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Of B-Boys and Ballerinas

by Mphazima We Langa / Images by Tyrone Bradley / 27.02.2013

The first qualifier for the third Red Bull Beat Battle went down this Saturday at the Joseph Stone auditorium in Athlone. The Joseph Stone Auditorium is home to the EOAN school of the arts, and over time, has become a monument to dance culture in the area. The whole community supports both the school and the dance. The turnout is a lot younger than one would expect. Much younger! In the parking lot outside, and spread around on the Red Bull vinyl mat in the foyer, were dozens of tiny, little toddler ballerinas in pink tutus, twirling and smiling while their parents watched from a safe distance. Next to them, mixed in, vying for space and a little bit of attention were the B-boys. Ghetto toughs, all muscles and grime, trackpants and Air Jordans. This offbeat juxtaposition of Ballerinas and B-boys was the surreal image that kickstarted the 2013 Beat Battle. And maybe it’s a strange foreshadowing of what is to come in South Africa’s premier urban dance competition.

The thing is with dance in Cape Town, is that most people get introduced to it at a young age. Almost all of the performers auditioning on this day got started out in school, and in church, doing a little something called “spiritual dance”. Krumping for Christ anyone? It’s clear that there is a huge cultural support structure for dance. Community centres, churches and schools are involved in the advancement of the art form. Parents take their kids to auditions and competitions. The society recognises it’s importance and has began to rally together to ensure it’s success as both art and as an alternative lifestyle.

Earlier in the day, most of the crews waited patiently outside the school hall, but as show time drew near, the excitement and anxiety rose drawing all the crews into the building. Dotted all around the venue, dancers stretched, and practised the more complex steps of their routines.

Crews start arriving

Two of the auditioning crews, The Royal Fam Kings and The Ninja Turtles have participated in previous Beat Battles and both of them had only two things in mind, revenge and a second chance to set things right!

The Royal Fam Kings (RFK) took part in the first Red Bull Beat Battle in 2011, and auditioned last year as well. And there’s no denying their ambition. The family of spiritual Krumpers, are here to claim the throne. “We were part of the original beat battle, and we didn’t win that time, but that’s what we are here to do now. We’re going to bring Krump like you’ve never seen it before.” Said their animated front man. Another crew that is auditioning today is CFC. CFC stands for Chosen for Christ, and they are the female breakaway of Royal Fam Kings. Where they normally perform as one team, today they compete head to head for the first time in their history.

Across the hall, The Ninja Turtles, who made it all the way to last year’sfinal, are here with the intention and focus to take it all the way this time. “The aim is to win,” says B-boy Da Curse. Last year, they were knocked out in the third round by the then reigning champions, Artificial Intelligence, after losing some steam in their 3rd routine. The pain of that defeat is what drives them.

Vouks gets all crews on stage for a llittle work shop

The day began with an impromptu performance led by two of the three judges, Vouks NoJokes and Sello Modigane. Vouks headed the hip hop session, and got the crews loose before Sello stepped up with a high-energy pantsula routine that got all the crews hot and sweaty. After that, everybody was ready to give it their all on the vinyl matt of glory.

Of all the crews that auditioned, it was Royal Fam Kings that bought the house down. They had the audience and most of the other auditioning crews standing on chairs, cheering, hooting and chanting for them.
While things started off slowly, they picked up pace throughout the day and certainly signalled that this year will be bigger and more competitive than the previous two battles put together.

The Unit

Crew Name: Unit

Members: Nina, Courtney, Collin, Stanley

“We set a lot of goals for ourselves. We want to inspire people. To show them that we can do what they want to do. We dance because we love it. Plain and simple.”


Crew Name: CFC (Chosen for Christ)

Members: Requel, Kim, Kelly, Tayane, Shanice, Carmen

“We started out as a female crew in October. We didnIt’s what God ordained us to do. We dance because we love it and it’s a spiritual thing for us. It’s what we were created to do. It’s natural to us. God chose us to do this.”

Royal Fam Kings

Crew Name: Royal Fam Kings

“We feeling excited. We’re hyped up. We dance because we are a family. We are a strictly Krump family. We dance to push the movement, to uplift our community, and to give back the talent that we’ve been given.”

Ninja Turtles

Crew Name: The Ninja Turtles

Members: Samuel, Da Curse, Bax, Bones #swerve, Eezzy Ish, Noel, Breakboy IP

“It’s a new year, we’re trying different things. We don’t settle for second best now. We dance because it’s spiritual and soulful. We don’t want to be a robot and go to the office every day. It keeps us alive. It’s our way of life. It’s what we are.

On Saturday, Beat Battle auditions roll into Port Elizabeth. So let’s see what the Friendly City has in store.

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*All images © Tyrone Bradley / Red Bull.

Learn more about Red Bull Beat Battle here.

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