The music starts blasting and within seconds all the boys who had been playing around and talking to their friends just start dancing. Legs and arms are going in all directions, some go into handstands then roll onto their stomachs, others are doing back spins on the floor and twisting back up.
They are totally uninhibited by the crowd of parents who are watching. But these are no ordinary dancers – they are the Fancy Panthers, Salmon Arm’s breakdancers.
Instructor Manny Christjansen started up the class over a year ago.
“There’s not much breakdancing in Salmon Arm or the Interior but there’s a little in Kelowna, and pretty much in every main city; Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. It’s bigger now than in the 80s. It’s even going to be in the Junior Olympics (2018 in Buenos Aires).”
Christjansen was born in Haiti and adopted by a Canadian family. It was when he moved to Australia with his parents for several years that he first got really into breaking, or ‘b-boying’ as it is popularly called.
“My math teacher got me into it,” he says smiling.
He explains that it differs from other sports where an athlete works toward perfection.
“Break dancing isn’t driven by perfection but competition. There’s a cap to perfection but not competition and because of that freedom, you can take it to the next level.”
Davin Lawson, 9, has been coming for over a year. He likes the ability to do his own thing: “It’s just super fun and you just make stuff up. You can go down low and do stuff or stand up and do stuff.”
For 10-year-old Nick Metcalfe, the fun is being actively creative.
“It gets your blood moving quicker. It’s fun when you get to learn all these crazy moves.”
Christjansen take the time to teach them actual moves, but, for the most part, he lets them work (‘battle’) one-on-one or with a ‘crew’ and he walks around giving pointers or showing them other moves.
The class ends with a cipher battle. A cipher is basically a circle where the b-boys dance, taking turns one by one.
Christjansen says he is a huge proponent of b-boying because it helps develop a person in so many ways.
“It challenges a person to get out of their comfort zone. Everyone that sticks with it becomes confident and it transfers well to everything. There’s the strength aspect; you pretty much get a strong upper body. It’s good for the brain; it takes a lot of motor skills. You have to do five things at the same time while keeping a beat. It’s like juggling.”
The Fancy Panthers meet at Bastion Elementary gym on Monday nights from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information contact Manny Christjansen at 250-803-1652 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New students are welcome.