Standing out

Every serious breaker wants to stand out from the rest. It’s in the DNA of hip hop and street dance styles. Here’s an extreme example of a situation where standing out was important: The 2017 Silverback Open Championships, which had about 900 solo battle entrants. As one of those competitors, I felt that trying to catch the judges’ attention was a near impossible task. Fortunately, confidence and resilience are also in the DNA of breaking, so I haven’t given up yet.

With the right approach and enough effort, each one of us can stand out as an individual within the context of breaking.

The first requirement of standing out is to make a statement. (Why yes, that is the topic of my previous article.) Assuming you want to make a good impression, you’d have to convince your audience that you’re different in some way. Physical prowess, creativity, and musicality are examples of attributes that breakers can use to make statements and consequently differentiate themselves from their peers.

Let’s see what Poe One, an established judge and b-boy, has to say about this. At Silverback Open, he explained his view on how to make it past prelims, or in other words, how to stand out.

Poe covers several points throughout the three part video (click for parts 2 and 3), most of which sound like various ways that breakers can make a statement.

Here’s the problem with just making statements though: Other breakers can make the same statements, and possibly do it better. There will always be someone stronger, faster, or smarter than you.

Fortunately, Poe explains another idea that answers that dilemma. In his words, “Be yourself. Really be yourself.”

Before you roll your eyes, there’s more.

“Bring us into your world, and not just do what you practiced…Bring us into this…movie scene that you project with the notes coming out of the movement that you’re doing.”

Each one of us has our own world: our unique mix of personality, past experiences, and current state of existence. When we break, we should aim to give the audience a glimpse of that world, as it is now or as it was when we first created a given set of movements. That’s why Poe One mentions a “movie scene.” Our dance performances don’t always have to be live streams of our emotions, but they should tell a coherent story.

For example, many breakers use an aggressive style with sharp, rapid movements. One breaker might be channeling the stress and frustration that they’re currently dealing with. Another breaker might be interpreting the music and expressing aggressive themes in a song. Other breakers could be displaying their inherent traits of boldness or toughness, and so on. The movement qualities are similar, but there’s a different story behind each instance of this style.

Each individual has the advantage of having exclusive access to their world. So if you want to make more compelling statements in breaking or anything else, there’s your solution. It’s time to bring the audience into your world and show them what makes you stand out.


As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or feedback. Follow me on Instagram @glissando for the latest updates, and please share to spread the knowledge. Thanks for reading — peace!

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