Photo by Natalie Kardos
“So here's the move,” says Joseph “Dyno Rock” Corrales, before sweeping his right leg under his entire body, hopping on his left foot and switching arms. His legs move with no thought, so intent is he on watching his charges imitate him. A hip-hop track fills the room, and the stars of the class, 14- and 15-year-olds with bodies like Gumby, match their steps to the music.
“You got that?” Dyno's face is anxious as he watches the less experienced members of the class (or, ahem, those completely lacking in experience), and he walks around giving quiet one-on-one tutorials to struggling students.
Dyno, along with Anthony “Kid Nasty” Manzon, teaches break-dancing at Culture Shock Dance Center (www.cultureshockdancecenter.com). Their mentor, friend and crewmember, Elliot “Kid Capisci” Aquila, groomed them for the position. When Capisci came to Culture Shock, there was only one break-dancing class, a beginner's class for kids. Angie Bunch, the center's owner, watched Capisci take the class to a whole new level and suggested expanding to multiple classes. Nasty and Dyno were Capisci's protégés before “battling” to become members of his break-dance crew, the Cypher City Kings. (Become a crewmember requires a dance-off. Seriously.)
This Saturday afternoon class is mostly teens, moving with much more grace and agility than that awkward age usually allows. A few of the students have been taking classes for a while, and it shows. Two, specifically, Allen Twiford and Andre Edwards, spin down almost effortlessly, executing sweeps, helicopter spins with their legs and precarious arm balances, freezing and hopping back up to do it again. It ain't no thing.
Meanwhile, the rest of the class is in a varying state of awe, frustration and excitement. When Nasty exclaims, “Good innovation!” the 16-year-old girl next to me blushes proudly. Break-dancing is all about innovation, taking the basic moves and giving them your own creative twist.
Capisci, helping out in the class for the day, calls out, “If you feel stuck, remember ABC: Always Be Creative!”
Creativity is how the class is able to function. Many of us practice basic moves and simple variations, coached along by a patient and sweet-faced Nasty. Students like Twiford and Edwards, likely future crew members, do further variations on the basics, taking it to another level, while the serious Dyno, his hat on sideways, watches and critiques. We're all doing the same moves, but everyone's move is completely different.
“This is why break-dancing will never die,” Capisci says. “It's a flexible art; every b-boy moves a different way.” (B-boys are break-dancers, and break-dancing, if you're cool enough to know the lingo, is called B-boying. Yes, even if you're a girl.)
There are basic moves like the 6-step, but compounded over and atop of these are thousands and thousands of variations pulled from ballet, gymnastics, capoeira, martial arts—an endless array.
“Stealing is very good in b-boying,” says Nasty with a smile, as a tiny 12-year-old breaks out a move she copied from another student.
The class is rooted in a deep culture of B-boying in San Diego. B-boying came here in the 1980s, when a few members of New York's legendary Rock Steady crew branched out to San Diego. Today, San Diego hosts an active B-boying culture, with its own unique style. Culture Shock students are steeped in that environment, dancing in front of a graffiti mural—graffiti, along with B-boying, being one of the central tenets of hip-hop culture—and being taught by the core members of the Cypher City Kings.
We end the class with a cypher, the practice after which the Kings named their crew. The class gets in a circle, and one after another, a student jumps in, does whatever series of moves she or he feels like, points to another student and jumps back out. This is dance anxiety I haven't known since junior high, but it wears off quickly as the students take turns, clapping and laughing at everything.
When it's my turn, it might not look so pretty, but it feels great.
Choo choo cha-boogie: Blue Line trolley riders will, whether aware or not, participate in performances Sept. 26 and 27 and Oct. 3 and 4 as 50 San Diego Dance Theater performers infuse their art with everyday transit in Trolley Dances 2009. Site-specific choreography will be offered on six tours daily (10 and 11 a.m., noon, 12:45, 1:30 and 2:15 p.m.) from the Bayfront Trolley Station in Chula Vista to the U.S.-Mexico border. $30. www.sandiegodancetheater.org.
Center stage: The Patricia Rincon Dance Collective presents the sixth annual Emerge Dance Festival, during which up-and-coming choreographers and artists make their debut with raw, compelling previews of new, edgy dance. Watch them break out at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at the David & Dorothea Garfield Theater, 4125 Executive Drive in La Jolla. $15. www.rincondance.org.
Malashock cocktail: The experienced dancers involved in Malashock Dance Company's fall production, Surface Tension, say, via the company blog, that the rehearsals for this show have been some of the most grueling sessions they've ever endured. See the hard work pay off on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10 and 11, at the Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, Downtown. Check back later at www.malashockdance.org for showtimes and ticket price.
Girls gone contemporary: BJM Danse, a Canadian contemporary dance company, will bring the work of two important female choreographers, Aszure Barton and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, to the Mandeville Auditorium at UCSD at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. Les Chambres de Jacques and Zip Zap Zoom have each been described as complex and intelligent with a touch of whimsical feistiness. $30-$40. www.artpwr.com.
Breaking pointe: Any girl who suffered through high school will identify on some level with Giselle, a girl who has to protect her lover from the vengeance of a group of evil female spirits. She's, obviously, the lead character in Giselle, City Ballet's season-opening show, playing Friday, Nov. 6, through Sunday, Nov. 8, at Spreckels Theatre, Downtown. The City Ballet Orchestra will accompany the performers. $29-$59. www.cityballet.org.