Archive for the ‘Profiles of dancers’ Category

Showcase: Paulo Genovesi (a.k.a. Hitman)

August 29, 2010 Leave a comment

For some reason, I keep coming back to Canada. I was just rounding up my contacts with the Canadian lockers when I happened to catch a video of the Canadian based group The Moon Runners. They are an amazing crew, and each individual member holds up in their own unique way. The group deserves a proper introduction (and I’ll give it to them soon), but let’s focus on one of its members: Paulo Genovesi, a.k.a. Hitman.

You can see from his above videos his incredible isolation control, his waves that creep through his body, and his ability to make his botting movements look unreal. I don’t think it’s wrong to compare his qualities to those of heavyweight botters like Madd Chadd and Tyson Eberly.

The following clip not only shows Hitman’s talent, but also the spot-on choreography by the entire group. They describe the type of music that they dance to as glitch hop. The music is defined by sound effects, and the group interprets these sounds with their unreal movements.

The following clip showcases Hitman’s command of speed changes. He alternates slow movements with quick bursts of explosive movement, which then come to a dead halt just as quickly as they started. I found this his most impressive solo.

There are many other videos of him and the crew Moon Runners, and I’d advise you to check them out. You won’t regret it. Also check out Hitman’s youtube account and facebook page. The youtube account of the crew Moon Runners can be found here.


Showcase: Madd Chadd

August 15, 2010 1 comment

Madd Chadd in Jon M. Chu’s Step Up 3d

Tyson Eberly is the one who got me into dancing. I admired his mechanical movements, waving, and animation skills. Tyson used to be in the group Elastic Illusions, which included Otis Funkmeyer. Funkmeyer taught me the importance of the robot as the foundation for other popping related styles. He also mentioned the name of Madd Chadd, a friend of his and Tyson, who Otis called the undisputed champion of mechanical movement.

When I viewed footage of his dancing, I saw why. The two qualities that define mechanical movement are isolation control and the ability to dimestop. Isolation is about moving one part of the body independently from another body part. Dimestops are the ability to stop a movement as abruptly as possible. These two skills give mechanical movement their unreal quality, because humans don’t quite move that way. It’s more about how a machine would mimic human movements, but not getting it quite right. Madd Chadd has excellent isolation skills, and probably the best dimestop skills out there. I particularly love his strobing (a series of advanced dimestops) that can mimic high-precision motor, or an electrical surge causing a glitch in his movements.

I found it quite unusual for a dancer to focus so extensively on the robot. How could one perform the robot style during a dance battle? The following clip from a battle in 2004 answered my doubts, though.

At the time I discovered his dancing, Madd Chadd had just started work on Step Up 3d, which recently came out in cinemas. It was directed by Jon M. Chu, the director of Step Up 2 The Streets. Chu formed the dance group LXD (Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) largely from the dancers of those films, and started a number of viral dance videos. These include the internet dance off against Miley Cirus and the Election Day dance off. The LXD performed a number at a number of events, but my favourite is their performance at the Ted Talks. The video below skips directly to Madd Chadd’s performance, but I advise you to watch the entire clip.

The project I feel most excited about is Chu’s new web series, The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Madd Chadd is the main character in the third episode, a fallen soldier who wakes up and finds that the villain (the dark doctor) has turned him into a robot (called Sp3cimen). It can be seen in on Hulu inside the US. Chu has stated that he’s trying to find a way to stream it outside of the US.

Growing up, I never thought I’d be interested in the robot, because I had seen some do it and it looked nothing more than just a joke. Once you think a dance is inherently bad, you stop taking it seriously and don’t believe that it could ever look good. If it weren’t for people like Madd Chadd, Tyson Eberly and Robert Shields, I never would have known how great this dance could be. I hope that the LXD reaches as many people in the mainstream audience and inspire them to see the dance for the art form that it is.

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Showcase: Brian “Footwork” Green

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

This is my feature on House and freestyle dancer Brian Green where I showcase his dancing. For my interview with him, click here.

I saw House dance for the first time at the Munich Express your Style event. It seemed like a fun dance, and I later watched a few clips here and there out of interest on Youtube. But when I stumbled onto Brian Green, and I saw something quite different and unique. Like the best dancers, he fused different dance styles together without degenerating the integrity of the individual styles. Look at the following clip, and list the flow of different styles. I see not just House, but also tap dance, some snaking, and a little bit of boogaloo, all flowing into one.

Researching him, I found out that Brian Green started to dance at the young age of 8 in Salsa, tap dance, and African dance. His brother introduced him to poppin and boogaloo in the late 70s, while two friends (Damien and Spanky) introduced him to House and Freestyling. So it’s clear that he is well-versed in a large number of dances, which allowed him to develop his unique fusion of the dances.

I found the moniker “Footwork” attached to his name sometimes. You’ll see that it fits when you see his dancing in the following clip. It’s rare to see a dancer who varies his footwork and uses the entire space of the venue.

I found out that Brian Green judged the previous years Express your Style event. Too bad I missed out on his judge demo. Pay attention to his excellent upper body isolations that he executes independently from his footwork.

In the following clip, you can appreciate his sense of timing and pacing. I have to say that his movements are unreal in this clip, which fits the unreal quality of the music track that is playing (Theo Parrish – Orchestral Hall).

Green acted as a choreographer for a large number of recording artists and dances, such as MYA. He is also the cofounder of World Soul and House Dance Convention, and also served as staff for the Red Bull Teamriders event. For more information on these events, read my interview with Green.

I leave you with the most fun clip of Brian. Here he’s absolutely freaking the beat, which is very difficult to do when executing these type of complex movements.

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Featuring: Katie Lee (SOX)

July 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I have to confess that I didn’t particularly like locking when I first saw the dance. I looked at some of Campbell clips, and it seemed to belong to a different era. I didn’t like the pointing, the clothes, the stationary stance, or the overly comical attitude.

But I remember the second I changed my mind and fell in love with the dance.

I rewatched it over and over again, showing it to friends, angry if they didn’t share my enthusiasm. It was one of the moments where I didn’t properly understand why I loved what I was seeing. Why did this one clip affect me so deeply when most locking clips didn’t? I just knew in my gut that it looked amazing.

This led to me to take a closer look at Yoshi (Japanese dancer from Bebop Crew), and the locking clips of Michi Kasuga (I focused on his popping styles before). I now prefer the locking style over traditional boogaloo popping, despite my love for popping body effects. Let me show you why by showcasing Katie Lee’s locking (her dance name is SOX).

The above So You Think You Can Dance clip (Canadian version) shows a quality that SOX shares with Yoshi. You can call both of them lockers, but they incorporate a lot of different types of dance into their style (SOX actually practiced hip hop styles for five years before getting into locking). You can see SOX doing body rolls, some waacking (I think), plus some excellent isolation and hard stops that poppers would envy (that’s what people mean by saying her moves are “clean”).

Most importantly, she dances to the music. I didn’t properly understand this before I watched these locking clips. Look at her participation in the 2009 Funk for your feet competition. It’s very difficult to incorporate your entire body into the dance and keep your groove to the rhythm. SOX doesn’t stand stationary for very long in any position, incorporates a wide range of different types of movement, but she never loses her timing.

Another crucial quality is the ability to express a fun attitude to the audience. This often veers into purely comical gestures, but SOX manages to not resort to that. Watch the following battle (same competition) against the equally impressive Loose Canon. Look at how much fun and goodwill both of the dancers are able to express.

(The song is called “Why Leave Us Alone” by Five Special. Yes, I can’t stop listening to it either.)

See how well they play off of each other at 0:59. This turns the battle into a dynamic and interactive experience, which is very different from most of my battles (the below video skips directly to that part)

Some of this body gestures look so precise and on time, it borders on mime work. In the following clip, she does a guest appearance at Flowshow 2008 with fellow locker Mayumi.

At 0:24, Katie mimes being surprised by the sudden appearance of Mayumi, then expressing how impressed she’s with Mayumi’s dancing. It lasts only a split-second, but such details catch my attention immediately (again, below video skips directly to relevant part).

Now look at the quick changes of body poses and gestures (ditto). I don’t think I’ve seen something like this elsewhere.

I found something in Lee’s style of locking that I didn’t find in boogaloo. The need to listen to the music, express your fun attitude through your body gestures and poses, and to incorporate your whole body into a diverse set of movements instead of remaining stationary. I will always feel grateful for that.

I leave you with one interview that she gave before her 2008 Flowshow gig. She provides some information about herself and a quick explanation as to why she didn’t advance to the SYTCD finals. Dancers need to excel in a large number of choreography in these competitions instead of just one (Mr Fantastic and Pacman dropped out from the SYTYCD competition for similar reasons). I understand, but still think it’s a crime.

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Featuring: Stephen the Wunderkind

July 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Some things don’t make sense the first time you see them.

In my research for 90 degree pushups, I saw a video title claiming to show someone breaking the world record. Clicking on it, I saw what looked like a fifteen year old doing 13 reps of the most difficult push up out there.

I knew that no fifteen year old could do this (save for Giuliano Stroe, arguably). Was this supposed to be some kind of joke? I didn’t see a punchline or anything. I clicked on some of his other videos.

I knew that no 15 year old can do one handed planche negatives. There is no…


Has to be fake. No way that’s real. I looked for clues to visual trickery, but since when am I an expert in visual fraud? The commenters on youtube were just as perplexed as I was.

Is it easier for a kid to do these things? Maybe, but most athletes can’t pull these things off. Geoff Craft has only been able to do nine 90 degree push ups, and he made a tutorial on it. The world record is set at eleven reps, for heaven’s sake. Unless Stephen was trained by shaolin monks or bitten by a radioactive spider, I’m watching something that shouldn’t exist.

I contacted StephenConditioning and tried to get some answers. Yes, he really is fifteen (although he stressed that he’ll turn 16 in two weeks). The videos aren’t fake. He simply trained his strength from an early age, trying to imitate the power moves of bboy Junior (the most impressive bboy out there). Stephen recorded his feats with a web cam, which explains the low quality of his videos, but recently acquired a camera. He’s already posting more clips of his incredible tricks.

He’s become a new friend of the website, and a personal inspiration. I have no excuse for not training my handstands and push ups variations now, and I will look to Stephen whenever I feel that I can’t push my body further.

To read the interview transcript with Stephen, click here.

Featuring: Eric from Liquid Pop Collective

June 19, 2010 3 comments

When I first saw a dancer do handflows, I thought the hands looked like two fish chasing each other. I didn’t even understand properly what I had seen. I found out what the move was called (much later) after stumbling upon a tutorial for liquid and digitz made by a group called Liquid Pop Collective. The most impressive handflow was contours. The way your one hand flowed over the surface of your other immovable hand, like water over a rock. Then your flowing hand became solid, and the cycle would repeat. The true expression of the liquid metal approach.

At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in dancing or electronic music (the German scene back then was terrible), but I rediscovered the video a few weeks back and payed more attention to it. Contours caught my eye again. I searched around and found the following clip. It was unused footage for the tutorial, starring crew member Eric. This took the finger flow to a new level.

I recently contacted Eric and interviewed him for this feature. He answered my questions and provided some additional literature on the electro scene (you can read the email correspondence in my previous, separate post below.

Eric was born in New Jersey, about 25 minutes from New York. He went with his older cousin to his first NYC party in 1993 and fell in with the electronic party scene. He explained that there were two separate dance cultures for electronic music in NY, the club scene and the rave scene. The clubs included the Tunnel, Lime Light, Sound Factory, Twilo, Shelter and Outback Jacks. The raves could be held anywhere, sometimes at abandoned buildings without any permits. The scene gained momentum, and club owners started to pursue the rave crowd. Sometimes they would contact the authorities and make them shut down the illegal parties, then have promoters stand outside the rave and distribute promotional fliers for their clubs to the exiting crowd. Thus, the two scenes began to mingle.

Two years later, Eric came in contact with liquid dancing.

The first time I seen a style of liquid that really moved me was in 1995 at a club north of Philly
called Outback Jacks. They had a small Sunday night party that I found when I first moved to Philly. This is here I met a girl named Chrissie who absolutely had the most unique style of liquid I had ever seen up until that point. She incorporated her whole body into her flow. She is the genesis for what my style is today and part of her still lives in my flow. She totally changed my perspective on what liquid could be.

Unlike the popping scene, competition didn’t play a big part in the evolution of the dance.

There were a million of casual dancers who happily rave skipped the night away. I would say between the serious folks like myself it was a matter a pride and respect. When someone had dope liquid it was more of a respect thing because no one was forcing you to be good at liquid but you. There are dancing jerks in every dance scene, who sole purpose in life was to make themselves feel better by belittling the person next to them.

Eric wrote to me that he never practiced at home or took lessons to improve his liquid (although he did take some classes for popping). Instead, he went to the clubs five days a night and danced up to eight hours for a period of ten years. Regarding advice he would give to novice dancers, he answered in the same vein as David Elsewhere.

BE YOURSELF. YOU DONT NEED TO LOOK LIKE ANYONE ELSE. If you like something take it and make it your own. Find you own flavor be unique LISTEN to the music and let it move you.

Drugs became ubiquitous in this scene, and a substantial part of the crowd were young middle class people with income to spare on Ecstacy or whatever else. This attracted criminal gangs to the scene, and violence became a huge risk. The most infamous gang was the BTS crew It was a loosely organised gang with no formal initiation rites, ethnic boundaries, or any particular rules of conduct (except not stealing from fellow crew members). They would often sell fake drugs by selling mints or spray painting pills. At clubs, they pick-pocketed the clubgoers on the dance floor, or scouted for other drug dealers so they could steal the drugs from that dealer. For more information, read this article

This slowly led to people avoiding the scene, which was the beginning of the end. In 2002, the US senate passed the RAVE Act to counter youth drug use. The penalties for organizing such raves were so stiff they killed off the scene. NY mayor Rudolf Guilani took a hard stance against the clubs in his effort to clean up the city from undesirable elements, and many of the most prominent clubs could not sustain themselves after the 9/11 attacks paralysed the club scene in NY.

Before the scene died out, Eric recorded a short clip of him dancing in the Philadelphia club Space in 1999. He posted it on Napster, which was in its prime as a file-sharing medium. The clip became one of the viral videos of the pre-Youtube era.

In 2000, he met the dancers who later form the Liquid Pop Collective crew. The response of the clip overwhelmed the LPC crew, and they started discussing the idea to produce a tutorial on the dance. Eric eventually took out a ten grand loan to do so and involved a core team of LPC dancers. Ricardo Rivera (aka VJ Kaboom) directed the video (he now owns and Imri Meritt did the sleeve art and music soundtrack (he now runs

The tutorial was a success, but the LPC broke up soon after. I asked Eric why. He wrote me a three word reply: money and ego.

As to other dancers who continue the tradition of liquid and digits, he pointed to the community. He also made sure to mention the Liquid Lights crew, particularly crew member Tiny Love, who predated the LPC by a few years.

I ended the interview by asking him to describe his most memorable moment in dancing.

Wow, that is hard. I would have to say a yearly party called Starscape thrown by Ultra world down in Baltimore. I think the party was in 2003. I was with my future wife and all the LPC guys. We watched the sun come up out on the dock over the water ( this dock was destroyed during a hurricane in 2004) to the sound track of MOS DEF’S UMI says. It was surreal after a full night of dancing together. Those are the moments I miss the most now a days…

More interviews to follow, plus another entry in the Looking Elsewhere series coming up. If you’d like to receive updates, click on the RSS feed button.

Featuring: Poppin John

June 5, 2010 4 comments

Being asked to choose my favourite dancer makes me uncomfortable, because I feel that I am disrespecting all of the dancers who have influenced me in their own different ways. But I can answer the question if it is posed a little differently. “Which dancer has the strength and qualities that you want to attain?” or “If you could only watch and learn from one dancer, who might that one be?”

In these cases, my answer comes without reservations: Poppin John. Isolations, dime stops, speed control, variety of styles. He excels in all of them. He happens to incorporate my favourite styles (what luck!), and his moves are always spot-on perfect.

Me stringing a line of praise and superlatives may come off as unconvincing, even disingenuous. So let me provide video footage of John’s dancing and point out why they blow me away like no other dancer. I embedded the videos so that they cut immediately to the part I want to discuss. That means that I’m going to post a lot of videos, but you don’t have to watch the entire clip (that’s your own choice afterwards).

My favourite moves involve head-and-chest isolations. I learned them first before attempting anything else.  A small number of dancers do it, but I have never seen anyone pull it off like Poppin John. Below you can see what I like to call “chicken head”

and here you can see what I like to call “head swipe” or “madd headd” (after Madd Chadd).

Note how isolated his head is from his neck and chest, and that it remains so even when he takes steps (not just standing around).

How about arm and body waves? No worries, that’s his specialty.

His footwork is varied and original. Look at his floating and gliding skills.

This clip below forced me to learn liquid hand waves.

Strobing is perhaps my greatest love, and there’s so little of it around (thank God for David Elsewhere, Tyson Eberly, Madd Chadd, and Flat Top). The best strobers are those that strobe more than just their arms.

I’m not the biggest fan of finger tutting, but tell me if this doesn’t bring a smile to your face.

Speed control. Moving your body real fast, then incredibly slow, perhaps even stopping on a dime, then going into overdrive again. Often overlooked, but it’s real important to build up contrasts in your dancing. That will make your dancing stand out. Check out his shoulders in this clip.

Too bad there’s no interview planned. That’d be too crazy, right?
You’d be surprised. Stay tuned for more.