This blog post is to help all the Breakers who tune in for inspiration. It is for Bboys and Bgirls who know how to work hard at practice. But sometimes, we can lose motivation and it can be difficult to find a spark to create new movement. Just like a writer who gets “writer’s block,” this can happen to any artist. This piece is dedicated to creating style and moves when you feel stuck in your training.
Here are 5 ways to help you create moves and stay creative when you don’t feel inspired:
Find Inspiration in Media
Early Breakers were heavily influenced by the media of their generation. The reason the Apache Step or the Indian Step became a part of Toprock foundation is because the young kids who pioneered this dance were watching Cowboy and Indian Westerns that were popular in the early 70's. These steps were imitations of the Pow Wow dancers they saw in the movies. Another popular genre of that time was Kung Fu and you could see many dancers incorporating the Martial Arts into their styles.
More recently, you can see dancers imitating Neo, from the Matrix, doing slow motion backwards bends as if they are dodging bullets like the famous scene from that movie. Don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve seen Bboys do a Street Fighter “Hadouken” or Dragon Ball Z “Kamehameha.”
Art imitates life and life imitates art. Find inspiration in the popular culture and media of your own generation. Perhaps you are also interested in Martial Arts. Watch how today’s action stars move and incorporate that into your movement. Or perhaps you are into Anime, video games or any other form of popular media. Use it.
Find Inspiration in Nature
Bruce Lee once said, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Water is an element of nature. In nature, nothing is static. Study the elements and how they move. Move like air; swirling like a tornado, swooshing like the wind or creating pressure as you change levels or elevation. Move like water; crashing like a wave, flowing like a river or rippling like a pond you dropped a pebble in. Move like fire; bursting like hot embers, crackling into the night sky or flickering like a candle. Move like the earth; trembling like an earthquake, spewing lava like a volcano or sinking like quicksand.
Study animals. Just as Kung Fu has many styles based on the movement of animals, so too can your dance. Wu Tang Clan said, “Tiger Style.” What’s your animal style?
Nature is vast and the inspiration there is limitless.
In 2009, I took a workshop with Dyzee from Supernatural Crew. He introduced this approach to practice and it has stuck with me ever since. We use this a lot at The Bboy Factory when training our students and teams.
Apply concepts to your Breakin. Choose a concept and use it in every element of your dance. A concept could be “Spinning.” Now spin in your Toprocks, spin in you transitions, spin in your Footwork, spin with Powermoves and spin your Freezes. A concept could be a shape, like “Figure 4” with one ankle coming across the opposite knee. Try to use that shape throughout each element of your dance.
Concepts can make for a fun Cypher with your crew or friends. Each round change the concept and let everyone take a turn doing a round with that concept.
Foundation Foundation Foundation
A building is only as strong as its foundation. Foundation serve multiple purposes. It gives us basic building blocks with which we can create different combinations and show our understanding of the dance’s established vocabulary. It provides material that we can never master. No matter how good your foundation is, it can always be faster, crisper or have better form. When you are at a loss for what to practice you can always drill foundation to improve your dance.
However, the most creative way to use foundation is to find and create variations of all your foundational moves. Take a basic move like a CC. Now do it big, do it small, tap your foot, reverse it, switch legs at the top of the CC rather than at the bottom when your foot lands.
If you take all your moves and create 10 variations of each of those moves, your creativity will become limitless. Imagine creating a combo of 10 moves. Now with each of those 10 moves you have 10 variations. You now have 1000 possible variations of that combo. Now imagine doing that with a 100 different moves. Find variations within all of your foundation and you will never lack creative potential. Even when you do not feel inspired to create new movement, you will have an endless resource of movement to use creatively.
In ancient Greece, this was inscribes on the Temple of Apollo. To know thyself is to fully embrace the power of what makes you uniquely you. Many have called the 5th Element of Hip Hop, “Knowledge of Self.” We all have a different story to tell. We come from different cultural backgrounds. We have different body types. We have all experienced different things in life.
Imagine watching your favorite famous bboy behind a screen, so that all you could see was his silhouette. Would you be able to tell who that was. If it were Menno, you would know. If it were Roxrite, you would know. If it were Thesis, you would know. You would know, because they don’t look like anyone else when they dance. They have all created signature styles of movement that are uniquely their own. We call these signature moves and they are incredibly important to stand out from a crowd of dancers. Create from an awareness of your own individuality.
Know who you are. Know why you dance. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Create from that knowledge of self.
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