B-boy shootout puts 2 teams in the finals
“Battle of the Year” is one of the world’s best-known b-boy championships. And just what is a b-boy, you might ask? The term evolved from break dancing, those intricate, athletic, spinning-on-the-head routines that began in American ghettoes.
Korean b-boy teams hit the world stage when they won several top awards at this 2001 competition and then repeated their climb to the top. At the new Melon AX Hall in Gwangjang-dong in eastern Seoul, eight hip-hop groups, including Drifterz Crew, Rivers Crew, ABLE Crew and Morning of Owl, were contenders in the national competition this year.
The team “Last for One” won first place in 2005 and will represent Korea at the world finals next month, together with the winner of that 2006 national elimination round.
To express the theme of “the evil and the good,” ABLE Crew danced to a Korean traditional musical piece titled “The Labyrinth,” and dressed in black except for a lead dancer in a white robe, representing a demon. The unusual combination of traditional chamber music and the dancers’ costumes was well-received, even though the choreography was closer to Korean traditional movements than to American hip-hop.
“We wanted to express our style of modern hip-hop, said Han Sang-min, the team leader. “The artistic aspects of the performance were the main feature we focused on.”
The ABLE Crew made it into the top four with the highest scores in the quarterfinals. where two semi-finalists competed against each other. The ABLE Crew didn’t win, but paradoxically were awarded for putting on the best show, while their rivals Rivers Crew and Drifterz Crew moved to the championship.
By the end of the evening, Drifterz Crew had triumphed. In the first part of the competition, Drifterz Crew awed spectators with their perfect synchronization, showing a masterly grasp of b-boy style. Powerful arm work, power moves and leg work tipped the competition in their direction. For the 10-man dancing group, three years of preparation had finally paid off. Their daily routine includes intensive practice sessions starting at 7 p.m. and continuing until 5 a.m. the next day with only an hour’s break.
A member of Drifterz Crew, Jung Jae-bong, aka Bongs, 29, said, “We will do our best in Germany and show our own style of b-boy moves to the world.”
Referring to the country’s rather skeptical views about b-boy dancers ― they are often dismissed as social outcasts ― Johnjay Chon and Charlie Shin of Cartel Creative Inc., which organized the event, said they hoped to change that image. But Mr. Chon sounded a bit dubious about erasing the b-boy-as-juvenile-delinquent image. “Hungry minds led these b-boys from Korea to sweep first place in international competitions. The military situation and their bad reputations made them reach for the top,” he said.
And, of course, what hip-hop fan wants b-boys to be cherubs?
by Chough Eun-young