CULTURE / DANCE
Street dance continues to flourish in the
brought into the mainstream by artists such as George Sampson and dance troupe Diversity,
winners of ’s
Got Talent in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The dance first rose to prominence on the streets of the Bronx, Britain , during the 1970s as Black and
Hispanic youth danced to the “break” parts of songs being spun by DJ Kool Herc.
Dubbed “Breakdance”, its popularity quickly moved abroad helped by films such
as Breakin’ and New York Beat Street,
and in time various styles also evolved.
One of the most popular forms today is B-Boying (‘b’ is short for break), which is all about locking (freezing) your body joints as you dance to Hip Hop, Funk and electronic beats. There’s both grace and power behind the moves, from head spins and flares (legs move in a circle without touching the floor), to fancy leg and footwork (Downrock styles). Some moves, such as hand hops and windmills, are derived from martial arts, all helping to add a ‘wow’ factor to the dance. With a global fan base and dance devotees, the best are sought out via regular local, national and international competitions.
For the past 10 years, British-born Turkish Cypriot Alper Nafioğlu has been training to be a top B-Boy dancer. He is coached by one of the top names in the world. With a clutch of victories under his belt and a growing international reputation following his quarterfinal placing in last year’s B-Boy World Championships, the 28-year-old dancer is hoping 2014 will be a year to savour.
T-VINE caught up with Alper in between his training for this weekend’s big competition to find out more.
I am a
born and bred Turkish Cypriot, living
in Romford. London
How did you get into dancing?
My love for dance started at the age of 18. I went to a night club for the first time and although the music was amazing, I wasn’t able to express myself through dance. I felt self-conscious. Limited. So, I made a promise to myself that I would learn to dance.
When I got home that night I jumped on the internet and began searching for information. There was no YouTube back then. The best I could find was a Microsoft Word document, with no images, explaining how to Breakdance. I printed it out and began to practice in my room and in a discrete area at college.
A classmate walking by saw me and said that someone in our class did something similar. I found him and he showed me what he could do, I was amazed and began to learn about a style called Poppin'. He told me that a group of dancers meet up outside of Pineapple Studios in
Covent Garden every Saturday to dance. He took me there.
I met the dancers and we are close friends to this day.
I mastered the basics of dance within a couple of months. This simple activity then became my passion.
Where has your passion for dance taken you?
After graduating from university and travelling for a short time, I decided I wanted to master this art form. I met my dance coach and mentor DJ Renegade by chance in December 2009.
DJ Renegade has an amazing track record. He is the coach for The Soul Mavericks - the National Breakdance Champions. He also coaches many other internationally known street dancers including members of [renowned British dance group] Flawless and young internet sensations Eddie and Terra, who recently appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in
I work closely with my coach, training five times a week. In addition to this, I work full-time as an IT Engineer to pay for my travels to international competitions, competing internationally at least once a month.
What competitions have you won?
In the past three years, I’ve won many one-on-one b-boy battles, including:
• Smoke and Cyphers,
• The Monsta Project,
• The Fresh Factory (x3),
• What you got?! (x4),
• Get Hype,
• South West got Rhythm,
• Eurobattle Portugal
UK Qualifiers, Birmingham
• Baltic Sessions
• Plague Battles (x2),
• Bring the dance,
As a pair, I’ve also won:
• What you got?! (x2),
And your biggest dance achievement to date?
Making it to the last eight in the B-Boy Championship World Finals last year.
Has much changed since last year’s B-Boy World Finals?
My popularity in the dance scene has definitely increased since the World Finals. People in the European community are beginning to recognise me and I have received a couple of invites as a guest competitor abroad. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make them due to a lack of finances. I'm in the process of looking for some sponsors so I don’t miss out in the future.
It’s been a 10-year journey to get to this point. It’s not just about the physical and mental demands of dance: becoming a top dancer has had an all-encompassing effect on my life.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m currently fully focussed on Juste Debout
It’s an annual event and you compete as a 2 versus 2. The winner represents the UK UK in the grand finals in . I am preparing and training very hard
for that with my partner. Paris
The next big one after that is the annual Eurobattle in
June, which I’m being flown out to as I won the qualifier in a few months ago. It means I am
one of the top 16 1 vs 1s. Birmingham
We wish Alper and his dance partner well for this weekend. Follow his progress via his Monsters Crew Facebook page.
You can see Alper in action at the 2013 B-boy Championship World Finals here: Alper at 2013 B-Boy World Championships
And if you want to learn more about Breakdance moves, check out: http://list25.com/top-25-craziest-breakdance-moves/