Northwest break dancers rock their way to the global stage

The “R” in R-16 stands for respect, and that’s what the Northwest scene got when Seattle hosted an R-16 international dance competition qualifier for the first time last weekend.

“The Seattle scene is one of the smallest b-boy scenes. More of the bigger brand events go to bigger market cities…” said Michael Huang, one of the event organizers. “The Northwest as a market has been a unrecognized scene for the most part  —except for Massive Monkees and Circle of Fire.”

The prestige of the event attracted 38 of the finest solo break dancers in the Northwest — all competing for to be the one to represent our region.

The winner of this regional round would travel to the U.S. finals in Las Vegas and battle to secure a seed in the World Finals held from July 4th to 6th in Seoul, South Korea.

Seattle-based break-dancing crew Massive Monkees hosted the event at “The Beacon”  — their newly acquired dance studio in International District. The crew helped put Seattle on the map when they became the first Americans to win the R-16 World Championship last year.

The judges were five of the most respected names in Northwest breaking: FeverOne, Thesis, Tim Chips, TommyBox, and Tim the Pitt.

The break dancers had to compete under the unique R-16 battle format, in which judges graded each dancer’s performance in five categories: foundation, originality, execution, dynamics, and battle.

Six members of the world-renowned Massive Monkees break-dancing crew. (Photo by Austin Williams)
Six members of the world-renowned Massive Monkees break-dancing crew. (Photo by Austin Williams)
The crowd reacts during a one-on-one battle. (Photo by Austin Williams)
The crowd reacts during a one-on-one battle. (Photo by Austin Williams)
Local B-Boy event organizer Michael Huang gets the crowd pumped for the next match-up. (Photo by Austin Williams)
Local B-Boy event organizer Michael Huang gets the crowd pumped for the next match-up. (Photo by Austin Williams)

Eight well-respected northwest solo break-dancers we’re preselected to compete in the top sixteen showdown, while the remaining eight spots were chosen in a preliminary round that was open to anyone.

After 36 competitors were eliminated, the last dancers standing for the finals were Roc from battle crews Fresh Descendants and THEM team, and Tacoma-native Complex from Dance Broomz and the hoodz. Their battle was evenly contested, and went to overtime, where Complex finally won the match up, securing his spot to in the U.S. finals.

Complex credited Massive Monkees for pushing him toward success:

“Those are like my older brothers I used to battle those guys all of the time when I was younger,” said Complex.

Brysen, a member of the Massive Monkees, had shared praise — and a little advice— for Complex:

“His dance, his approach to dance. I feel like he doesn’t have to do anything to win R-16 just be himself…” he said. “We are not trying to do like Koreans do because we know we can not do like them — but they can’t be like us.”

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