Break dancing back in the mountains
Break dancing, an early ’80s craze now rebounding in popularity, has again moved from inner city streets to small town America.
The Eagle Dance Academy, located at 725 Chambers Avenue, recently began offering break dancing lessons to boys. The academy offers two classes – one for boys in elementary and middle school, and one for high schoolers. The classes have been surprisingly popular, adding more than 15 boys to the academy’s student roster.
Academy owner Cheryl McQuaid began offering the classes in an effort to introduce boys to the art of dancing. McQuaid, a dancer for 32 years and instructor of ballet, tap and jazz for 19 years, hopes break dancing, a form dominated by self-expression and one-upmanship, will help the boys develop confidence in themselves and acquire an appreciation and interest for other forms of dance.
“A lot of boys want to try dancing but get discouraged by family or peer pressure. People underestimate how difficult (dancing) is and how physical it is,” says McQuaid.
Part of break dancing’s attraction is the opportunity it offers boys to “find their own groove,” she says.
The classes, which meet on Wednesday evenings, are taught by Casey Beauchamp, 20. Beauchamp has been break dancing for four years and is also an instructor at the Center for the Arts in Glenwood Springs and the Academy of Dance and Gymnastics in Rifle. He runs dance workshops throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and works as a swim instructor at the Glenwood Hot Springs pool.
He says dance can change a person and their views. Beauchamp began dancing as a hobby to do with his friends, but was soon exploring dance as a profession, moving beyond the break dancing style to other forms of dance, including ballet, he says. Beauchamp credits break dancing for keeping him out of trouble and directing his youthful energy.
Beauchamp and McQuaid say they believe the boys who participate in the class learn discipline, improve their self-confidence and creativity, and learn the importance of good sportsmanship.
“Members of the class are very supportive of and encourage each other. They cheer for each other. That’s part of the break dancing genre,” says McQuaid. “Casey encourages them to come up with their own ideas. There are not many dance genres that encourage you to do your own thing.”
Students seem to be enjoying the classes.
Cliff Rodrick, 11, attends Edwards Elementary School. Until joining the class he did not participate in any after-school activities. After three months, he not only thinks dancing is “cool” but he plans on pursuing other after-school activities.
“My dad thinks it’s good to have an after-school activity. Now I want to join more, maybe even basketball,” says Rodrick.
Dancemate Henry Smirl, 8, a student at Brush Creek Elementary, couldn’t wait to sign up after seeing break dancers doing head spins and handstands.
“I saw an ad at school and I wanted to join,” he said.
The boys banter among themselves about their favorite moves and what they hope to learn in the future. Rodrick’s favorite move is “the six-step,” which requires the dancer to quickly spin his legs in the air under and over his arms in a circle. Smirl’s says his favorite is the “top-rock,” in which the dancer balances his body on only one arm with his legs above him.
“My friends think it’s cool, and we get to show off in the gym at school,” said Smirl.
Students from both break dancing classes will participate in the school’s spring recital at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek. Classes are held every Wednesday evening from 6:45-7:45 p.m. for elementary and middle school boys and 7:45-8:45 p.m. for high school boys. The cost is $40 a month.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.