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

The two most important skills are learning new skills and unlearning old ones

Learning a new skill needs to be practiced

We live in a time of change, and the ability to adapt will make the difference between growth or suffering. This goes for your dance business and your personal development. To adapt, we need to be able to learn new skills when the need for them arises. Learning new skills is a skill in itself, and a lot of people call it a meta-skill.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Alvin Toffler

Learning something new or unlearn things that don’t benefit or even hinder us will be more important than adding more steps to your hip hop move list or more tracks to your playlist.

Learning something new is also a skill that we need to practice. So make it a habit to learn something or do something for the first time often. This way, your learning muscles stay healthy, and you can move fast when you need them.

Unlearning shit that does not help

There are also a lot of things that we apply or think to know that are, in reality, detrimental to our progress. Examples would be racism (or any other form of discrimination) or the simple belief that you are not good enough for whatever it is you want to do.

Asking the right questions, identifying those things that hinder us, and unlearn them or replace them with a mindset that serves us better is a hard task that requires, once more, brutal honesty with ourselves. But putting in the effort pays off and being honest with yourself, makes life much easier.

What can we do to fight racism and support #blacklivesmatter?

#blacklivesmatter protests in Salzburg/Austria

Racism is a global issue. A part of the world, especially the younger generation that grows up with black culture, understands that. But despite all the outrage and screams for justice, most folks fail to answer the question, “how can I help?”

The reality is, there are many ways we can help that depend on your situation, where you live, what you do, and in which community you are spending your time. For example, donating, signing petitions, send emails to authorities, supporting protests, find an NGO to work with, share news to your circles that would otherwise go unheard, and much more. When you flex your google skills a little (or start your research at the blacklivesmatter website), you will come up with more than enough things that you can do that are tailored specifically to you.

I will not talk about these specific things. Instead, I want to suggest one thing that every white human must do to purge racism. I did not come up with this myself, and I did not think I will write about the topic in the first place. I tried to process an overwhelming flood of information from people much more knowledgeable and most likely smarter than me, to find the right way to help that works for me. Below I will share how I think that we (the white people) can really combat racism.

Our responsibility against racism?

We must embrace the mindset that “racism ends with me.” Racism and oppression of the black people burnt itself into humanity over generations because some assholes thought it’s OK to enslave humans because their skin is different. Of course, that was wrong from the beginning. Sadly, we can’t change the past, and we are not responsible for what our ancestors did. But every single one of us is responsible for what happens now and in the future. Doing that work is not an option, it is our responsibility.

The beauty of “racism ends with me” is that the theory is simple to understand. We need to do everything we can in our daily lives to stop racism when we experience it. If we all do this, racism would be gone in one generation. That is, most likely, not going to happen. But the more people join the cause, the faster it will.

How will it end with us?

  1. Educate yourself about the problem. It is not someone else’s responsibility to teach you. White people created this issue, and black people suffer. That’s neither fair, nor can they fix it alone. We have to.
  2. Speak up when you encounter racism in your daily life. Just speak up instead of looking away. At work, in your family, with your friends, in public transports, wherever. And don’t vote for the wrong people when it’s election day.
  3. Examine yourself to find every influence of racism in your beliefs, your mindset, and everything you think you know. Then get rid of it, dissolve it, destroy it. We have been taught over generations that racism is right, but it’s not. If you can’t fix it yourself, get help. Most of us will need it. It’s similar to overcoming trauma.
  4. Don’t pass it on to your children. Your kids can never see you commit an act of racism. They need to see you stand up against it. Children learn by watching you. If you do right, so will they. Get rid of your racist behavior, and they will not learn it. If you fail, you put the responsibility on them.

Sounds simple enough for me, but it will be incredibly hard to pull off. It will hurt to see where our own minds are corrupted by the plague that is racism. It will be uncomfortable to raise our voice against idiots who still think it is OK to treat our black brothers and sisters like second class. And it will be exhausting to do it all the time. But that does not matter because it is the right thing to do, and all our discomfort is nothing compared to the suffering of generations of black people.

“White feelings should never be held in higher regard than black lives.”

Rachel Elizabeth Cargle

I want my daughter to tell her children that grandpa was “one of the guys who made a difference against racism” instead of “yes, they knew but chose to remain silent.”

What about you?

#blacklivesmatter

Of Clockmakers and Clockworks

The clockwork will not run, without great preparation from the clockmaker.

To finish any given project and make meaningful progress, we apply two different modes of operation. I like metaphors and call them clockmaker mode and clockwork mode. It would also be perfectly fine to label them smart mode and dumb mode or planning mode and execution mode.

The point is that both modes alone are worthless for real progress. Only a combination of both gets essential stuff done.

Clockmaker Mode

The clockmaker mode is about defining goals, asking the right questions, reflecting about your course of action, evaluating outcomes, and, most important, laying out the plan for clockwork mode.

Clockmaker mode is about navigation. It’s about finding out the place where you want to go with whatever you do. Its purpose is to set a course for your destination. 

Clockmaker mode needs time, honesty, and free thought.

Clockwork Mode

Clockwork mode means to take all the necessary steps to get you where you want to be. It is about ticking all the boxes on your to-do list and making all the tiny steps that will lead you to your goal.

In clockwork mode, it’s not about navigation as you already know your course. It is about traveling the distance. 

Clockwork mode needs discipline and the will to push through uncomfortable times because you know where it leads you.

It’s always better to be part of a clockwork that you created or at least helped to create, so you know where you are heading.

The Right Balance

Smart mode and dumb mode need each other. The one provides the plan, and the other provides the action to make it happen.

Each one of them alone makes your whole endeavor and life miserable. People who are in smart mode all the time only talk without ever doing something. The others who are in a permanent dumb mode, work all the time without the feeling of accomplishment and are very likely to burn out.

It would be best if you had a healthy balance of planning and execution to go where you want to go. Define a goal, make a plan, work towards it, check if you are heading in the right direction, and adjust course if necessary.

Examples

If you create a dance piece, clockmaker mode is answering the questions of what the piece is about and why you want to do it. Clockwork mode is creating the choreography, choosing the music, fix all the dates and so on.

In event management, smart mode is defining if you throw a jam or battle, who to invite, what program to plan, what you can offer to sponsors and so on. Dumb mode is contacting all the sponsors, asking the guys if they want to come, booking flights, doing all the things at the event itself. In short: making it happen.

None of the two modes has any worth without the other. Find your balance and start your journey.

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.