I had the great opportunity to go to 5 workshops taught by none other than Crazy Legs, an integral member of the original bboy community when it became a thing in his childhood in Bronx.
It was a workshop that had a bit of everything – some weeks we’d sit on the floor while Legs told stories of his childhood, of learning, of making up moves in narrow hallways, of practicing floorwork on lackluster equipment. I felt like I was being transported to a new level of understanding of what this dance meant to the people who took it and transformed it, transforming themselves.
For the most part though, we’d be in the basement of Schwartz, sweating in the crowded room, with a diverse mix of people. There were those who had never dared to try breaking before (me) to ballet and hiphop dancers, to members of our homegrown bboy club, Absolute Zero. Each week we’d learn something new, from choreo, to new variations, to a bit of freestyle walking, and a pinch of review.
I learned the basic step, the indian step with transition between left and right, some spins, the bboy version of the charleston, and a corkscrew. It was hard to get used to being closer to the ground, especially as I’m taking a class now that emphasizes tall, straight posture. It was hard to control spins and to also allow improvisation over time. But boy it was fun.
The best parts of the class for myself was learning choreo, of practicing freestyle walking, and dancing in a circle of people, trying not to panic as each of us showed our take on the choreo. It was a fun and friendly relaxed environment where I was able to focus more on staying on beat and not every small detail of the physical appearance. I did my best when I let my body fall in response to momentum, and realizing that most of the dance was natural movement without need to force it. Natural as walking, Legs would remind us, when we struggled to place our arms in sync with our legs.
If there’s ever another workshop like this in town, I’m pretty sure I would go. I might even practice the steps in the next long line I’m in. Because of these workshops, I’ve grown a lot in knowledge of the art and discipline of breaking, and more truly appreciate it. Like Legs would tell us, this is our American folk dance. We should know more about it.