Category: blog

This is my general blog category.

Most entries, that are not part of the documentaion of my work, are going here. Therefore you find a collection of different topics. You can further refine the shown topics with the use of tags.

#blog

About Asking The Right Questions

You need to put the right questions in your book to get answers worth your time

For me, creating any kind of artistic work and most of my regular work is about asking and answering questions. To maximise the potential of our work and the answers, it is essential to ask the right questions. To find the questions that are worth your time and the time of your audience.

Whole industries ask and answer the same questions over and over. In advertising and marketing, it is often about how to reach the maximum amount of people. How to keep their attention for the longest time possible.

As artists, it is our responsibility to ask different questions, to show the world that there is more than what they are used to see. As artists, we ask questions that go deeper. We avoid scratching the surface by only interrupting the audience on social media because we have something to say that needs more attention than the swipe of a finger.

We want to ignite thoughts and spark ideas, or at least take their thoughts away from the everyday business for a short while. You can’t do that by touching the same topics, they already know. You can do it by asking questions that matter.

I believe if asked the right questions, most people will use their answers to lead themselves to an appropriate outcome. 

Mary White

What questions are these? Probably the same questions that really matter to you. Find out which questions you want to be answered and then do it. If you care for the questions you ask, people will too because someone genuinely exploring an interesting topic, is always worth following.

Dance Smart Available Now

Dance Smart is now available on Amazon

Finally “Dance Smart: Dance Concepts for all Hip-Hop Styles” is available. From Dec 23 to Dec 29, you can grab it at a discounted introductory price of 1 Euro for the ebook and 10 Euro for the paperback. Exact prices will vary due to your local VAT rate.

Dance Smart - Concepts for all Hip Hop Styles is now available

Here are some first reaction from early readers:

A very well written ragbag of how to improve your dancing! For me a dancer’s must-read!

Stuggi

Very useful tool-kit for everybody who wants to level up their dance!

Vanny

I also received very valuable feedback on how to improve my writing and presentation of the concepts, that will, for sure, find its way into an updated version later down the road.

Thanks everyone for the support.

Why I call it Breaking instead of B-Boying and Breakdance

Illustration with Breakdance and B-Boying/B-Girking crossed out

Today I will give you my 2 cents about terminology: Do you call it breaking or Breakdance? Or is it B-Boying? Read about my absolutely subjective, personal opinion.

It’s called Breaking

I call the dance that I love breaking. I consider it to be the correct original term, which also makes sense as B-Boys & B-Girls initially danced to the break of the record. Therefore the term B-Boy refers to Break-Boy. I am aware that Bronx-Boy is also a common meaning, but the word Bronx-Boy relates to where one comes from and not what he dances, so I go with the other one.

B-Boying is also a thing, but I’m not too fond of it

The term B-Boying is also accepted and common within our scene, but I don’t like and use it for multiple reasons:

  • It names the dance after the dancer, but the name of the dancer is, in my books, already named after the dance. You would not say Break-Boying, would you?
  • The word B-Boying does not flow well about my lips when I try to say it. 🙂
  • B-Boy and B-Girl are terms that have a gender. Using B-Boying as the name for the dance opens up a lot of questions like: Is it B-Girling if a female does that dance? If so, do we just call it different, or is it another thing? If it is another thing, can B-Girls do B-Boying and vice versa? What happens if we enter the realm of transgender and so on? For me, that whole discussion is an endless loop that I don’t want to be a part of. For me, B-Girls and B-Boys are Breakers and do Breaking.

Breakdance is the no-go

Breakdance is a term that was introduced by a British music promoter who could either not remember Breaking and made up Breakdance on the spot or just said it the wrong way.

The term has nothing to do with the people who created our dance. If you use it for promotional purposes because the uninitiated would not show up otherwise – it’s your obligation to teach them about it in your first class. Yes, I am serious about this.

Here you have it. My highly biased, personal opinion about the Breaking/B-Boying/B-Girling/Breakdance discussion.

My best Memories of Red Bull BC One 2019 in Mumbai

India's B-Boy Flying Machine posing in the streets of Mumbai
India's B-Boy Flying Machine posing in the streets of Mumbai. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

Yesterday I came back home from the Red Bull BC One World Final 2019, which went down in Mumbai/India. The trip was an outstanding experience, and I want to share some of my experiences here. As Manny and I already covered the event itself as part of our work, I will not talk about everything that happened there. You can find the links to those stories below:

Flying Machine disses Robin while jumping
Flying Machine from India vs Robin from Ukraine.
Photo: Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool

I want to share my experiences with the Indian dance scene and the culture instead. Here is what stood out at my time in Mumbai:

  1. The hospitality: being friendly and helpful seems to be part of the culture in India. Never before, I have experienced a welcome as warm and honest as during that stay in Mumbai.
  2. The enthusiasm for the hip hop culture: the Indian dancers celebrated the dance, the music, and the gathering in the name of hip hop on a whole other level when compared to events in Europe. As Poe One pointed out, most of these dancers have never been outside of their country, and seeing all the dancers that they only know from videos alive in their home country made the crowd go wild.
  3. The positive vibes in the Cyphers: Sadly, I didn’t have the time to dance with the local guys a lot, but I managed to make my way into one cypher during the camp. What should I say? My level is nowhere near that of a BC One competitor or even a BC One Cypher winner. Nevertheless, the dancers cheered for everyone and appreciated every round that was rocked in the circles. Also interesting: when the music was right, breakers and hip hop dancers shared the cyphers without the urgent need for separating. Watch and learn, Austria. 🙂
  4. The freedom in dance. Probably as a result of the two points above, most dancers (also from abroad) had an easy time to let go of the pressure that comes from the competitive mindset that usually is present in our dance. That led to people dancing more freely and giving way funkier rounds than we are used to.
  5. The will to connect: During the World Final itself, I was sitting in a sector with dozens of b-boys from India. Connecting with these guys was super easy, and we casually exchanged opinions and stories during the finals.

All in all, this trip was an outstanding experience, and I learned a lot about life and dance in these few days. Also, the energy of the dancers from India refueled my desire to get back into dancing.

All that’s left to say is: Thank you so much for the beautiful experience and the outstanding trip. ābhārī hōṅ

The cocky battle attitude

A dude showing a middlefinger

Let’s talk about attitude, more specific the attitude people bring to competitions. For the sake of my post I will refer to battle attitude as the character and manners that we display in the battle when interacting with our opponent.

Everyone has his own battle attitude, that is defined by who he or she is as a human. It’s built from experiences and how we approach the dance. So far so great. But there is one thing that really bothers me: the cocky battle attitude. It’s still the prevalent way most people go into battles. And it does not make any sense, that it is this way.

Being cocky and aggro towards your opponent is fine when you have beef. That’s as far as I know the reason where this attitude comes from. But we don’t have beef with most people we battle, do we?

A lot of people think, or are maybe thaught, that this attitude is a part of the game and they take it and put it into their dance without thinking about it. I want to challenge this fact and tell you that there are actually more reasons to avoid that attitude, than to use it.

But hey, let’s take it the other way around. There is one very specific case where it makes sense to act cocky and maybe even to be an asshole towards your opponent. This is when you and your opponent are on the same level and you have a chance to mess with his head so that he cannot perform at his best.

Now some points against it:

  • When you are better than your opponent and you can simply outdance him, being unnecessary cocky only leaves a bitter taste behind after the battle and makes you dislikeable in the minds of the crowd and judges.
  • When your opponent outclasses you and you act arrogant, it simply makes you look stupid.
  • If you are young on the scene or in a foreign place and are cocky to some cats that you don’t know, it might happen to you that you give someone a dick who is a local pioneer. And despite these guys probably not having an issue with it, everyone else who knows, will just be like: “WTF”.

I am sure everyone can see the pattern above. If it is not part of the strategy that makes you win the battle, it works against you, every time. And while judges try to be objective and not consider things like this most of the time, the subconsciousness still factors sympathy in.

My suggestion: be confident with your skills and beat them with a smile.

What’s your take on this? Did I miss something crucial? Pop me a comment if you think so.

The Matrix Metaphor

Matrix code with the text "what has been seen, can not be unseen"

The movie “Matrix” from 1999 is referenced daily to describe moments where people are aware of or unaware of different situations. We use the Matrix Metaphor to state that some newly gained knowledge changes the way we think or radically perceive our surroundings.

Typical moments of insights in a dance career are:

  1. The connection to the music is more profound than the regular drumbeat.
  2. There is something like the quality of movement.
  3. It’s seriously interesting if people come up with their own creative moves.
  4. That music is telling a story.
  5. Some dancers tell stories with their dance.
  6. You can dance to multiple instruments at the same time.
  7. I must learn and master everything.
  8. (years later) I don’t.

Of course, everyone has his personal insights that transform his way of thinking.

In the dance field (and I guess in all arts), I feel the tendency that we want to consume the work of people that explore the same topics as we do. Another side of the matrix is that things, once understood, can’t be unseen.

You know… I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know when I put it in my mouth; the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy, and delicious. After nine years… you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.

―Cypher justifying his decision to betray his friends and re-enter the Matrix.

This means that we might perceive the dance of others who did not experience the same insights as we did as immature and unformed. And the more we learn about dancing, the more we take for granted and postulate it has to be a certain way. We neglect that others are on a different point in their development or maybe even on a different path.

This is one of the reasons why a lot of experienced dancers state that they are bored with events. The longer you are in the scene, the more you have seen and the further you move away from the average level of knowledge.

What we sometimes don’t think about is that the dancer we see might explore an aspect of the dance that is beyond our comprehension. So, let’s not be too quick to judge.

This article is a translation (and slight rework) of an old text that was originally in German. Comments might reflect that.

Supporting the community

A local clothing pop-up store at an event
The clothing Market at Circle Industry 2019 | foto: Christian Poschner

Hip Hop is a culture that lives and thrives through the activities of its members. So far so cool. When we talk about supporting the scene or culture most people think about big things like throwing a jam, founding a crew, organising parties, teaching classes and so on. Not exactly things that everyone is going to do, because of to little time, knowledge, money or other reasons.

What I want to talk about today are three easy ways that everyone can utilise to support and keep the momentum for everyone going. Things that most people don’t think about when talking about community backing.

Be at the events, take a class or visit a show

While a lot of people think about organising jams or teaching as a way of support, there is another side to it as well. Being at the events or in the class is also a kind of support? How so, you ask? Given that you pay for your entry or for being in the class you support the promoters or the teacher and therefore enable them to invest their time in doing what they do. This helps the scene grow. Same goes if someone has a gig.

On the other hand: If you could afford to buy a ticket but try to get on the guest list every time, you actually decide not to fully back the guys that are doing their thing.

Spread the Word

Often overlooked but it goes a long way. Tell people about what is happening. Do it in person if you meet someone who might be interested. Hit that like and share buttons on social media. It costs you nothing but a click but potentially shows the event to dozens of interested people, sometimes hundreds or even thousands.

If only one of the newly reached guys comes, it was worth it.

Buy from your community

This is not only true for food. Hip Hop has many small clothing labels, independent DJs, music producers and more creative peeps that create stuff. Buying their clothes, albums or whatever they are creating instead of the shirt at H&M or listening to their music only via Youtube, once again enables them to keep going.

Here you have it, three easy ways to support your community that do not require extraordinary amounts of time, skills or dedication.

If you can think about more of them, let me know in the comments.

Of Freestyle and Choreography

Foto von Expanding Energy
Expanding Energy / Davis Freeman - Random Scream / Sommerszene 2011

Sometimes people argue about stupid shit. A prime example for this is the discussion of freestyle vs choreography in hip hop dance. What this discussion misses is that freestyle and choreography are the same things but under different conditions. Both are about the creation of our dance, one of them is spontaneous and the other in a slow and very reflected process.

Before we jump into the topic itself: for the sake of this article I refer to freestyle as “improvisation within the boundaries of a dance-style” and not “do whatever you want”.

Here are my two cents why this discussion does not go anywhere and why you should be able to freestyle and create choreography. To make my point more clear, I will use my favourite metaphor where I compare dance to a language.

The moves we have in any given style are comparable to words in a language and therefore form our vocabulary. Our grammar is the flow of the style and how we connect our moves to form our dance being the text that has a meaning that is created by the combination of words. And finally in hip hop and it’s related styles, music is the topic we talk about.

The difference between dancing freestyle or a set choreography is like the difference of talking free versus reciting a poem. Both are fine at the correct time. You can make a serious impact by having the right poem at hand for the right occasion, but bringing a poem about the beauty of x-mas in a discussion about the ecologic crisis is just stupid.

At the same time, you miss out on a big part of the beauty of choreography if you don’t understand how the moves connect. This is the same as learning a poem in a foreign language when you can tell it to people but don’t know what it means.

And you can’t say you are a master of a language/dance if you can’t create a speech/choreography to a given topic.

This means: there is no “which is better/superior/whatever”. You need to understand both to master your craft. There is nothing wrong in specialising in one or the other if you want. But if you choose to do so, don’t divide what’s one in an artificial discussion and openly admit that you don’t care enough to put in the work to learn both.

acknowledge your roots

Every great thing that happens has it’s roots somewhere. Hip hop freestyle is based on social dances and breaking took a lot from rocking and martial arts. Even krumping, which is not officially hip hop, can not deny that it has roots inside the hip hop culture. The music we krump to evolved from hip hop music, some of the moves that are used in krumping have been there before in the hip hop dance styles.

And you know what? There is nothing bad about that. Cultural movements can part, despite the fact of having common roots. What’s not ok, is denying your roots. None of us would be doing what we do, without the people who layed down the foundation. And there is a foundation to everything new, because nothing comes from nowhere.

If you have inspiration in other things, don’t deny it, own it.