Abstrak (Skill Methodz)

by andrewmam

This is my first break-related post about a dancer I study and admire, and I find myself at a strange impasse on this day. I’m in between a place of reverence and two degrees of separation. It’s strange because I don’t know this man, I’ve met him as a fan back in 2007, but it’s almost certain I’ll come across him in the future. It would be awkward to say HEY I WROTE A BLOG POST ON YOU (I wouldn’t say that lol). But then I remember how awkward it was to approach him at Ashes2Ashes in Portland anyways haha. Today, honesty and purpose prevail. It’s my goal in discussing dancers, battles, moments in time–that I’ll be able to help others see the things I do and aid them in their break journey.

Abstrak was one of my first break heroes. As I was coming of break maturity around 2005/2006, right as I was getting into Hybrid Crew and thus beginning my love affair with this dance, I can’t remember how I came across him. Must’ve been some .avi file or somewhere online like bboyworld. There was something about his sense of flow, the continuity in how he carried himself on the dance floor, and the unpredictable rawness of freestyle. You never knew where he was going, what beats he was going catch, and when he was doing to perform one of those godsent moves that collectively fry the brains of everyone in attendance. Example: Start this clip at 1:18, but the set I’m talking about starts at 1:40.

Wtf what that?! Swipe, reverse flow, figure 4, flow freeze-freeze-freeze?! The fact that I can even write something trying to describe it proves to me how much I’ve grown in my own dance but as a high schooler watching this, I was flabbergasted. And the greatest part is: he was dancing the whole time. And I really doubt he ever did a move like that again, as I’ve heard his memory isn’t the strongest and that’s just one of those moves you don’t do, ever again.

It was exemplary of one of the best things freestyle dance has to offer, that trounces the appeal of beautiful choreography (for me).

Irreplaceable moments in time with movements that come from a higher power or in a complete “flow” state of mind.

(for the latter, see: Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman). See it again here:

Every beat hit; every snare caught most definitely. There’s an air of complete gracefulness, and a class to it unseen on the international battle stages of today. Truly, it’s the flow of movement that sets it apart. I learned from watching him throughout the years, that flow like that comes from mastery of the body. You cannot practice this. You have to practice everything else (he was a really dope powerhead as was everyone else in the 90s) and learn your body, and with practice–perhaps 10,000 hours–your body will respond in kind. If you keep practicing, trust in your body, and finally disconnect yourself from pursuing “perfection”, you will do things you never dreamed of. There is value to drilling movement and sets and winning battles, which is something he did, but this guy represents the appeal of bboying beyond that. Pure creation and uninhibited flow. I will always thank him for inspiring that in me.

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PS. I found out in my early research days that part of his foundation was learning how to house dance from Cricket (East Coast, not Crykit from Extra Kredit). That is a major reason why I started housing.

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