MacGillivray-Brown Hall isn’t a place you’d expect to find break-dancers streaming in from Toronto, Montreal and Korea.
But with hip-hop beats booming from two loud speakers, dozens of young men and women gathered in 90s urban clad apparel in the building’s gymnasium. Together, they somersaulted and bent their bodies to the rhythm of the music as if they were made of rubber.
Steal the Scene, the first breakdancing event of its kind at Queen’s, opened on Oct. 3 with 18 dance crews from across Canada and around the world.
The breakdancers battled it out in a cypher — a form of freestyling where dancers gather in a circle and dance, one by one, in the centre of the circle as part of a creative dialogue.
Student dancers participating in a cypher on Saturday as part of Steal the Scene.
Some dancers did the splits and twisted their legs like shoelaces, while others tried to outdo them by sliding across the stage and doing headstands. Another joined in and spun on his back across the floor, legs spread wide.
The Queen’s breakdancing club Kinetiq Crew organized the show, which ran in three installments.
In Saturday’s main event, the dance crews battled it out for the grand prize of $500. On Sunday, the acclaimed Korean dance instructor Dark Horse led a breakdancing workshop on building greater connections to music and audience.
Although there have been annual breakdance competitions at Queen’s in the past, it’s the first time head organizer Minji Kweon has organized a competition as large as Steal the Scene.
It’s also the first time the competition has had an international reach — an appraised Korean b-boy dancer and coach flew in for the competition to serve as a judge.
“We’ve had big shows before, but this is the biggest in terms of outreach,” organizer and Kinetiq crewmember Tiffany Leung said.
“I mean, we’re flying in b-boys from Korea!”
With b-boys and b-girls — a term used to refer to male and female breakdancers — streaming in to Kingston for the three-day event, you’d think the rivalry would be intense.
But Leung said while competition is fierce, the best thing about b-boying and b-girling is the sense of community.
“When you go to an event and see the dancers, you get really inspired, and we wanted to provide the same opportunity to the community,” Leung, ArtSci ’18, said.
Leung, who only started breakdancing in her first year, was inspired to audition for Kinetiq after watching a b-girl breakdance at a Flow event.
She said watching the b-girl dance inspired her to give the male-dominated field of breakdancing a chance, and she now hopes to expand the Kingston breakdancing community and inspire other girls to get involved.
“You don’t think of a breaker as a b-girl and we need to get rid of that stigma, because there’s no reason why girls can’t dance either.”
While becoming a skilled break-dancer is time-consuming and physically demanding, Marcel Frost — one of the three judges with 12 years of international experience as a b-boy — said he looks for people who can share their personal stories in an original and honest way.
Skilled dancers can use the beat and dance movements to convey a specific message, he said.
Having visited Kingston several times before, Frost said it’s always good to be back.
“I want to see people dancing, having a good time, executing their stories and breaking free,” he said.
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