Go crate digging in Nantes with Red Bull BC One All Star RoxRite and local DJ One Up to learn not only about the true craft of DJing for battles, but also how the two disciplines of B-Boying and DJing have much in common.
Follow Red Bull BC One All Star RoxRite through Nantes, France, as he gets behind the camera to cover the 10th anniversary edition of Hop OPsession. From street dance, to art, battles, DJing and even programming for the hearing impaired, it's an annual event that's not to be missed! Check back daily for a new video from Rox. Hip OPsession Festival 2016 runs February 11 - 27.
Back in 2007, B-Boy photographer Little Shao told Bruce Ykanji, the organiser of French street dance event Juste Debout, that in the future social media would be a great tool to share the images of our dance culture. And today, Little Shao has become one of the most popular photographers in the international dance community. His eye for beauty and power in movement make him a sought-after photographer, but perhaps less associated with his name today is that Little Shao has always been a dancer as well.
One of his favourite battles, he enjoyed not only as a photographer, but also as a dancer, was the battle between the Red Bull BC One All Stars and Team France at The Notorious IBE in 2012. It was one of the few moments he forgot to do his job out of excitement. Little Shao shares his story.
“Back in 2012, I was working as a photographer on the media team of The Notorious IBE. On the final day of the event, the All Battles All was going down and The Red Bull BC One All Stars were going to battle the Young Gunz and Team France.
For the battle between the Red Bull BC One All Stars and Team France, I had positioned myself behind my friends in the Red Bull BC One All Stars. I wanted to support them, and being on the opposite side of Team France, I was able to capture all the amazing things that were to come from the dancers of my country.
After the battle started, let me tell you what happened. As for doing my job as a photographer and capturing the battle, I came up with almost nothing! Being a B-Boy myself, it was like witnessing it from the best angle possible and I really felt like being part of it. Throughout the entire battle I was watching and screaming so many times that I just forgot to take pictures.
For me, a highlight of the battle that day was the power move moment between Red Bull BC One All Star Cico and B-BoyDamien (Team France). It was like back in the day, when battles were more about to do something better than your opponent did before you. Today, everyone has his own signature move and style, so at times it’s hard to compare two rounds. It was a moment that got me hyped.
My focus this year with my B-Boy related work is to focus on quality, high-level global battles, along with creating new concepts with breakers. I already have couple of ideas in mind, so stay tuned on my Instagram.
B-Girl supercrew Heart Breakers (HBKZ), celebrates their 10th anniversary on Valentine’s Day this year in Los Angeles. Whereas most crews get started in a place, HBKZ has grown globally based on common, creative, female energy. Started by Miami’s own veteran B-Girl Beta, with her friends Rikachet and Kaos, its organic movement quickly spread, clipping Rotterdam, London, Texas, Los Angeles, Qatar and even Hawaii, and pulled some of the world’s most talented female breakers, writers, MCs and DJs in its wake. Started officially in 2006, Heart Breakerz now runs more than 17-women strong, and with names like Roxy (UK), Aruna (Netherlands), Melo (Australia), Big Tara (New York) and Ladie One (Miami).
HBKZ is a force to be reckoned with well beyond the confines of the cypher. We caught up with several members of the crew in preparation of their big anniversary jam to discuss not only what makes them tick together from all corners of the globe, but the state of B-Girling over the past decade, their advice to all young female Hip Hoppers, the meaning of a real crew and, naturally, how many men ask to be a part of Heart Breakerz! If you’re anywhere near LA this Valentine’s Day, be sure to check out their party on February 13. With judges like Nasty Ray and Kujo, plus all their own lady breakers in tow, it’s a winter event not to be missed.
Who began Heart Breakerz, and how does it continue to grow globally? Beta: I did, with Rikachet and Kaos, in 2005. We officially made it a crew in 2006. Initially it was a B-Girl crew that we were forming, and around 2008 we incorporated a popper and then from there we incorporated more of the elements and we became a Hip Hop crew. We have B-Girls, writers, MCs and DJs.
Big Tara: We have many different kinds of dance represented. I do breaking, Hip Hop House, Waacking, All Styles since I’m from NYC. I learned very little of it in the studio. I’m also in a crew called Anomolies, and I rhyme with them, and I’m in a house crew called Mawu. But I’ve known Beta since I first started breaking in ’97. We’ve known each other for dumb long!
Tara: I had also been friends with Aruna for a long time.
Roxy: Aruna is the first person I met.
Beta: Our growth is organic. It always goes that way.
So HBKZ is more of an artist collective? Beta: Well, we run as a movement, a collective, but we still represent as a crew because we have active members that compete. For example, Ladie One, is a graffiti artist that is up on every possible wall she can spray, so we are more than a collective in that respect.
Ladie One: I live pretty split in both worlds, between writing and breaking. But my name is a graff name, so it’s where I originally came from. Chores, my original mentor, gave it to me.
Why did you want HBKZ to be an all-around Hip Hop crew, and not just B-Girls? Beta: It’s what I know and how I started. Since I was young and up through the late 90s up to the late 90s all crews had members that repped all or more than one element. To me, thats Hip Hop as a whole and what keeps us connected as a community. I don't see much of that today in the U.S. I suppose I’m traditional and value the lifestyle.
How do the various artforms influence eachother in your crew? Beta: Good question, its what makes us Heart Breakerz. We were all brought together piece by piece, element by element. Our influence in each other is our grounding and it’s a reminder of our potential as we grow. Our artforms alone have huge impact and, as a unit, it’s a force. When you’re in the right crew you will understand.
Why did you feel the need to start a B-Girl crew when you did? Beta: There was a rise in B-Girls in the early 00s. But with that rise there wasn’t much distinction in talent. The B-Girls who had been dancing for a long time, like Rikachet, Kaos and myself, wanted to prove ourselves via rawness and expression of the art form in our way, and make a crew of that.
Would you recommend them to practice with girls? Beta: I never practiced with females when I started and really didn’t until early 00s. It depends what you want to sacrifice. If you want a challenge and to be serious about increasing your potential, I would say no. If you want comfort, to not be discriminated, critiqued harshly and to not suffer catcalling, I would say yes. In the end, once you reach a certain peak in your artform you will know exactly what’s best for you.
Melo: Speaking of Australia, I started as a B-Girl around 2007. There was an event at the time called She Got Game, in Melbourne. It was not only Australia’s biggest B-Girl jam, but I believe at the time the world’s biggest B-Girl two-on-two as well. That was when B-Girl Stash and I first met Beta. Stash and me are both a part of the crew, but we’re incredibly isolated where we live. We don’t really get the chance to be battled into the crew, or prove ourselves as B-Girls that way globally. So it’s a different speed here. As for now, I’m in Heart Breakerz, and it was more about old friendships than a battle level.
“Highly successful B-Boys, who dance as a profession, have said they would drop everything to represent our crew and be a member– that they’d be honored.” - Beta
So, what makes a Heart Breaker a Heart Breaker? Beta: Raw, rebel, free spirit. I mean it’s almost the unspoken language chemistry that the ones in Heart Breakerz, we just understand. We can see this energy– it just clicks– it’s rare, unique and the inspiration behind how we preserve it as a crew. That’s how special I think it is. And I think the best way to represent that is make a crew of it and share it with the world.
What does it mean to be a free spirit in the Hip Hop community? Beta: Exactly that: FREE. I believe everyone should express him or herself freely and stick to his or her own personal truth. What you give back to the community is your self. With no integrity, you have no trademark.
Aruna: People in our community can be quite conservative. The HBKZ spirit keeps me inspired and really feeds my commitment to represent our vibe.
Big Tara: We have such a deep bond we can feel each other even when we’re not together. We really feel each other.
Roxy: In my case, it feels like I’ve been in the crew for a decade but I haven’t even been breaking that long.
How does one join the crew? Do you get requests? Beta: Yes, I get messages. More men than women, to be honest! But I like that, because it shows that we’re on the right path. I highly doubt that there is another B-Girl crew that B-Boys ask to be a part of. You know what I mean?
Tara: Like real, respected B-Boys ask.
Roxy: They know what’s up.
Beta: Several successful B-Boys have said they would drop everything to represent our crew and be a member– that they’d be honored. They’d tattoo it on their forehead if they could, so the level of commitment that they’d show if they had that opportunity would be quite entertaining. We have those B-Boys as support and for advice, or anything, really. They’re there for us 100%, and we appreciate that. That kind of support wasn’t there back in the day. It was quite the contrary. So I know that we’re making a difference– we’re doing the right thing. Actually, we are doing many good and right things –some things take a little longer than others, but as long as we keep moving forward it’s good.
Ladie One: My situation was unique. I grew up with Stella, who is also a member, and we battled and traveled together. She wanted to put me down in the crew. It honestly took me three years to get put down, it was like it wasn’t time yet. It was a big controversy, actually. She almost left the crew. She wanted to battle with me once, as she had promised me but Beta was trying to make her battle with somebody else. Stella kept her word to me as a friend, and that made Beta see our connection. It was dramatic at the time, but we laugh about it now. I became a member in 2010.
What do you have to say to up-and-coming B-Girls? Beta: Just, do you. It’s ok to be whack. It’s ok to lose– that’s part of the dance. That immediately wanting to be dope is just going to backfire and just do it for yourself. Be honest, ask questions and learn. Know your roots, know your B-Girl history. I think it’ll go a long way, it’s not about the moves, it’s about knowing what you’re doing because you know where it came from. You can do 55 halos, but if you don’t even know who the first B-Girl was it doesn’t make any sense.
“… Make sure you find people you really vibe with and with whom you’re truly happy. See if you can really express your art and who you are with ease with those people. That’s your real crew.” - Big Tara
Tara: Just respect the people who built the pathway for you. Those people are unlikely rich or well-known, but they created something that’s giving you a voice and a way to live, and the least you could do is acknowledge them in some way.
Big Tara: Travel as much as you can.
Roxy: Stop hating. All: Yeah, stop hating.
Big Tara: And find your real crew. People who treat you like garbage, or make you feel bad, that’s not your crew. Your crew is people who really, really inspire you and move you in a positive direction in your life. Many people get involved with groups they call their crew but that’s really not their crew. They know they’re miserable inside or are not free to truly express themselves. Beta: Keep challenging yourself. If you let yourself get too comfortable, you plateau and that can be a trap. Battle the best person at every event. And even if you’re gonna get smoked, you will still come out stronger.
Melo: Don’t limit yourself to gender. Don’t think just because you’re a B-Girl you only have to battle B-Girls, you should challenge yourself and enter everything because it’s a dance in general. You should always challenge yourself in every aspect, and be well-rounded.
Big Tara: Stop biting moves. Be original and innovative
What’s next for the crew? Beta: We’re going to throw our third anniversary party on Valentine’s Day! Check it out! It’s our 10th anniversary as a crew. It’s going to be an annual event. We’re trying to change the location every year. The following year, it will be in New York and last year it was in Miami. From there we’ll just see how successful the first three were and take it from there. It will be more of a celebration than what we did at The Notorious IBE for Heart Break Hotel, but we’ll still do the Bonnie and Clyde and probably do more shenanigans.
Ladie One: More surprises, more surprises.
Aruna: We choose to have fun over competition. That’s also a message we want to send out: it’s cool to be serious and dedicated but don’t forget to have fun. It worked really well during our Hear Break Hotel jam at Notorious IBE. It was serious FUN. It brought everyone together and everyone was just equally stoked. We like to keep it simple and fun.
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