

How about yourself?
As for me, I still break. I mostly teach workshops, practice and cypher. I'm 36 years-old now, so my focus has shifted more to producing music… but I still have a little gas left in the tank to train for a competition, so who knows. 

Photos courtesy of Renegade Rockers