Breakers Dance Off
B-boy Event Can I Get A Soul Clap Makes Street Dance a Family Affair
Dancing duellists squared off on a mat, each trying to outclass the other under the gaze of a roaring crowd.
The sixth edition of the Can I Get A Soul Clap b-boy/b-girl competition was held Saturday night at Artgang Montreal.
“One of the formative elements of b-boying is capoeira,” said Olivier Peloquin, one of the event organizers. “Long ago, people battled while other members of the tribe sang and clapped their hands to build a rhythm.”
B-boy and DJ CreeAsian provided dope beats at the annual street dance tournament that showcased the talents of several Quebecois, Canadian and international artists.
Peloquin, 31, is founder of Disstortion, a group involved in developing artistic platforms. Can I Get A Soul Clap’s preliminaries were held the day before at their downtown studio.
The final meeting was separated into two categories. The first involved an all-styles one-on-one competition. The second was a five-on-five team championship.
“The one-on-one all-styles competition is different from straight b-boying. It includes waacking, popping and locking among other genres,” said Peloquin. “It gives everybody a chance to battle dancers from different styles.”
The bloodless bouts were akin to old kung fu movies where various characters sashayed their best moves. A prepubescent boy sporting a bandana competed against grown men, bringing images of Naruto Shippuden to mind.
“We try to integrate the younger generation to the street dance movement,” said Peloquin. “It’s positive energy, especially for kids coming from poor families who can’t afford to play hockey. Dancing doesn’t cost anything. It’s accessible to everybody.”
But the main event was the b-boy five-on-five team championship.
“We had elite b-boy groups hailing from Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Sherbrooke and Ottawa,” said Peloquin.
Experienced dancers vaulted in the air and spun on the floor, each feat of urban acrobatics meant to uplift their team’s status and outdo the opposition. A one-legged b-girl performed a handstand on crutches drawing whoops from the crowd of about 600. It was composed of mostly breakers and young families.
“I was here for the preliminaries but my team didn’t make the cut.” said Ange-Léonce Ndolimana, a 23-year-old McGill University graduate and b-boy. “They only announced who made the finals tonight, so I had to be here.”
Still, Ndolimana was gracious in defeat. Despite the pressure, the event was more than just a test of skills.
“Sometimes, even if you don’t win, it’s fine because you’re satisfied with your team’s performance,” he said. “I’m not too disappointed. I got to vibe with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.”
Charles “Chuckle” Gao, 25, of BBoy North, made it to the five-on-five final with his team.
“Even though the dancers here were dope, I wished that there were more out-of-town people here,” he said. “This would be an attractive event but for some reason people don’t show up. I’m still having a good time though.”
Peloquin said custom t-shirts sold at Can I Get A Soul Clap 2015 helped fund future events and reinvest in the community.
Guest breakers Tricky Troublez, Creeasian, and Nauty One hosted dance workshops. Intrikid held a free workshop for children.
“It’s important for us to introduce more kids to street dance,” Peloquin said.
Video by Shaun Michaud