B-boys rockin’ on and on

Breakdancer Michael “Frantic” Pelletier of Columbia, S.C., and Joseph Adams, of Asheville’s own Hunab Kru (a b-boy/b-girl collective), have a vision to establish a high-energy, all-inclusive break-dancing scene in Asheville.

That vision takes flight at the upcoming Southeast B-Boy Championships, slated for Saturday, Nov. 6 at the YMI Cultural Center in downtown Asheville. Pelletier, who is sponsoring the event (and literally sold his boat for the money to “make it happen”), hopes that the tournament will set the stage for a quality battle unlike anything the area has encountered before. At the upcoming championships, Pelletier and Adams hope to establish a positive environment for dancers to compete, and for spectators to experience “the physical manifestation of hip-hop culture.”

Here’s what to expect at the scene: preliminary competitions, which Adams describes as short-and-sweet battles, will take place in two categories: one-on-one and three-on-three. Elimination rounds will eventually narrow the competitors down to a top-16 bracket. From there, one-on-ones alternate with three-on-three battles until an individual dancer/team is crowned a champion, a decision which falls to three judges: Pelletier, B-boy Moy, of Houston, Texas and B-boy D, from Connecticut. “And then you’re going to see cyphering all over the place,” says Adams, describing impromptu performance circles. Three DJs will emcee the event and spin music until the competitions end at midnight.

The floor is open to dancers from across the Southeast, and the tournament offers a $600 prize in both categories. But there’s much more than money at stake, says Pelletier. B-boys and b-girls will participate to build their reputations and to push themselves and their performance style, while finding inspiration from fellow competitors. “This part of the country needs something like this,” Pelletier states, “there is a lot of talent, but not [many] outlets [for it].”

In addition to the championships, b-boy Moy will lead a workshop at Hunab Kru’s dance studio in Arden, from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6. B-boy Moy is a well known breakdancer and former member of Haikoro, a crew that claimed third place at the Battle of the Year, a competition held in Germany in 2001; Haikoro represented the U.S. B-boy Moy was also a principle dancer in the film, Step Up 3D.

Breakdancing, as both Adams and Pelletier touched on during their interviews with Xpress, is an often-misunderstood art. Pelletier defines it as “the first true dance to hip-hop culture. Big-band music has swing dancing, country music has line dancing, [with] rock ‘n’ roll you’ve got mosh pits and head-banging [and] hip-hop music has breakdancing. Breakdancing is what you do. B-boying is what you are. Hip-hop culture is a state of mind.”

“Anywhere you go, the [b-boy scene] is unique to that area,” adds Adams. “Asheville’s unique, there is no question about it, and my input has always [focused on the] positive aspects of hip-hop culture. I think, collectively, Hunab Kru would agree: We value hip-hop as a cultural umbrella that brings people together to share inspirations. [At the competition] the idea is that it’s all-inclusive; that’s the key. I should say too, that there is a lot of depth to this art form (and it’s not always positive), but it’s a reflection of our society, of our culture.”

Most importantly, the championships are open to everyone: dancers brave enough to join a cypher circle with the competitors, spectators interested in watching and breakers eager to claim the title of best b-boy (or b-girl) in the Southeast.

“We want people to come to this event and realize that the people who are passionate about [breakdancing] aren’t necessarily street kids,” says Pelletier. “We want people to understand that you can be successful in your regular life and still be a respected as a talented breakdancer as well.” And hopefully, adds Pelletier, these championships will be the first of many to come, setting a new precedent for breakdancing throughout the region.

— Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt can be reached at asezakblatt@mountainx.com.

who: Breakdancers from across the Southeast compete
what: The Southeast B-Boy Championships
where: YMI Cultural Center, 39 S. Market St., in downtown Asheville. ($15 adults/$10 children ages 6 to 12/free for children ages 5 and under. B-boy Moy’s workshop at Hunab Kru Dance Studio, located at 88 Business Park Circle, #4, in Arden, will be held from noon to 1 p.m. $15/$25 for both the workshop and admission to the championships. Hunab Kru’s info: 654-7830 or hunabkru.com. Championships info: facebook.com/bboyfrantic#!/event.php?eid=153904727974781&index=1. YMI Cultural Center: 252-4614 or ymicc.org).
when: Saturday, Nov. 6. 3 p.m. till midnight

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About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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