A few months ago, I heard a famous bboy (breakdance) song being played from a beach followed by lots of cheering. It could mean only one thing...there are bboys on Praslin afterall. I met a group of young guys called West Side Crew. At first they seemed a little unwelcoming and standoff-ish, but this was merely their reaction like one species meeting a new species in their home environment. They were curious. One dancer invited me over, addressing me as "Gagnam Style". We had a friendly battle and I would return to that beach for the months that followed. Eventually the crew moved to dance outside the community centre at Grand Anse and we recently gained permission to dance in the building. Which is quite an achievement given that hip hop seems to have a bad reputation here as it does around the world.
The Praslin style mainly revolves around flips and tricks. Without proper teachers and people who have studied the artform of our dance, they learn purely from music videos. With no space to practice, they take to the beach. Many cannot afford trainers and the supply of trainers on the island is quite low, so most dance bare feet.
As time went on, we started to talk and exchange more and more. Here is one of their early video's from last year:
It soon became apparent through training with them and battling that they were keen to learn all elements of our dance, including toprock, drops and footwork. So over the past few weeks, I've been informally sharing every toprock step and drop that I know and passing on bits of footwork/techs that I know. It's been an amazing experience and in true Seychelles/Lost/Paradise/Coincidental/Infinite consciousness style, we recently had the pleasure of hosting a world champion bgirl from France- Nadine "Flavor Roc" Messias. Through this connection, I met Darrel "Are Dee" Roucou, a bboy from Mahe. Darrel has travelled a lot and it shows in his dancing. The video below documents a night of bboying that happened at the school where we work. It was great to share our dance with our students and the local bboys on Praslin. There was a good exchange at the end. It's a long video, so here's a rough index:
1) Flavor Roc Show
2) Showcase (Praslin Bboys)
3) Showcase (Flavor-Roc, Darrel and myself)
4) Kids open cypher
5) Exhibition battle (Praslin Bboys vs Flavor-Roc, Darrel and Myself)
Yesterday evening, I met up once again with Kenrick from the Praslin Bboy Crew (West Side Crew) and he gave me a memory stick with the first video. He later messaged me:
"hope we c each other one of these days! just tanx man.those top rocks u tought me has definitely improve ma top rock cause to tell the truth i was like not dat good with the rocks usualy love powermove but now its funny i think im gona train and train mostly top rocks floor works more those u tought us. realy apreciate it man. tanx.!"
It's messages like these which remind me why I started dancing and also teaching in the first place. To share my love for the dance and love for learning. English is not Kenrick's first language and Kreol is not mine...but Dance is our mutual language. I'd like to end the post by saying "Mon kontan Sesel, Mon kontan Praslin, Mon kontan Danse, Mon kontan Aprann"
Mersi Boukou to THE ONE that made all this possible. I'm grateful.