Urban dance has many facets and manifestations — club dancing, sessions, cyphers, workshops / classes, crews, performances, and jams. One aspect of urban dance culture I've never really been that interested in is battling or competitions. It just never interested me as a fairly non-competitive person.
I enjoy going to battles and contests. Watching people throw down and bring their A-game is always inspiring. I love watching Red Bull BC-One, Just Debout, House Dance International, World of Dance, and other freestyle competitions.
And seeing a battle live is super fun and inspiring.
But I've never watch a battle and thought, damn, I wish that was me up there.
Still, I've been practicing urban dance off-and-on for more than ten years, and never participated in a battle. And battling has always been an integral part of the culture. So it's felt like I was long past due to experience it first hand.
So when I heard that MVMNT Studios in Berkeley was hosting a one-on-one house dance battle as a fundraiser for another awesome house dance event, I thought it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pop that cherry.
This battle had a very simple structure. Each dancer got one minute to dance to a track laid down by the DJ. Three judges would pick eight dancers to go on to finals, who would battle one-on-one. The winners of those semi-final battles would be judged by the other semi-finalists. Then there would be a finals round of the top two dancers.
So I had 60 seconds to show my stuff for the judges (and the audience.)
Here's how it turned out. (Sorry about the vertical orientation. My friend May had only a few seconds to set up the shot using my phone, which she was unfamiliar with.)
I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I wasn't overly stressed out about it. I was a little rushed, trying to get it all in, but not panicking. I wasn't in love with the track and didn't really get into the groove. But I think I did the best that I could with what was given and just did me.
Other dancers told me that when you are more experienced with battling, you learn to adapt to whatever track you are given and still show off your best self. And by doing it more, you relax more, which helps you to let your creativity and flow out more.
Now that I've done it, I can't say that I'm totally in love with battling. But I proved to myself that I could do it and not completely embarrass myself. I'm grateful for friends who supported and encouraged me prior to, during and after the competition.
By the way, here's one of the semi-final rounds, showing the level of dancing at this fairly casual battle. You can see why I didn't make the final eight! Such dope dancing!