For the three founding members of BU Breakers, the art of break-dancing is more than just head-spins, flips and sliding tricks.
“Break-dancers use this form of dancing as a way to express their own art,” said Jeffrey Garcia, vice president of BU Breakers and a junior majoring in financial economics. “Break-dancing is where everyone has their own style of dancing, and it’s really diverse.”
Through dedication and a common appreciation for artistic expression, Garcia, along with Marlon Pimentel and Gabriel Osei, created the first Student Association (SA)-chartered break-dancing organization on campus.
Pimentel, the club president and a junior double-majoring in mathematics and computer science, said break-dancing first came onto his radar when he came across a popular YouTube video, which showed break-dancers battling it out. He then reached out to his friends to form an organization for others interested on campus.
“Break-dancing is less about the routine dance moves, but more about just dancing and expressing yourself,” Pimentel said. “I saw the people in the video doing some crazy moves and realized I could gather people that could also do those same moves on campus.”
Osei, the club’s treasurer and an undeclared sophomore, found his passion for break-dancing from watching the TV show, “America’s Best Dance Crew.” He was especially a fan of the Jabbawockeez, who are known for wearing mysterious white masks and impressing the audience with their robotic dance style.
“At first, I was nervous to try new things out and didn’t think I could do the same dances they were doing,” Osei said. “I didn’t really notice I liked dancing until last year, when my cousin forced me to join a dance team. When joining BU Breakers last semester, I thought, ‘Wow, we can make this club the next Jabbawockeez on campus.’”
Each meeting of the club revolves around the opportunity to dance. During the first BU Breakers general interest meeting last spring, for example, the group did an icebreaker in which random students were split into groups to form a dance crew and show off their individual moves in a small-scale dance battle. Once they realized their common passion was shared by other students, they started to work toward their goal of getting chartered by the SA, which they have achieved as of this semester.
The club’s newest goal is to grow and gain more members in future semesters, especially through meetings, which are held at least twice a week, and laid-back practices held all around campus. The group doesn’t require that interested students have any experience dancing. Osei said that inexperienced students shouldn’t be intimidated to give break-dancing a try, as many of the club’s members learned right on the spot.
“When we hold practices on campus, some people walk by and are curious about what it is we’re doing,” Pimentel said. “They watch us for a while, and five minutes later they’re getting down with us. It’s like a chain reaction.”
For members who are new to the break-dancing style, Osei said getting bruised up is normal at practices and shouldn’t be a reason to quit.
“If you’re trying break-dancing for the first time, you’re going to get beat up because your body isn’t used to the movements, but if you stay committed and determined you will get better at it with every time you practice,” he said. “In the moment, it might not seem like you can do something like that, but in the end, you wow yourself.”
This fall, they have performed at events on campus including the Philippine-American League’s banquet on Oct. 21 and Binghamton’s Got Talent on Nov. 4. The combination of the freestyle moves and upbeat music makes performing at events a positively energetic experience for Pimentel.
“My favorite part about performing is when we get to interact with the crowd and hype them up,” Pimentel said. “We get to share the positive energy we feel with them.”
BU Breakers’ future plans include hosting an on-campus break-dancing competition and putting on more performances by collaborating with other organizations. Aside from solely reaching out to on-campus groups, they also hope to contact experienced break-dancers in the Binghamton area. They hope that more seasoned dancers will be able to teach them new moves and spark their creativity.
The trio who formed BU Breakers met through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and not only realized their common interest in break-dancing, but also formed a close friendship. Garcia hopes BU Breakers will help inspire others who come from similar backgrounds.
“Coming into the school as an EOP student and from a low-income family, sharing the experience of break-dancing with other people is a way for me to give back to the community,” Garcia said. “My mission is to help other people break-dance.”