Archive

Posts Tagged ‘youtube’

Looking Elsewhere: The Road Less Travelled

July 24, 2010 2 comments

This is an entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophies. The quotes are derived from his myspace post. In this entry, I discuss the following quote.

Exploring where others haven’t – In dancing I have found that particular areas are easier to be original in than others. I think that certain styles are less explored than others and this leaves more room for innovation. From the artistic perspective, the less traveled path is usually always the more rewarding one and the one I have tried to stay on.

David Elsewhere. source

Without leaving their own art, the ingenious leave the common path and take, even in professions grey with age, new steps towards eminence.

Baltasar Gracian. A Pocket Mirror for Heroes. Trans. by Christopher Maurer. In Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, p. 349.

Wonders never amaze the second time around. How many looked in awe when the first bboys started doing windmills? Remember when the audience gasped when Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk at the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown? Now both of these moves are often seen as nostalgic throwbacks to the 80s.

Quickly losing amazement of the familiar represents one of the great tragedies of the human mind. Audiences quickly feel jaded by any spectacle. If you want to survive as a dancer in a certain field, you need to perform the moves better then the dancer before you. I’m new to the bboy world (just as an observer), and I’m in shock how well the foundations of today’s bboys are. You face a lot of competition as a bboy. There are thousands of others who practice the same moves you want to practice. They may be stronger, more talented, have more experience.

Creativity plays a very large part in streetdancing. We have the ability to throw off competition by dancing on our own terms, not the terms others put on us.

I haven’t seen any evidence that Elsewhere can boogaloo. I’ve not seen him perform most of the basic popping routines most poppers judge each other by. In all likelihood, he’d have to spend years learning these type of dance. And then he’d be an average boogaloo popper.

Elsewhere took a smarter route. Instead of competing in the same fields as the other poppers, he focused all his energy on developing his own moves and taking them further then other people would take them. Look at the first two dancers in the Kollaboration clip.

Although it’s hard to tell with only a few seconds of their performance, they have a solid foundation in their popping routine. But they look very bad in comparison with Elsewhere. He performed moves that nobody in the room had seen before. Perhaps some had seen strobing, but not the way Elsewhere strobed his hands crawling across his chest, his head twitching from side to side in rhythm. Liquid dancing and abstract waving was known to some degree (though it was a very underground movement). How many had seen a person melt into a puddle, though?

It was no contest. Elsewhere was fighting on his own terms, not the traditional popping battle field. I’ve watched the clip more often then I should have, but not once have any of the commenters said that the first two deserved to win.

Breaking away from the traditional path may frighten most dancers. You may feel left behind if you don’t train the same way other people do. How can you call yourself a bboy if you don’t train the same moves all the other bboys train? At some level, most of us want to be told what to do. If we follow these guidelines, we will develop the skills that we need, then we can call ourselves dancers, or bboys, or poppers. God knows that I have these thoughts many times, often severely.

The problem is, everybody else is doing the same routines you would if you followed this type of logic. You’ve spent a lot of time training for something that others do much better then you. It is easier to innovate in fields that other people neglect.

In a way this represents a god send for most streetdancers. Streetdancers often feel attracted to the bizarre, to the amazing, to the weird. Perhaps poppers in particular feel this way, because most movements are calculated to be “unreal” in some way. It seems natural that these dancers would start looking into the most obscure fields for inspiration. The more obscure the inspiration, the more bizarre the styles and moves, as logic dictates.

There are other benefits. Tutorials and workshops teach the most basic, well-known moves. The Youtube age has provided us with a lot more diversity and access, and you’d be amazed how easily you can find obscure footage. Sometimes you can only find one video clip, with only a few minutes (or a few seconds) of relevant footage, but that’s enough to get you on your way.

I spent a lot of time searching for strobing tutorials (forget about finding workshops teaching this stuff). The only helpful one I found was from Tyson Eberly. This represented perhaps five minutes of tutorial footage (Strobing tutorial begins at 11:45 of the clip below).

I took that and tried the best I could, but it represented an enormous amount of trial-and-error on my part to figure out what to do. I had to stay attentive to what I was doing and provide myself with constant feedback. My hands and fingers were not doing what they were supposed to do, and I had to figure out why by myself.

I felt frustration many times over, but at the same time, I felt great satisfaction. I was achieving results by relying on my own wits and ingenuity instead of practising the same drills without thought. It felt more like a creative process, and this translated into further passion, into more practice, and better dancing. I try to take this attitude now whenever I try something new. I will attempt to emulate the anti-gravity moonwalk (not the Michael Jackson moonwalk) that I once saw a dancer from Street Scape perform. It’s less than three seconds of footage from the 80s, but that’s enough to get me going on my way.


(I advise you to watch the entire clip. You’ll thank me for it.)

Yes, this approach requires you to trust your passion and judgement, practice on your own, and endure people resenting you for taking a new path. I believe it is worth the effort many times over.

We forget how free we can define our streetdance. We have work shops, judged battles, and dancers who consider themselves authorities on what popping, bboying, locking, or liquid “is”. But essentially, we can take the dance in any direction that we want, and how far we want. Nobody has the power to tell you where your passion should take you.

It is an uncommon skill to find a new path of excellence, a modern route to celebrity. There are many roads to singularity, not all of them well-travelled. The newest ones can be ardous, but they are often short-cuts to greatness.

Balthasar Gracian. In Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, p. 356

If you’d like to read all Looking Elsewhere entries, click here. To receive regular updates automatically, click here for RSS feeds.

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…

AHHHHHHH! IT HURTS! IT HURTS JUST WATCHING IT!

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.

Raw interview: Poppin John (part 2)

July 3, 2010 1 comment

5. Which dancers and teachers made the greatest impression on you at the beginning (and has this changed nowadays)?

So when I first started out poppin, I thought there were 5 poppers in the world (hahah). Salah, Mr.Wiggles, Poppin Pete, Bionic, and PopnTaco.

That soon changed when I started traveling and meeting poppers from nowhere and everywhere. I felt so small. I thought I was a beast and then realized that I was just a kid that had a few good waves. Salah was a big influence when I was beginning. I was amazed by his battle attitude and how he always had the crowd wrapped around his finger….I still feel the same about Salah, and after teaming up with him to battle in Juste Debout, I have so much respect and love for him. He definitely is super humble and very professional. A very good person all around and a good friend of mine now. It was a dream come true dancing with him…

Wigz was the first popper I ever know existed and I would say he was the biggest influence of mine…I watched a wigz tape over and over and over trying to learn moves and techniques. Now wigz is the person I go to for advice on my dance and business. He always has the time to answer me, and he was and always will be a huge influence of mine.

During the first 5 years of my dance, I decided I wanted to be a boogaloo popper…all the poppin jams were full of them and I really didn’t fit in with any of them. So that was a big focus of mine. I wanted to boog sooooo bad, so I bought a Poppin Pete tape and he broke down a lot of boog positions, and I started to boog in this period of my dance career. I was learning very slow. I really couldn’t find the feel of boog and the positions were foreign to me. But I stuck with it. A couple years went by and I had been to a few more big jams freestyle session. I saw J-Rock win freestyle session 8 and that’s what I wanted my dance to look like. But it wasn’t happening so I still kept pushing it…

I just couldn’t feel it one day, and I said “Fuck it, bro. I’m gonna do me.” I started looking in the mirror, seeing what I liked. I always loved it when I saw a popper get really “clean”… isolated, animated, clean waves. Popn Taco’s a beast in my book and always will be.

[Liquid Metal: I second that opinion on PopNTaco]

So Poppin Pete was an influence of mine when I really wanted to fit in with the boog world, but not so much now. I think he is amazing and a legend, but not really what I’m going for in my dance. Nowadays, I get influenced by everyday students of mine and my crew Soulbotics . But I try to influence myself and learn new things by myself. Its easy to watch videos on youtube now and really pick up that persons feel without knowing it, so I try to stay conscience of that and try to keep my own feel.

[Liquid Metal: This echoes my post Youtube is our friend and enemy]

6. What does your daily practice session consist of (including any supplementary conditioning and flexibility training)?

Daily practice consists of a studio solo session for 1 to 2 hours. Then I have choreo practice for 1 hour. I put a wall up for myself a few years ago and said I was not good a choreo. Now im trying to break that mental block, so I jam out with a crew in El Paso. I have been getting pretty good.

Then after that studio session I head home and change, go off to the club to really session. When I’m in the studio I “practice”, and when I go out I “session”. They are very different in my book. When I practice, I practice styles. When I session, I transition in and out of different styles, flip styles, and really connect with the music.

As far as warm up and flexibility goes, I really don’t focus too much on those. I just GET DOWN as hard as I can.

7. What is the most common mistake beginning poppers make, and what advice should all new poppers know?

I think a big mistake beginning poppers make is trying to cut corners. I feel there are no short cuts in this dance . You have to learn the techniques of poppin and the styles of poppin before you can execute “moves”. I see many beginners just jumping from move to move to move, but they don’t have the control or technique to execute them…but I can also say that’s not a mistake, its just how it is today. I feel that those dancers are doing all they can with the skill level they have. If they stick with it, they will eventually learn the techniques and control. So I would say the mistake is not knowing that there is a lot of technique to learn before you can make moves look good.

And that brings me to my advice. You have to practice as much as possible to get better. This dance is a life long dance, meaning it takes YEARS to learn many of the techniques that are in poppin. So my advice is to never take a break. Always practice and try to find motivation in every situation to train more. When I lose, I train. When I win, I train. When I feel that I’m not as good as this guy, I train. When I feel I have a high skill level than this guy, I train. I find that fire in every situation to practice more.

8. What are your thoughts on the competitive nature of popping, and how should one deal with the success of others?

Well, when I started dancing that’s what it was all about. In battling, I was sooo hungry and I wanted to prove myself in every circle. I learned so much about winning losing and using it all for motivation.

But there are a few things that I would like to say about the competitive nature of poppin. Be careful not to get too caught up in the drama of this dance. We can forget that it is a positive thing and we do it because we love the dance and the music. If you cant take losing very well then you should not battle. You are putting your dance in front of someone to judge it and critique it. If that is something that will hurt you don’t put your self in that position.

That being said, competing is a huge part of my life and I cant seem to get away from it. It is tough at times to take a loss and also to take a big win. You can’t let either of them get to your head too much. And about the success of others: the way I look at it, the better other poppers do, the better it is for the whole dance. I believe that we have the most talented people in this culture and we should all get exposure and the fruits of hard work. This dance is hard to learn, and when that much time is put into anything, I think there should be rewards greater than personal expression. But that just is my view. There are many people who view that subject differently… But to be successful in this industry you have to work hard and go get it you can’t just stand around and wait for the opportunities to knock at your door.

Click here for part 3 of the interview.

Looking Elsewhere: Youtube is our friend and enemy

June 28, 2010 2 comments

This is the third entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophies. The quotes are derived from his myspace post.

Relying on my memory and not videos for reference – Like most people I have the natural tendency to subconsciously imitate movements I am frequently exposed to. I feel videos have the potential of doing more harm than good because multiple viewings make me more disposed to mimicry. Seeing Skywalker and Animation bust only on a few occasions prevented me from directly imitating them because all I had to go by was the memories in my head. Using memory alone as reference allows my creativity to manipulate external influence into something that is more of my own innovation.

This principle surprised me the most. If it weren’t for internet video clips, I never would have started dancing in the first place. For the first time in history, I have the ability to watch the greatest dancers in the world perform, no matter how remote i am from the hub of the dance community. I can receive expert tutorials without relying on dance teachers near my region. This is the first time that everyone in the world has access to this treasure trove of inspiring videos, and every dance style has the chance to spread like wild fire on a global scale. How could anyone denounce this?

But one issue nagged at me. Looking at the small selection of popping and bboy clips that survived from the late 70s and 80s, I am often in awe of the originality of the dancers. Granted, some elements of those dances may seem dated, even corny. But in other respects, the skill and creativity of the old school dancers overwhelmed me. The art of animation, vibration and floats/slides were more advanced in the 1980s then today.

And here’s the central question: How did the urban youth of the time, with almost no guidance from video clips or formal teachers, learn these incredible creative moves?

This question rose up again in my interview with Otis Funkmeyer. He wrote that having less access to footage proved to be an advantage for him and his fellow poppers. They were always “hungry”. Youtube offered too much eye-candy and didn’t produce the army of skilled dancers that he expected would come out of this trove of videos.

A few interviews with the OG poppers (from Westcoastpoppin.com) showed similar sentiments.

What do you think is the major differences between todays scene and before?

[…] We looked within our imagination. Many stylese came out in a short period of time, and those styles got flipped by the next person, you took the ball and ran with it your way. Today, many cats emulate thier dance from the sorce they are studing to learn it from. That, in my opinion, takes away some of the creative process that takes place when figuring out styles, moves, transitions, etc, yourself.

-Midnight, source

I think it’s all coo for videos and clips, but people have to remember to look at these clips for inspiration not for biting and copying verbatim. Peeps need to take from what they watch and twist it to there own sh^t. or if they are beginners, bite a lil until you are able to understand the dance better, and then change what you have bittin to your own sh&t.
Mr Wiggles, source.

We keep hearing that back in the day, no one danced like each other. Please explain.

First of all back then we didn’t have any video cameras to record different people we were lucky to ketch soul train so see the soul train line and watch the different dancers. […] everybody got there reps of there originality and being different.
-Shallow, source)

After long periods of reflection, I began to see some truth in these statements. I came up with a number of ways that people can abuse the dance clips that are meant to inspire us. I will come back to these and discuss them individually in later posts, but I will now focus on Elsewhere’s objection to mimicry. Elsewhere distrusts the ability to replay the clips over and over again, because it induces the viewer to mimic what he sees instead of inspiring them to take their style in a new direction. He elaborated on this in an interview with Oye Mag.

With all the people and dance styles that have come before you, how do you stay original?
That’s hard. I think that in the very beginning when most people start, it’s kind of necessary to copy people. But once your dancing matures I think videos can be a little unhelpful. You can watch them over and over again so you’re kind of brainwashing yourself into wanting to dance like that. I’m not saying that videos are a bad thing. I’m saying that they are good to some degree, but I just think that they are easily abused.

I like going to events and seeing someone dance, then going home and not being able to watch them again. When you don’t have the ability to watch something over and over again, your mind kind of manipulates the memory into something different. Then when you go home and have that vision in your head, it becomes your own interpretation.

Not being able to rewatch video clips therefore has advantages. It means that you may remember a cool move, but you can’t remember every aspect of the illusion. These gaps in your memory means that you have to stay inventive and come up with your own ways to achieve the illusion. In the process, you stay hungry and attentive. Your mind isn’t allowed to remain lazy because it can’t rely on mimicry. This process is more valuable then actually learning the move itself. It will feed into your originality, and give you the impetus to create your own moves and style.

Let’s look at an example that illustrates this. Mr Wiggles accidentally created his famous knee slide because of a misunderstanding. He heard that Popin Pete performed a moved called the knee slide. Mr Wiggles hadn’t seen Pete do it, but he assumed it was a back-slide (now called the moonwalk) performed on the knees. He practiced so long until he figured a way to pull it off. He did the move in the movie Beat Street and in a performance for the president.

It was only much later that he found out that Popin Pete’s knee slide was nothing like a knee moonwalk (it was more like the ET walk). Not being able to see the move even once, he used his imagination and created a completely new move.

I’m not saying to stop watching video clips altogether. They expand your understanding and can lead you into something new and exciting. Watch as many different clips of different styles for inspiration (I’ll come back to this point in Looking Elsewhere: Mixing Styles). But the clips can make you dependent and decouple you from your own imagination. Refrain from rewatching the same clips over and over again, because it will do you little good.

If you’d like to read all of the Looking Elsewhere entries, click here. If you’d like to receive automatic updates on all entries, 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!”