Kristin Roberts serves as an Assistant Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.
Hit American b-boy, hip -hop, and beat box crew HaviKoro rocked the north Indian city of Chandigarh January 18 and 19 in celebration of the sixth anniversary of the American Corner in Chandigarh. What is a b-boy you say? A b-boy, or a b-girl, is a dancer who practices breaking, the acrobatic hip-hop dance style also known commonly as “break dancing.”
Breaking has a rich history in the United States. Emerging from the Bronx in the 1970s, breaking quickly took hold of the New York street dance scene. Breaking was particularly popular among the youth of South Bronx. Opposing gangs abandoned violence for break dancing battles, where the best breakers would demonstrate their skills in exchange for each other's respect. In this way, break dancing crews, or groups of performers, began to form and the dance took on a life of its own. Breakers added more complex moves, increased their speed, and developed their form. Other dance elements, including capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, music, and dance), influenced the movement and added to its complexity and beauty.
Breaking is one of the many elements of hip hop culture and has found considerable popularity among today's youth. Today, four basic moves form the foundation of breaking: the toprock, downrock, freeze, and power moves. In Chandigarh, HaviKoro crew worked with local teens to perfect their style and moves. Indian breakers showed off their toprocks and asked HaviKoro how to windmill faster and improve their mid-air freeze moves, in a dance workshop for local youth. On January 19, HaviKoro rocked Chandigarh with an hour-long performance. Attended by well over 700 youth, including several break dance crews that made the four hour train ride from New Delhi to Chandigarh to study HaviKoro's moves, the performance brought the audience to its feet. They gasped at the intricate foot work and watched in awed silence as human beat boxer Steven Cantor clicked his mouth to create percussion for the dancers' moves.
HaviKoro continued to make heads (and bodies) spin in Chennai. The group dazzled the over 2,000 Chennaiites in attendance at the Express Avenue Mall January 27. It wasn't only their fleet feet that had the crowd cheering: HaviKoro's message of encouragement in the face of adversity and “can do” spirit inspired everyone present, young and old alike.
HaviKoro's mission is to reach out to youth and underprivileged children through street art. In Chennai, HaviKoro conducted two workshops for over 150 students at IIT Madras and several dozen aspiring dancers at Swingers Dance Academy. They completed the Chennai leg of their all India tour with a performance at the Saarang 2011 Festival, where they awed another 3,000 people from all over India. HaviKoro will also perform in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Kolkata as part of a larger five-city tour before returning to the United States.
Based out of Texas, HaviKoro crew formed in 1999. Individually, their performance experience dates back to the early 1990s where they grew up dancing on the streets of Houston. In 2005, they partnered with Houston's Association of American Voices to perform in dozens of foreign countries as U.S. ‘hiplomats,' representing the unique contribution of hip-hop to American culture.