Saturday, September 5, 2009

Report and photos from the United Styles Competition

Here's the rest of Han Cho's report, with some photos, of the United Styles Competition held in Boston in August 2009. Thanks for the awesome report Han!

The day of the top 16 battles started rather relaxed and casual. People were gathered in various pockets of the Cyclorama, a large open space with a high ceiling perfect for cyphering, watching one another dance, chatting, drinking Red Bull, checking out the art that had been hung around the space, etc. Music was bumping, which kept the energy and mood upbeat. As it got closer to 5pm, people began to move closer to the floor that had been set up for the battles. Chairs were set up directly across the video for the three judges: El Nino and Float of Floorlords and Crazy Legs of Rock Steady. Lino of Floorlords and Kamel of Boogie Bratz were the hosts for the evening and called everyone to the floor to begin the competition. They started off by opening the floor to any poppers. Megatron headed that off, followed by Snap 2, and then Fables. Megatron called on other various poppers to come out and perform. After that, the battles began.

Crews were judged on originality, style, form, execution, and power, among other things. Each round was 8 minutes long and if a crew did a set, they earned an extra round. For the next 6 hours, crew after crew battled it out, and it was genuinely inspiring and breath-taking to see the dancers move with such ease and fluidity. Some of them came close and the judges could not make a decision, which allowed them to battle another round. Air chairs, back flips onto elbows, flairs, head spin after head spin were some of many power moves that were incorporated into the dances and sets. Sometimes, the breakers were moving and grooving to the music so quickly that it was difficult to even keep up with their performances. Each crew brought their best on the floor, and it became evident as the energy around them escalated and a number of draws were called. Several times, Lino had to stop between battles to tell the spectators to scoot back as they had gradually inched forward, closer and closer to the battle. You could almost taste the sweat and grit in the air.

From 16 crews to 8 crews to 4 crew to the final 2, intermission was held between
each set of battles, so that the individual crews could take breaks. During intermission, people cyphered, and at one point the judges, old school dancers and hosts did a set together, which drove the crowd nuts. Lino began giving away free shirts and shoes for anyone who could do a set he made up. It was nice taking the few breaks between the rounds as the intensity heightened as more crews were eliminated and the battles got fiercer.

The final two that faced off were The Squadron and the Funky Masons. It was heated as both crews had strong individuals who gave killer performances and a great team dynamic. The Squadron had a crazy set that seemed to almost come out of nowhere and they were doing it before anyone knew it had started. The crowd went nuts. The Funky Masons put up a good fight after that, but The Squadron took the cup and the $50,000 home.

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