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Madd Chadd’s real name

September 10, 2010 2 comments

A lot of traffic for this comes from google searches for Madd Chadd’s real name, so let me spill the secret.

Madd Chadd’s real name is Chad Smith.

Yes.

New Otis Funkmeyer article on Westcoastpoppin.com

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Our old friend Otis Funkmeyer started writing popping articles on westcoastpoppin.com again. You can read the entire article here, but let me give you a reader’s digest version with these three quotes that really blew my mind.

I realized recently that the way I was taught waving, the way I teach waving, the way every single person I have ever met (except PacMan) teaches the arm wave, is wrong. It’s not how the best wavers wave. Simple as that.
And it got me thinking. The best dancers are the best DANCERS. They aren’t necessarily the best teachers. But eventually, people come along and they go, shit, how do you do that?!!? And so the best dancers are forced to become teachers. But they don’t actually know how they do what they do, so they just try different ways of teaching. Eventually, one of them sticks, and they just run with it. Then their students get good and become teachers and this method, which was not necessarily even a good method, let alone the best method, becomes the standard way that things are taught.

What I’m trying to say is this. We all got taught popping wrong. The way I got taught is wrong. The way you got taught is wrong. It’s all wrong. You want the proof??? The way that people teach is NOT the way that people dance. When I was in Calgary in 2004 learning Electric Boogaloo Style Popping from Boogaloo Sam himself, he doesn’t dance like that. He doesn’t just do the fresno. He doesn’t actually dance like that. That’s just some routine he came up with. When you seen him dance, boy, that man was GANGSTA BOPPIN. Hard ass robot. Hard ass dimestops. Clean. Quick. Shakes. Everything HARD. The fresno doesn’t teach you that. It teaches you to be on beat. On rhythm. On time. Loose and funky. But not HARD.

The arm wave is the same way. All the best wavers I know curl their fingers as the wave comes out. Nobody does that dorky upside-down-V thing that is how the wave is always taught. Why? Because it doesn’t look as good. It looks better to curl your fingers on the way out.

See, the way I teach popping, the way I was taught popping, is that you should be loose and relaxed and then when it’s time to hit, you QUICKLY tense and then QUICKLY relax again. See, this is actually a very good way to teach Japanese people who can’t dance and White Americans who can dance even less than that. Because when we see popping, we get so damn tense it looks uncomfortable. But the problem is that the baby gets thrown away with the bathwater. The best dancers ALL have that tension. That’s part of the unreal looking of popping. Even boogaloo at its highest levels is dope because it DOESN’T LOOK REAL. If you don’t have the unreal, robotic, animated, gangsta look with your popping, you are partially missing the point.

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.

To see other dancers and footage of their dancing, click here. For automatic notifications of updates, click here for RSS feeds.

Tyson Eberly

April 19, 2010 2 comments

Tyson Eberly is the one who got me into popping.  It was his online tutorial series How to do the robot that made me start practicing, and his tutorials continue to be the most helpful and detailed tutorials I have encountered. There aren’t many poppers who are great dancers as well as teachers, but Tyson is exceptional. Versatile in his styles, Tyson is skilled in popping, roboting, waving, tutting, and miming.

I feel grateful that I could interview him over email and present him on my blog. His story shows how popping came back as a popular dance style after more then a decade of neglect. it also shows how dancing can help one person struggling through difficult times.

Tyson was born in Austin, Texas, and practiced popping as early as age 7. “[T]he 3 primary influences I remember are the movies Beat Street and Breaking. And the last would be the late MJ of course.”

However, back in 1983, popping remained an underground dance practiced mostly in poorer urban regions, and “unless you lived in the hood, nobody was doing it.” He stopped popping and moved on to other party dance styles  such as the Running man and the Hammer. He continued dancing in his teenage years, but became more focused on parties, drinking “and chasing girls”.

This spread into his twenties and began to take an enormous toll on his health. He developed the Epistine-Barr immune deficiency and became “a sick 25 year old alcoholic going on 50.”

A friend invited him to move out to LA, and shortly after arriving he decided to start abstaining from alcohol for six months, “which was a scary thought but deep down [I] knew it had to be done as my health had only gotten worse.” It was in these troubled times that he reconnected with popping. He saw a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse commercial where female dancer Dusty Paik popped and waved inside a car to the Dirty Vegas track Days gone by.

(Some of you may remember Dave Chappelle’s parody).

The commercial was based on the music video to Days gone by. The music video featured Byron McIntyre and Garland Spencer breaking, popping,  locking, and popping.

Shortly thereafter, he encountered another female dancer who was “killing it” in a club. He asked her from where she learned those moves, and she mentioned  Mr Wiggles, one of the earliest and most prominent poppers (and the most business savvy, selling his instructional tapes over http://www.mrwiggles.biz).

Tyson purchased two instructional tapes on tutting and footwork. He also bought a basic popping tutorial by Popin Pete, a member of the groundbreaking dance crew The Electric Boogaloos.

By now, Tyson became fully immersed in the dance. He opened up a dance studio in the garage of his San Fernando house and trained at hip hop dance school Mellimium. He associated with and befriended a number of poppers, such as Madd Chadd, Pandora, J-Rock, Poppin Todd, and Otis Funkmeyer. He became particularly close with Madd Chadd, and Tyson maintains that Madd Chadd is his biggest influence. I can believe this, because Madd Chadd is one of the best botters out there. He is currently featured in Jon M. Chu’s dance group Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (LXD), and can be seen in Chu’s films Step Up 2 and Step Up 3d

The more he immersed himself in popping (or robopoppin, as he calls it), the more frustrated he became by the lack of mainstream attention. This led him to establish the dancing company Elastic Illusion with Otis Funkmeyer and Josh “Ace Ventura” and they produced the How to do the robot series.  It represented a great financial risk for Tyson, but it became a success. Many of the videos received millions of views, and it spawned a second tutorial (Breakdance DVD, taught by Ace Ventura).

Despite the success, it was a short-lived venture. Ace Ventura left the group to produce further tutorials independently, and Tyson broke of business relations with Otis Funkmeyer after a dispute over revenue shares.Tyson moved back to Austin and started hosting his television program Tyson TV on Channel 16 Austin Public Access. I have seen the program, and his dancing tutorials are even more in depth and original. I can only recommend the program.

Tyson also teaches weekly classes, produces a weekly radio program (the new paradigm). He was a involved on the Bruce Willis film Surrogates (motion capturing for the film’s robots).

He is satisfied that popping is receiving greater mainstream attention through programs like So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. And LXD, of course. As towards his plans for the future, he concludes: “I will continue to dance on a daily basis well into my 50’s I feel because this dance can be! It’s not hard on the body, it’s good for the body!”