***image1***Airman Jose Rodriguez, 435th Communications Squadron video production and documentation apprentice, and his crew, King Size Crew, are preparing to battle with the best in Germany at the “Street Style” competition in Berlin Saturday.
The competition isn’t fazing the Airman; he’s already run the gamut of competitions and performances as a “b-boy” in the breakdancing ethos in the three years since he began breakdancing.
“I’ve been in countless competitions; in March my (old crew from the United States and I) won ESPN 2’s breakdancing competition in Miami, and I’ve performed at a Missy Elliot concert. I’ve also done some (Spanish hip-hop) music videos and opened a show for Ja Rule,” he said.
Airman Rodriguez began breakdancing in 2002, a protégé of his next door neighbor.
“It took a lot of dedication (to learn) because you can’t get a lot of the complicated moves down the first, second or even third time,” the 19-year-old said. “It was frustrating, but my friends were into it, so we just bounced off each other and went to competitions to see professionals, which motivated us to keep on trying.”
A human body’s own physical limitations are put to the test with some of breakdancing’s complicated “power moves.” Airman Rodriguez was set back with a sprained wrist, hurt shoulder and fluid accumulation around his knee joints, known as water on the knee.
“I had to learn all four (elements) of breakdancing,” he said. “You have to be able to do top rock, foot work, freezes and power moves, or you can’t say you breakdance.”
Airman Rodriguez is the only American on his crew; the other seven are a representation from across the continents – a discombobulated family, he calls them.
The “family” must pull together to create a showcase for competitions.
“The showcase is a six-minute routine, which is a long time to try and keep an audience’s attention,” said Airman Rodriguez. “The crews who win get the audience hyped the most.”
From picking out the music and starting from scratch to “perfected” took two months for the King Size Crew.
Airman Rodriguez said he feels confident about his crew’s ability to win the competition.
“The crew that won ‘Battle of the Year’ (considered the largest competition in breakdancing) last year recently lost to us in a competition,” he said.
Even if the King Size Crew wins the competition, and gains what every crew dreams of – sponsorship – Airman Rodriguez said he won’t let it get to his head.
“I realize now that I’m older I want to keep this as a hobby and establish myself as a visual communications expert,” he said. “(Breakdancing is) my one true outlet to relieve myself of stress caused by everyday life. (I’ll) keep on treating b-boying as my passion, because when you turn your passion into your job, or do it just for money, it wears you out.”
“I want to dance on my own terms, and nobody else’s,” he said.