Tell us first of all how you got started in dancing?
Well it was a combination of a lot of things. Partly because I’d
seen a few guys in my school doing it. Fridays during lunch time they
would play music at “The Quad,” which is essentially the school’s
central point. People would go down there and just dance. There would
always be a little circle down there and some guy would go in the middle,
usually these house dancers. It was around this same time that I was going
to raves and dance parties, and I saw a lot of dancing and realized that
dancing kind of made you cool. If you didn’t know how to dance then
you were a dweeb. All these things put together made me want to get started.
Especially at the raves I would see the breakers there and that really
struck a cord with me. I didn’t really have the desire to be a weird,
crazy dancer. I just kind of wanted to know how to dance so I could fit
in. That interest in dancing kind of blossomed into more of a wanting
to impress the shit out of everyone. It became my lifestyle, my whole
way of living and thinking for a good several years there in the beginning.
I just basically started in my bedroom recording myself on a daily basis.
How old were you
then, and how heavily did you get into it at first?
I would say 17. It was my junior year of high school. That summer
from my junior year to my senior year I was pretty much dancing non-stop.
I think I had a job, but it was pretty much job and then straight home
to practice. I was really motivated to be a good dancer. I had seen this
one video at a friend’s house. It had this one dancer, this Asian
guy with a blue windbreaker. He was at a contest and was, by far, the
most talented dancer there. He really struck a chord with me and influenced
my dancing. He was sort of the basis for my style in the very beginning.
Then I pretty much…it’s kind of whacked, but I copied what he
had. But one of the things I noticed when I was trying to copy him was
that I couldn’t copy it exactly. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t
copy exactly what he did. At first it was a frustrating thing, but then
as time went on I learned that, that was a good thing. That was actually
me putting my own spin, my own style into it.
As time progressed—probably
two or three years—I realized that the overall consensus within the
dance community was to be original. Being original is virtuous. Copying
is a bad thing. The combination of realizing that originality was held
in such high regard and the fact that I was failing at copying made a
light bulb go off in my head. I decided I should just create my own style.
More and more I just fed into that mentality and developed what I have
now, which is, I think, a semi-original style. Of course nothing is purely
original. You get influenced by a lot of things. One, obviously, is all
the people in the breaking scene.
What other kinds
of influences have you had?
There are a lot of things that have nothing to do with dancing, but
which drew my attention. For example, I like mimicking a lot of things
in nature or the way machines move. Like the way the wind moves certain
things, the way water moves and creates waves, or animalistic types of
Would you describe your style as unique?
I think it’s unique and not at the same time. I know a lot of
other dancers that do pretty much the same thing I do: get influenced
from external things that are not related to dancing. A lot of people
in the Detours video I’m in have that same mentality. But it is unique
in the sense that everyone gets influenced from completely different things.
So it really varies from person to person. I don’t think any two
people would have the same influences because everyone has different interests
and different ways of looking at the world. In that sense what everybody
does is unique.
How long did it
take you to get to the point where you felt comfortable performing?
Well…comfortable? I’m still not comfortable. I still get
really nervous when I perform, although not as nervous as I used to get—especially
now that I’ve gotten several TV gigs, which are pretty nerve-wracking.
When I do get nervous I tense up and just do what I know. That’s
why people that have seen my clips have seen me do some of the same moves.
When I’m not as comfortable as I could be, I tend to do things that
I know I can do.
The first time I really performed in front of a big crowd was probably
a year after I started dancing. It was in front of my school at The Quad,
which I described to you earlier. My friends basically pushed me into
the circle. I actually took out this house dancer, this guy who would
go in circles and try to show off. I basically shut him up because he
didn’t know how to break…all he did was his house dancing. I
got a pretty big ovation from the people and that day really stuck with
me. It was a huge, huge confidence booster.
My whole life I’ve
been kind of the shy guy who doesn’t say too much—except when
I’m talking about something I’m interested in. That performance
sparked confidence in me because I showed myself that I could actually
perform and do well in front of people. From there on I started performing
a lot more often and it snowballed into more and more performances, gigs,
and talent shows. I would go to parties, clubs, and breaking events.
How much would
you say your style and abilities have changed since you started out?
It’s hard to say…probably not a whole lot, just because
since pretty early on I decided to create my own style and develop something
unique. Since then I’ve pretty much stayed on the same wavelength—looking
to myself to create instead of looking to other people. I’ve always
been into that weird kind of eerie electronic style of music, and it kind
of played into the way I danced. I come off in an eerie way. My intention
is to make people uncomfortable in a way that’s interesting…so
they don’t fully recognize what they’re seeing and they’re
taken aback by it because it’s weird. It’s unknown. It’s
something new to them.
How does your family
feel about your dancing, and how did they take it at first?
They’re kind of used to it now. When I first started doing it
they were pretty cool. If anything my dad was a little bit against it.
My dad is a very practical type of person. He grew up kind of poor, and
he doesn’t want me to waste away my life on something that’s
not going to pay the bills. So he was a little more wary of it. But once
they saw how I loved it, for the most part, they were pretty supportive
They even stopped putting their cars in the garage so that I could have
my little studio.
They must be proud
of you now that you’ve gotten national TV appearances and movie roles?
I don’t know. They haven’t really patted me on the back
too much. I’m just guessing that they’re really proud of me.
I hope they are. From what I hear when people come over they have my TV
appearances on tape and show everyone.
How much do you
Well it’s changed. When I started it was everyday, as much as
I possibly could. I would come home, open the garage, and practice until
it was dark. Then when I started college, it took less of a priority,
but I was still doing it on a pretty regular basis. Nowadays I almost
never set time aside to practice. I practice whenever I feel like it.
It’s spontaneous practicing. Whenever I’m listening to music
and I hear a good track, I get off my ass and practice in front of the
mirror for a good two minutes. Right now it’s not a big priority,
because I have a job now and I’m doing other projects that kind of
take away from my dancing.
You were recently
on the Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and Steve Harvey shows, so it seems like
now that you don’t put as much time into it is when you’re getting
It’s very ironic. Now that I’m kind of settled down all
these gigs are coming up. It’s not upsetting though. These gigs are
cool and all, but I really don’t see it happening forever. I never
really expect mainstream society and the media to take what I do seriously.
I think the reason I’m getting a lot of gigs now is because it’s
something new. It’s something different. People are used to seeing
the regular styles of breakdancing, but then when something a little bit
different comes along it’s like, wow! After a while people will know
who I am, and then I’ll be old news. The thing about dancing is that
it takes so long to develop these styles and moves. I’ve been dancing
for eight years, and I’ve experimented for countless hours. Some
of these moves have taken me years to perfect, but they only take a few
seconds to perform. And then if people see one of your moves a couple
of times they say it’s old. Talk about a lot of work for not that
much pay off. Dancing is for people that want to do it for the love of
How the heck do
you come up with some of those crazy moves?
In one word: experimentation. It’s experimenting with the potentials
of what your body can do. Some come very easy. Other times I have a concept
for a move and I have to develop it by practicing it until it looks the
way I want it to. It varies from move to move. There are moves that I
basically thought of in a second.
Your body seems
like it’s double-jointed.
I’m not double-jointed at all. The only place where I am double-jointed
is my thumbs, which doesn’t even matter. I would say I’m probably
a little more flexible than most people in certain areas, mainly my shoulders
and my ankles, but I wasn’t born that way. Those areas became flexible
because of years of practicing.
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
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.
To what extent
are your moves choreographed versus just letting it flow?
It’s about…I would say 75% all freestyle and 25% pre-choreographed.
But the thing is a lot of my freestyle is in a sense pre-choreographed
because even though I’m doing things off the top of my head, they’re
small routines that I already know how to do. For the most part when I
do go out in a circle or during a contest, I’ll usually think of
two or three moves to do during that set. I’ll have those moves like
on standby in my brain. And then everything else in between those moves
will just come off the top of my head.
When popping and
breakdancing first became popular back in the day it was pursued mostly
by blacks and Latinos. Today it seems like the scene is a lot more diverse.
Is this true and why do you think it’s changed?
I definitely think it’s true. There is no doubt that the first
people that started breakdancing were Puerto Ricans, blacks, and Hispanics
in New York City. I think that the reason why it started off as a minority
thing is because the inner city is fertile grounds for artistic expression
to arise. Because of all the negative circumstances around you, like gang
activity and drug use, there’s all this youthful energy that’s
looking for a positive outlet. I’m from Santa Ana, California. When
we battled other people from nice areas like Costa Mesa, we totally destroyed
So why is it more
I think that a big reason is the media. We have the Internet, which
is a huge way of communicating, learning, and gaining information. There
are so many different ways to learn about the breaking scene online. You
can live out in Kansas and still be in cahoots with what’s happening
in the scene. You couldn’t have that back in the day. When it was
first starting all you had was word of mouth. TV was there and when breakers
did get on TV and the movies, that’s when it became mainstream. The
reason it’s so diverse now is because so many people have access
to it. It’s easier to know what’s going on, to learn the moves
and to learn the names of the moves now because of the Internet.
But even though
more people have access to it now, wasn’t it a lot more popular back
In the 80’s, yeah. Again that was because it was a new phenomenon.
It was something that nobody had ever seen before, whereas now it’s
been seen and some people consider it played out. I think a lot of people
just appreciate it for the nostalgia factor. But at the same time if you
watch MTV every other video has some kind of breakdancing in it. So I
don’t know if it’s because of the nostalgia factor or just the
fact that breakdancing is interesting to watch.
Maybe it will fluctuate on and off. I can’t really tell the future,
but I think it will always be in a state of flux, fluctuating from semi-popular
to underground. Just like everything else, things come in and out of style.
But who knows, I hope it gets more popular.
Have you seen a
notable difference in its popularity during the time you’ve been
It’s gotten more popular. When I started dancing it was around
the time when things started picking up in LA (around ‘96 or ‘97).
It’s not a huge, overwhelming difference, but I can definitely see
that it’s more popular. For instance there are way more events nowadays
then when I first started.
When it comes to
street dancing, it’s not like there’s an Olympics or some kind
of World Championship. What does someone like you strive for since there
are few official awards.
I kind of like the fact that there is not one big event that dictates
who’s the best. I kind of like that there’s a lot of different
events and you might be the best at one event but you’re not at another
event. Because I think it’s impossible to say, “This person
is the best.” It’s like saying Picasso was the best, or Da Vinci
was the best. Dancing is first and foremost an art form, and art is a
subjective thing. Someone might like how I dance and someone might hate
how I dance. Who is to say who is right and wrong? That’s the beauty
of dancing and artistic expression.
The competitive aspect
is good though. I like the fact that there is competition and battles,
because that only makes you better. One of the big reasons I practiced
really hard was for the sake of competition. I wanted to basically take
everybody else out.
off contradicting yourself then.
I am contradicting myself, and battling is kind off a contradiction.
Every time there‘s a big battle at an event there’s always somebody
that disagrees with the judges’ outcome. So it’s like you had
Picasso and some other guy go up against each other. Each one has an empty
canvas and 30 minutes to do a painting. Whoever wins wins. But is that
the real winner? Everybody is going to have their own opinion on who’s
How long do you
plan to keep this up?
As long as I can, as long as I can possibly do it. It’s something
that even when I’m an old man I’ll probably still do. It’s
kind of an addiction for me. I seriously can’t go a day without doing
moves. Not only that, but I think it’s the fountain of youth. It
keeps you active. It’s good exercise, and it’s mentally healthy.
It’s like a natural high for me.