Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Turkish B-Boy dancer Alper Nafioğlu competing to represent Britain in world streetdance festival



Street dance continues to flourish in the UK, brought into the mainstream by artists such as George Sampson and dance troupe Diversity, winners of Britain’s Got Talent in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The dance first rose to prominence on the streets of the Bronx, New York, 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 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.

This Saturday, he and his dance partner from the Monsters Crew compete for the right to represent the UK at the Juste Debout World Streetdance Festival finals in Paris this March. The UK finals are taking place at the Camden Centre and the event is a sell-out.

T-VINE caught up with Alper in between his training for this weekend’s big competition to find out more.

Where’s home?
I am a London born and bred Turkish Cypriot, living in Romford.

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 America.

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, Manchester
• The Monsta Project, Manchester
• The Fresh Factory (x3), Huddersfield
• What you got?! (x4), London
• Get Hype, London
• Jam!, Bristol
• South West got Rhythm, Bristol
• Eurobattle Portugal UK Qualifiers, Birmingham
• Baltic Sessions Freestyle, Estonia
Battle Sessions, Northampton
• Plague Battles (x2), London
• Bring the dance, Sheffield

As a pair, I’ve also won:
• What you got?! (x2), London
Battle Sessions, Northampton

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 UK. It’s an annual event and you compete as a 2 versus 2. The winner represents the UK in the grand finals in Paris. I am preparing and training very hard for that with my partner.

The next big one after that is the annual Eurobattle in Portugal this June, which I’m being flown out to as I won the qualifier in Birmingham a few months ago. It means I am one of the top 16 1 vs 1s.

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:

No comments:

Post a Comment