|B-BOYs:||SKIM (Director), STONY, FLETA, OCTOPUS, MOLD, SOMA, MEADOW, LILKY, KAZINO|
It is Seoul not New York that today boasts the B-boys (aka breakdancers) taking the world by storm. In little more than a decade, the South Korean capital has developed into a hip-hop powerhouse, with super-sharp Jinjo Crew surging to the top. Along with numerous national and international awards, the group has broken fresh ground by becoming the first in B-boying’s 40-year history to triumph in five of the most prestigious championships of street dance.
Established in 2001 by brothers Skim and Wing, Jinjo Crew, or “Rising Fire”, quickly captivated the breakdance scene with stunning displays of agility, original Korean moves and breathtakingly intricate teamwork. In Hong Kong, nine dancers and a beatbox master will transpose award-winning battle routines into a scorching stage show that demonstrates perfectly why these performers are the premier B-boys. Combining ingenuity, humour and blistering skill, Jinjo Crew will entertain and astound in a searing paean to street dance.
Korean pop music, technology and everyday culture are all hot news in today’s Hong Kong. But how much do you know about B-boying? Cultural guru Steve Chung explains what puts Korean street dance ahead of the scene worldwide.
Speaker: Steve Chung (Assistant Lecturer of Global Studies Programme, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Korean street-dance sensation Jinjo Crew, the winning team in countless international battles, is ready to face challengers in Hong Kong! In this riveting contest, the global leader will compete against B-boy group 852 Crew, joined by local breakdance stars MC Fat Joe, DJ Kit and Buddy Crew. Get ready for a super-stylish Saturday afternoon showdown.
852 Crew :B-boys Drunk、Monkey J、ET、Ki、Ho b、Lil Fat、SonyGreen and B-girl Ling
Pianda / A writer who writes endlessly and publishes sporadically.
Bigki, ARChing and Louis came upon street dance around the year 2000. Both Bigki and ARChing made their start in the park, following in the steps of fellow street dance lovers. Louis saw video clips of street dance online and signed up for classes at the community centre. Louis dances popping; ARChing does hip-hop and house; Bigki loves breaking. A graduate of the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, Rex had worked in musicals for a time before he came across street dance and fell in love with it.Why Street Dance?
“At a stage show, there is the divide between the performers on stage and the audience. Street dance brings the performers closer to the audience,” Rex says. With his background in both stage performance and street dance, Rex is a keen observer of the bias against street dancers in the government’s policies and in Hong Kong society. “Why do we get driven away for dancing in the park, when it’s fine for the elderly to do their dance workout there?” While the venue management often points their finger at dance music being a nuisance, Rex says the same ordeal happens even when they dance in public places with no residences nearby before 11pm. Many street dancers take their dance to the university campus or the studio, but the streets are where their passion truly comes to life. “We look at ourselves in the mirror when dancing in the studio,” Louis notes. “We watch one another’s moves when dancing in the streets. There’s a lot more interaction between the dancers.”Versatility of Street Dance
Rex works as a choreographer for a theme park in Hong Kong, and he invites local street dancers to perform as scary characters at the annual Halloween events. Popping dancer Louis once played a funeral paper doll. Rex believes merging a character with street dance techniques makes a fascinating performance. “Street dance is extremely versatile,” Louis adds.
The four street dancers exude an air of confidence from their loving and living the dance. “Street dance is about expressing oneself in a spontaneous moment. It places less emphasis on audience reaction than stage performance does,” ARChing remarks. “Sometimes my students worry about not dancing well I ask them: ‘Do you ever worry about not writing your name well?' For us, street dancing is as natural as writing our name."Dispelling the Myths
The lack of public acceptance of street dance and stereotypes go hand in hand. In the past, many people fell for the fiction of street dance being part of the drug and crime scene depicted in Hollywood films. “It’s a different reality in Hong Kong. Most street dancers are simply dance lovers who get together to dance after a long day at work,” Bigki says.
As Louis points out, the stereotypes also stem from the use of street dance in the promotion of rehabilitation activities by many non-profit organisations in Hong Kong. “It led many to the misbelief that street dancers are either a bad crowd or ex-convicts.” Compared to the relationship between art and space that underlies the connection between the theatre and the stage, or that between paintings and the gallery, the relationship between street dance and urban space is complicated by many factors like social atmosphere and common prejudices.
If they could choose to street dance in any place in Hong Kong, where would they go? Bigki says the Legislative Council. ARChing says he will be happy with any location with sea views. Louis names the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Victoria Park, two places that are significant in the development of street dance in Hong Kong.The Way We Dance Craze
The irony of stereotypes lies in how they may be toppled overnight by pop culture. The 2013 Hong Kong film The Way We Dance, which depicts the persistence of young street dancers, was a multi awardwinning and box office hit. It changed the views of many parents and teachers towards street dance and inspired many youngsters to learn it. One of the performers in the film, Bigki says, “Part of The Way We Dance was shot at a local university. Before the film ever hit the cinema, there were 'No Dancing' signs around the campus. Now the signs are gone and we are free to dance on campus.”
The lack of street dance venues reflects the limited sensitivity towards emerging trends of pop culture of the Hong Kong government (despite the fact that there were street dancers in Hong Kong over 20 years ago). Bigki says, “In Taipei, there’re officially designated areas for street dance in the Taipei Railway Station. Many street dancers dance outside the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. In Hong Kong we’re always on a venue hunt, and it’d be best if the government demarcates certain areas for street dance around town.” The four dancers founded Hong Kong Street Dance Development Alliance (HKSDDA), with a view to fostering the promotion, development, and education of street dance in Hong Kong.
Chung Lok-wai / Aficionado of Korean pop culture, currently an assistant lecturer of Global Studies Programme at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Fans of Korean Pop (K-Pop) love the stars’ sizzling dance moves as much as their stunning looks. More than the music, K-Pop boasts visual thrills as its biggest selling point. Every K-Pop singer or group has a couple of dance hits that stir the audience into frenzy. Dance is the soul of K-Pop.
Dance in K-Pop has its roots in the street dance culture. From Seo Taiji who brought street dance and hip-hop from the US into Korean music scene in the early 1990s to today’s popular artists/groups like G-Dragon and Epik High, Korean artists have introduced what was "alternative culture" in the West into pop music and changed the perception towards street dance. Street dance, hip-hop and rap music are now part of the mainstream in K-Pop.
The history of street dance in Korea may be traced back to music played on the American Forces Network Korea Radio in the 1980s. In the 1970s, the street dance culture of B-boying and DJing gained popularity in the black communities in the US. Thanks to the American musical variety TV show Soul Train, the music of B-boying and DJing spread from the troops’ "Moon Light" nightclub to the local Korean communities in the 1980s. It gradually brought the musical culture to the wider Korean audiences.
As Korea remained under the military dictatorship of Pak Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan through the 1970s and 1980s, Western cultural trends with a rebellious drift were kept out of the ‘purified’ country. Long hair among men and clothing with political messages were forbidden. In light of this, many music artists of hip-hop, B-boying and rap left Korea for the US.
While B-boying entered Korea in the 1980s, it only took hold in the country in the mid to late 1990s. The election of civilian president Kim Young-sam in 1992 led to the opening of Korea, and the influx of Western culture including Hollywood films and hip-hop music. In year 1997, now known as the "Year Zero of Korean breaking", Korean American hip-hop promoter John Jay Chon met the dance crew Expression Crew in a club during his visit to his family in Korea, and gave them a VHS tape of the Los Angeles B-boying competition "Radiotron".
Upon his return a year later, Chon found that the video tape had been dubbed and widely distributed in local dance circles, and it was feeding to the first wave of B-boying culture in Korea. In 2001, a Korean crew entered the world’s top B-boying competition "Battle of the Year" for the first time, winning "Best Show" honours and a fourth-place trophy. In 2002, Expression Crew stunned the dance world with their win of the "Battle of the Year" title.
In view of the growing support for street dance among the public, the Korean government capitalised on its popularity and promoted it alongside Korean culture. In 2007, the B-boy tournament and cultural festival R16 was launched with the sponsorship from the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. "R" refers to "respect", and R16 features B-boy crews from Korea and 15 other countries competing in a two-day tournament for world championship titles in the categories of best crew performance and best crew battle. The inaugural R16 was held in Seoul, and the tournament has been held in such cities as Suwon and Incheon.
The popularity of R16 and world-renowned crews like Expression Crew, Gamblers Crew and Rivers has fostered a passion for street dance among Korean youths. Each year the Korean government invests approximately USD2 million in organising R16, which has become a highly anticipated international event. In less than a decade, Korea has grown from a newcomer to a leader in street dance. There is a popular consensus that Korean crews make up half of the world’s best B-boy crews today.
Beyond R16 being a major platform for promotion, the passion of street dance and Hip-hop performers is what drives the development of street dance in Korea. Many youngsters hit the dance studio after school and train up to five hours every day, which accounts for the pool of amazing Korean street dancers who outshine their Western counterparts. Competition is another stimulus to progress, since the number of dance crews in Korea has grown from a handful in 2000 to more than a few dozens at present. Thriving for the best in each performance, these dedicated dancers have transformed Korean street dance from a showcase of technical panache into a unique art of Korean beats and spirit.