Smaller scenes tend to get overshadowed within the global Hip Hop community. While the larger ones may be easier to recognize, it’s not to say that some of the smaller ones haven’t made an equal impact or left behind them as important of a legacy. Colorado is one such scene.
I recently took a trip to Denver to visit the community center known as The B-Boy Factory, run by Ian Flaws, to celebrate their second anniversary. The Factory serves primarily as a professional dance studio dedicated to the preservation of Hip Hop culture– and specifically to inspire a strong scene in Colorado– but it’s also an art gallery that displays local work, giving exposure to up-and-coming talent.
The Factory also teaches DJing and graffiti in both the studio and throughout the Denver Public School System, the Denver Probation Department and at after-school high school programs. Their artistic outreach is impressive to say the least. While there, I got to speak with Ian to get the full 411 on Denver’s B-Boy & B-Girl history, its scene and, of course, why the B-Boy Factory is so important to the local community.
Ian also goes by B-Boy RuleOne. He chose the name not in a cocky manner, but rather as a reminder to always enjoy what he does, honoring tradition and foundation. He started writing graffiti in 1996 and started breaking a year later. He had a small crew, Natural Flava Crew, based in Boulder, Colorado, from 1998-2000.
He eventually graduated university and began traveling internationally as an English teacher, and during his travels Hip Hop became his tool to connect and create a community for himself in foreign countries. In between his travels abroad he would return to Colorado and reconnect with fellow breakers and their newer generation of students. After spending 18 months in Seoul, Korea, he volunteered at TinyToones.org in Cambodia for six months. It was there that his eyes were opened to the true power of Hip Hop as a tool for outreach and empowerment. His experiences in South Korea and Cambodia inspired the opening of The B-Boy Factory in 2012 as an attempt to create unity within and push the level of the Colorado scene.
"The B-Boy Factory is an important fixture in the local scene and is where people connect, but its bigger picture frames a place of cultural strengthening, social awareness and a way to disconnect from the outer world and the negativity that can fill it."
Ian explained that the history of Colorado’s scene is a broken one, but that it was quite strong in the 80s with crews like Dancers Unique, Radio Active and DC SpinMasters. The most famous B-Boy of that time was a young Zulu Gremlin but as with many cities during that time, the scene died out until the early 90’s when Kwik Step came to Colorado with the Jam on The Groove tour and inspired and taught a whole new generation, like Lordz of Finesse, AsiaOne, Fienz, Chonz, Phued, Jay Rock, Marz and others.
The B-Boy Factory is an important fixture in the local scene and is where people connect, but its bigger picture frames a place of cultural strengthening, social awareness and a way to disconnect from the outer world and the negativity that can fill it. It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday ills, yet extremely hard to break free from them, so The Factory is the perfect place to build forward-thinking individuals, future role models and upstanding citizens who will hopefully one day cure parts of society in return. Hip Hop started as a youth-driven culture and its future depends on those same young individuals to carry us into the future.
Photos courtesy of Skeme Richards
Soul Mavericks v Ghost Rocks at Battle of the Year Central Europe 2014 by Soul Mavericks
Watch the semi-final battle of the Battle of the Year Central Europe Qualifier 2014 (Switzerland) between Soul Mavericks and Ghost Rocks. Winners: Soul Mavericks.
Culture of Hope, Manila, Philippines, by Hip Hop 4 Hope
Street violence is faught with street culture together and dance, helping to change the lives of enthusiastic children and teenagers from slums of Manila, Philippines. www.hiphop4hope.com
PayPal Donation via firstname.lastname@example.org
25 Years in BOTY History by BOTY
Happy birthday, Battle of the Year! Who would have thought that BOTY would go from starting out in 1990 in a local youth culture centre with 500 hardcore fans, to an arena packed with more than 12,000 roaring spectators and B-Boy crews from all over the world?
France’s Mounir has made Red Bull BC One history two times. He became the first-ever B-Boy to win on each competition level, from France Cypher to Western Europe Final to the World Final. He blew audiences away in Rio de Janeiro at the 2012 World Final, proving that the competition couldn’t come close to touching him. And last year, he became the first World Champion to reach the final round in a consecutive year, losing the belt to Hong 10 in the final moments of battle.
We’re only just beginning to see what Mounir has in store for us, which is why we’re thrilled that he will compete against the world’s best this year in Paris. We spoke to Mounir about the difficulties facing B-Boys in this day and age, why patience is a B-Boy’s number-one virtue and the secret behind what makes French B-Boys unique.
How does it feel to compete in the World Final in your home country this year?
I'm very excited! Paris was my first World Final in 2008. The last six years have been the most intense of my career, and many things have changed. At that time, I came out as a challenger without any pressure on me except the pressure that I had put on myself. But you know what? Six years later, I feel exactly the same way!
I no longer have anything to prove with Red Bull BC One, except to myself, proving that I can do more and keep beating records at the most prestigious competition. But I've done a lot already, so I'm peaceful and ready to start.
Have you been training hard already?
No, not really. I mean I've been training all year long, but I had nothing special to prepare. As everybody knows, I don't really show up to any competitions during the year. It’s been especially more so since 2011, as I have competed at the Red Bull BC One World Final every year. I try to stay focused on my goal and do my best to keep surprising people each year.
That’s honestly the most difficult part of being a B-Boy– everybody knows you. This generation has totally changed, and you’re probably doing a move once but people are watching it a hundred times and start telling you that you’re always doing the same thing!
"Imagine yourself being at the last step to the greatest title for the second time in a row and you cannot defend yourself... I was totally frustrated."
I've learned that I was capable to go farther than I thought. At first, I was unhappy after the battle... then I was happy. I was unhappy because I felt like I did nothing, it was not me, it was not my level and I was not able to defend myself at all in the final round. I have no excuses, no explanations. He was better than me, no doubt about it, but the floor was mad slippery for me and I was out of control in every single move during all the rounds. I could manage it a bit on the three first rounds but at the final it was not possible anymore.
Imagine yourself being at the last step to the greatest title for the second time in a row and you cannot defend yourself... I was totally frustrated.
But it was not my destiny to win the title twice in a row, so I accepted my fate and then I was happy. I was happy for going that far, because nobody has been to the final round on a title defense, and happy because I know I can still do much better.
You coached some French B-Boys for the France Cypher. What are your top tips to share with B-Boys competing in cyphers?
We started the project in France this year, and I hope to do it in many countries in the years coming. I watched everyone closely during a year on tour, and my conclusion was that everybody doesn’t have the same chances. Many countries have young B-Boys without a history, their B-Boys don't have enough experience or enough knowledge. During the Cyphers, they all compete against each other, but when they go to the Finals we can really see the difference. My goal is to try to give them all the same opportunity in a few years.
The French project was a great experience for everybody. I learned a lot from coaching them too. They already have a high level, but how to push it deeper, how to approach their limits and how to drive them to the top? They don't know how to use what they have. Being talented ain't enough. Most of the B-Boys are good, but they aren’t great! Most of all, they have to be patient. This generation wants more than any generation before it and they want it now! It took me six years before I got to my first battle (IBE 1vs1 2003, 2nd place).
"French B-Boys still have this wild attitude!!! We aren’t scared and we think we can destroy any B-Boy– we still have this ghetto mentality."
I'm here to share with them and give them that state of mind, which will bring them to the victory like it brought me to the victory.
I cannot promise that they will win, but I can promise that if they work hard they can at least reach their highest level. I want B-Boys to apply the lessons to their own lives and not only in breaking, because breaking only lasts for a short period of their lives. Life will catch up with them, and they better be prepared.
What is unique about French B-Boys that makes them some of the best in the world?
The arrogance (laughing)! French B-Boys still have this wild attitude!!! We aren’t scared and we think we can destroy any B-Boy– we still have this ghetto mentality. It's a part of us, from how we grew up. I'm not a fan of it sometimes, I try and just be me on stage. Who I am on stage is who I cannot be in life, but there is nothing about arrogance with me.
I have a strong look and this confidence by nature, I never act. I'm always myself. But more than all of this, I think what makes French B-Boys some of the best is our history– breaking came here in 1982, it’s nothing new to us.
You remain the only B-Boy to have gone through the Cypher, Final and World Final levels to victory. What current career goals?
When I look back on my career, I could stop now and be proud of it. I have won many world titles with Vagabonds, but then I wanted to prove to myself that I was not only the captain of a great team but that I could also stand by myself at the greatest solo B-Boy. So in 2011, before Moscow, I decided that I must win Red Bull BC One and it took me one year to make it. I made a decision, and nothing will change in your life until you make one too.
I've been invited two times, in 2008 and 2011, and I lost the two times quickly, so I had to come back from the very beginning. But I didn't just make it, I have gone through Cypher, to Final and then to the World Final. I have been undefeated 15 rounds at the BC One, from the France Cypher in 2012 till the final round of the World Final 2013 in Seoul. That's crazy!
I'm very proud of it and I don't want to stop now. I mean, I'm probably closer to the end than to the beginning of my career, but I'm still progressing and even more than the past years. I don't want to stop competing and win titles! But as we talked about earlier, I'm also starting to help B-Boys and the B-Boy scene by educating the younger generation, sharing my knowledge and sharing my experience. So stay tuned for many new projects.
Photos courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
Dance has always been a part of Anniina Tikka’s life. She began dancing in 1995, having tried out several different scenes until breaking stole her heart in 2004. Today, she’s Finland’s best female breaker and one of the most respected urban dancers in the international scene. Having made it all the way to the final at the Red Bull BC One Finland Cypher 2014– against Flow Mo crewmember Hatsolo– she is not only a top female dancer, but a battle force to be reckoned with too. Definitely one to watch, we proudly present B-Girl AT.
AT's First Photo Shoot
This picture is from AT’s first photoshoot, in 2005, where photographer Nina Tuittu took pictures of her for a book called “Breakdance is My Lifestyle.” From the start, flavor and personal style are top priorities to AT when she dances. She gives it her all, straight from the soul.
AT’s Got the Good Vibes
AT is known for her vibe and signature style. When asked what her strengths are, she cites musicality at the top of the list. AT has inspired many dancers around the world, which in turn has taken the Helsinki-born B-Girl to international stages to perform, teach, judge and compete.
"The Indian Police"
The move displayed here is called “Indian Step.” Detail is key for AT, along with style and precision in even in the easiest of moves. Her steadfast style is often not the case with many other breakers, who try to wow the crowd with tricks and big moves, which lent her the nickname “Indian Police.”
In The Big Apple
AT visited the 2013 Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, in New York. Here, she poses with her first breaking coach, B-Girl Taya. AT describes Taya as her ”Master Shifu,” the Mandarin term for an accomplished teacher of martial arts. The duo competes frequently, and even managed to win the “She Got Game” 2 on 2 B-Girl battle in Australia.
Director's Cut with Spike Lee
Joining AT and Taya at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival were fellow Finns, B-Boys Focus and Saki-1. And sandwiched between them is none other than the legendary movie director Spike Lee.
Keep the Flow
AT is a member of the Finland’s most successful street dance crew, Flow Mo Crew. Responsible for bringing Finnish street dance to the international circuit, Flow Mo has won the Finnish Championship six times. Two of the B-Boys in the crew are two of the world’s finest: Focus (second from left) and Hatsolo (right).
Dance World Traveler
AT and B-Boy Focus teach a workshop in Tokyo, Japan, the summer of 2004. The duo won the World Dance Colosseum 2 on 2 competition during the same trip. With Flow Mo Crew, AT tours, teaches and judges around the world.
The picture is from this year’s The Notorious IBE Festival, in The Netherlands, where AT became the first-ever woman to win the Focus on Footwork title. The respected title is named after B-Boy Focus, who won the footwork title four times. Between Focus and AT, it’s no surprise that Flow Mo Crew is notorious for their strong footwork and great flow!
Beat the B-Boys
Unlike many other B-Girls, Anniina Tikka does not completely solely against women. Her skill and style have proven to challenge the best of the world’s male dancers. Here, she battles at the first-ever Red Bull BC One Finland Cypher, held this past June, where she made it all the way to the final.
Rematch in 2015?
AT defeated three of her first opponents at the Red Bull BC One Finland Cypher. She was met with a familiar opponent in the final; however, when she eventually lost to crewmember Hatsolo. According to AT, it was the first time they had ever battled at an event. Hatsolo will now compete in Helsinki at the Red Bull BC One Western Europe Final, in October. Will they see one another on the dancefloor at next year's Cypher?
Photos courtesy of Niina Tuittu, Samuli Ronkanen and Victor Engström/Red Bull Content Pool
U.F.B World Finals 2014 in Marmaris, Turkey by .stance
Follow .stance as they traveled to the beautiful town of Marmaris, Turkey, to cover the Underground Funky Base 8 World Finals.
¡MAYDAY! x MURS , Beast Out The Box by Strange Music Inc.
Watch the official, B-Boy inspired video for "Beast Out of the Box," on the new album ¡MURSDAY!
DRIFTERZ 2014 Summer Reel by Allthatbreak.com
Watch the summer highlights from South Korea's Drifterz crew.
Venezuela’s Red Bull BC One All Star Lil G will return to Paris for his first appearance on the Red Bull BC One World Final stage since 2008. The Speedy Angels crewmember has also re-entered the battle circuit spotlight this year, with appearances at several major, international events. His defeat in the final battle by Brazil’s Luan at the Red Bull BC One Latin America Final 2014 hasn’t stopped him from getting in top form for the World Final, however, as he’s taking a Rocky approach to his return on the world stage. From circumventing obstacles with Venezuela’s economy to his advice on taking risks, read on as the veteran B-Boy shares his experiences of the past year back in the swing of being a real warrior.
You became more active on the battle scene this year. What inspired taking a step back, and what have you learned since?
If it seems I have been more active after Chelles Battle Pro, it’s because I was recuperating from a wrist injury and just wanted to return to battle. This year has been all about having more time to train, and really come back into the battle circuit. The new generation inspires and motivates me. B-Boys like Kid Colombia (Netherlands), Justin, C-lil (Thailand) and Issei (Japan), who really have fire in their dance, have showed me that I really need to train more. I have learned that much already!
What did you learn from the final battle with Luan at the Red Bull BC One Latin America Final 2014?
In the end, I forgot my strategy and I got to freestyle. I think it was a mistake to go that route, but I still had fun. It’s the last event of the night too, you know. It’s good to just enjoy. I really felt like a guerrero (warrior).
Was there a special reason why you chose to wear the jersey of your opponent’s home country during each of your battles?
I really represent Venezuela, but that was not my only goal. The idea is that I also wanted to represent Latin America. The back of each shirt read “Represento Latino Americo,” because that way everybody wins. Even if my opponent lost, I was still wearing his flag on my body and we both won as Latinos.
Your last appearance at a Red Bull BC One World Final was in 2008, in Paris. Are you looking forward to your return?
I am extremely happy to be back! It’s like a travel back in time for me, to return to the same country for the same event. I’m ready to give my maximum power this year and to close a loop on my BC One book.
Are you doing anything special to train? If so, what?
You can call me Lil Rocky for this training session (laughing)! I am training hard, trying many new things out and making sure my moves are going to be difficult to out-do on the world stage. I’ll intend to be ready for this World Final.
Is there any news from your local crew, Speedy Angels?
The group is doing well. Most of the guys are working on some projects and giving workshops, some others are preparing for battles as both individuals and as our crew. We have a good place to train now, but trips are limited by economic problems in our country. It is impossible to travel to other countries, since a ticket costs 10 times more than before, but still we continue preparing. We will soon travel to France for a two on two as Speedy Angels.
You are known for pushing the level of power moves, and as a result take risks in your battles. What is you advice on a more risky approach to breaking?
I take risks because I honestly see so few people trying. Many play it safe and go from there, but I learn from pushing my boundaries. My advice is to move forward without fear. It’s important not to think and just go for it. If you doubt a difficult move and only think about insurance, it can block your ability to really leave your signature in your wake… and really feel amazing doing it. I try to enter my battles without fear.
Photos courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
I’d like to share a tutorial on what I consider to be a fundamental of good breaking: the freeze. It’s a continuation in my annual B-Boy tutorials to share with the scene.
Last year I released a basic freeze tutorial, but this video is the next level, enabling you to have a more dynamic approach to the basic freezes. When your control starts to feel more natural in your breaking, you will start to develop more leveled transitions. I consider advanced freezes and transitions to still be a part of the basics, because having good fundamentals is more about having good control of your body.
But the dance is also made up of levels– there are different degrees of levels from which you utilize your moves, from your back, to your elbow to a handstand. These three examples are the most basic, visible levels in breaking.
Now back to the freezes. A simple add to a basic freeze is to elevate it to your head. For example, a baby freeze pushed up to your head gives your freeze a different look. Once you start to play with levels, your body begins to develop strength and control for your body weight. It is also important to keep your knees and thighs inward, keeping your back scooped in.
If you begin to arch your back you, will have trouble balancing your freezes. And we all know where an imbalanced freeze can lead! Hope this helps, and always feel free to ask me questions. Much love and enjoy!
Photos courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
Jinjo Crew at Red Bull Kick It 2014 by stance
Watch the South Korean crew's amazing, traditionally themed performance at Red Bull Kick It 2014.
Break The Floor Summer 2014 Final Battle: Illusion of Exist vs Royal Crew by Break the Floor
Watch Gun and Cheerito battle Lil Zoo and Cri6 at the 2 on 2 in Cannes, France.
Who Got The Flava Today? Promo at House Of Paint by FlavaDM
Get inspired by this top round, as chosen by Flava Dance Magazine.
Fellow Red Bull BC One All Star Pelézinho and I were a part of a unique project this summer called Red Bull Boom Bus. We, along with other artists, had the exciting privilege of driving across France in a 1967 Volkswagen Bus. The idea was to evoke nostalgic feelings of France in the summertime, but this was a special bus outfitted with turntables and the sound equipment needed for the different musicians, or in our case dancers, to bring our artistic culture in contact with different local cultures across the country.
We had great fun and made so many new memories. What was interesting was watching the difference cultures interact in each city. Many people recognized us and asked to take pictures, of course, but then there was our experience in Cannes. You see, most of the cars down there are luxury sports cars, and we rolled up in our loud, old bus. It was really funny to see the reaction of all the people in Riviera, with Pelézinho’s mixtape blaring from the bus, both of us getting everyone on the streets to dance.
The bus wasn’t easy for me to drive, and it made quite a racket! It was impossible to miss us anywhere we went. Pelézinho and I drove for 10 days to 10 cities in the south of France, sleeping in everywhere from tents to hotels, or not even sleeping at all! We drove, danced, filmed and edited deep into each night. For my own filmmaking skills, it was my first experience making a series, so I had to practice better methods for storytelling.
Beyond the dance, I have a great passion for making videos and have worked quite hard in the past year to create my own TVlilou channel for the past year. It’s a new hobby for me, having spent so much time in front of the camera it’s a nice change to be behind it! I do what I can to cover a lifestyle approach to my videos, from breaking, to MCing, to just having fun.
It was a great joy to be able to travel with Pelézinho. We are crewmembers, but I definitely consider him my brother from another mother. Since the first time we met in 2005, we just got along wonderfully. I spoke terrible English at the time, and he spoke not a word, which is where my Portuguese was. We managed to create our own language between our native tongues, English and Arabic and made some weird noises and gestures to create meaning.
To this day, people seem to enjoy watching us interact since we still use a lot of our original communication to get along. So between the relationship I share with Pelézinho and driving that loud bus all over the south of France, one could really say it was a multicultural experience of dance, art, language, film and more!
Cover photo by Little Shao/ Red Bull Content Pool, additional photos courtesy of Lilou Officiel
Both within the dance world of Red Bull BC One and beyond, Lilou’s name needs little introduction. The French-Algerian B-Boy is not only a Red Bull BC One All Star and one of two, two-time Red Bull BC One World Champions (2005 and 2009), he has accolades that run from dancing with Madonna on her MDNA tour and appearing in a Chemical Brothers’ music video, to several international titles both solo and with his Lyon-based Pockemon Crew.
Lilou has been invited to participate at the Red Bull BC One France World Final 2014 as a Wild Card entry, putting him on home turf for the first time in his six-strong Red Bull BC One World Final career. He also claims it will be his last appearance on the world stage. Read on to learn what the superstar B-Boy has been up to this past year of breaking, and how he’s looking forward to his biggest French battle to date.
This is now your sixth World Final. What are you expectations going into it this time?
Well, my first participation was 10 years ago, so it’s going to be an anniversary of sorts to me! I’m thinking that this will also be my last World Final. We will see what happens, but I’m going into this like it’s my last battle. I am more active with my crew now, we have a new show, and I am spending much more time at home with my family.
You turned 30 this year, a landmark year for most people but especially for a breaker. How has your life changed?
I have been traveling a little less and am trying to focus more on my own life, my family and my crew. I am also trying to find ways to use my name and my status to help people. It’s incredibly important to physically show people what is real about our culture. All these digital platforms we use today lose the sense of the real-life experience.
Speaking to your charity work, how does breaking serve people off the dancefloor?
When I participated with Red Bull Amaphiko, in South Africa, I felt like I was finally able to give back. Breaking did so much for me, and I have started my own Lilou Foundation. My crew also went to Kabul this year. I am proud. Breaking is a mode of self-expression and a way of life. It can change peoples’ lives for the better, but at the very least you can a bring smile to someone’s face and share education, culture, athleticism, artistry and more with them too. Breaking helps people in general, and for me the charity aspect is in many ways like any other artist doing the same.
Is there any special training you’re doing to get ready for the World Final?
I don’t have a special routine, or anything like that, but I am training with the support of my crew. It’s not something I’m going into solo. I decided to push my crazy schedule aside and just be home, in Lyon. The World Final will be here in France, so it makes sense to train in France.
Are there any special places in Lyon where you practice?
I’ve gone back to my roots like when I was young, practicing like crazy all over town! Literally any and everywhere I can. We spend a good deal of time back where it all started, at the Lyon Opéra. It’s the place where we all got into fights, danced into the night. We dance next to homeless people and drunk people, anyone who comes along. It’s gone back to the way it used to be– my crew has really gotten behind me and we’ve supported one another.
Does the World Final being in France have special meaning to you?
It’s not so much a special meaning, but this is really my first big one-on-one event in in France. While plenty of people argue this point, nothing is really equal to the scale of Red Bull BC One. There is no global competition like it, and I have never participated in something this gigantic here in France. I definitely look forward to it.
Photos by Nika Kramer and Homard Payette/ Red Bull Content Pool