Competitive Breakin' League 2019 National Championships
Last weekend The Bboy Factory flew out to Washington DC for the Competitive Breakin' League National Championship. I was invited to judge and workshop. We also had our Youth Team of Roman and Savonn and Teen competitor Henry make the trip, who all qualified at the Rocky Mountain Regional back in March.
The Competitive Breakin' League is a national league designed to present Breakin' as a "Dance Sport." The league holds 4 regional competitions leading up to the National Championship in Washington DC. For the past two years The Bboy Factory has hosted the Rocky Mountain Division Qualifier. As a teacher, I focus on Hip Hop as a culture and Breakin as an artistic expression of that culture. However, we see that Breakin' is becoming a worldwide form of competitive dance. Along with that there is a need to organize a standardized competitive platform in a way the makes sense to spectators and competitors who may not have a deep understanding of Hip Hop culture. This is something our global community needs to address as it is increasingly likely that Breakin' will be included in the 2024 Olympics. We believe the CBL has created something that will be important to the future evolution of Breakin' as a Dance Sport.
The Competitive Breakin' League has created a system to judge Breakin' competitions. Judges use an iPad app to judge each round from 1-10 on Toprocks, Footwork, Powermoves, Freezes, Transitions and Miscellaneous (extra points for routines, burns, signature moves, etc.) Competitors dance in a 10 foot by 10 foot box and have one minute maximum per round. Last year we were impressed with the judging format, especially that it stays true to the traditional foundations of the dance. We were excited to see it in action at last years event and this year we were more than happy to participate again. We were even more impressed to see all the regional competitions including our own grow significantly this year.
We knew the level of competition would improve along with this growth. Heading to DC this year with my students, I knew they would be challenged by, and more importantly, exposed to the high level of dancers on the national stage. The experience didn't disappoint. The venue is designed like an athletic arena that really showcases
the dancers. The bright lights shine down and the large display screens let spectators see the judges scores. This is spectacle well beyond the local jams our students have participated in back home. First up was the youth division and Roman and Savonn looked a bit nervous. They settled down on the dance floor and were able to win their first round and advance to the Top 8.
Next up were the teens. Our student Henry was bracketed against a bboy from the Bronx and a member of the legendary "Full Circle". Both dancers came at each other strong and it was a tight battle. It could have gone either way, but in the end Henry was beat by just a few points. In loss we have greater opportunity to grow. It allows us a chance to look back at what happened and see what we could have done differently. As a coach I root for my students always, but I am not upset if they don't win. I hope Henry came home inspired and motivated. He got to witness some of the countries best and I hope he knows he's right there with them.
In the next round Roman and Savonn also succumbed to their opponents in a tight battle. The youth division is truly amazing. The level of young kids on the national and international level is beyond anything I could ever have imagined. But these young students got to witness that and know what they need to do if they want to compete at that level themselves. Ultimately, they made it to the Top 8 at a National Championship. That means there are 8 teams they ranked ahead of and countless more that didn't make it past each of the regionals. That's quite an accomplishment and as their coach, I'm very proud of these guys for traveling across the country to represent the Bboy Factory.
The Competitive Breakin' League is not the cypher jam and it's not the cultural summit. But it does something very important, especially as we move more towards large organized competitions and even the Olympics. It makes Breakin' something that can be presented to the global athletic community as a competitive platform with a standardized judging system. It creates a community that is focused on the future generations of bboys and bgirls and making competition fair and well organized for them. We know there are other systems and other organizations that have similar ideas. What sets the CBL apart is that we are an organization of educators. Perhaps we are not the most famous individuals in Breakin', but we all have students and schools. We are doing it for these students and their parents and to make sure the future of this dance is well respected beyond the streets where it came from. That may be controversial to some, but to others it is the inevitable evolution of this dance. I personally applaud the founder, Tazk (Tony Castillo) for his vision and for the tireless work it takes to build something when the community around you doesn't understand.
That kind of work requires an unquenchable passion. It requires determination, commitment and dedication. These are the qualities I believe Breakin' also teaches. It is why I love working with students and believe strongly in this dance as a tool to empower youth no matter where they come from. That same passion reflects in the students and community that Tazk has built around him at his school, The Lab. For me personally, the highlight of most events are away from the actual competition. The memories come from the moments we share with people who share the same love and dreams. Meeting new people and reconnecting with others we've shared with in the past.
For me, the highlight of this trip was the opportunity to teach a workshop. As I
mentioned before, I'm by no means a famous bboy. My brand, the Bboy Factory, is much better known. It still surprises me when people beyond my local scene ask me to teach or judge. When I was asked to teach a workshop as a part of the Competitive Breakin League National Championship weekend I was shocked and honored. It is these opportunities in which I get to share my own perspective of this dance and my love for the culture. As these large competitions will bring more and more young students to our facilities to learn, we will have to choose what we teach them. The platform to express myself through the art forms of Hip Hop empowered me and allowed me to find my calling. Each one teach one is my duty to provide that same platform to the students who give me their time and attention. Everything we do at the Bboy Factory, the Lab, House of Dance, Break Free, Dancing Turtle, Miami Bboy Academy, School of Breakin, Zoologic, Bboy Federation, the Competitive Breakin League and any other mentors and instructors I may have missed is about that. It's about the future and this trip reminded me of that. Thank you!
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