Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Poppers and Breakers: Float Master John, Slip, Most, Tiny Love and Nikita

Some unique tricks (keep you eye on the cigarette)

Look ma, no feet

Some really tough breaking manouvres and a nice matrix

Only in New York: The group pulls a random kid from the audience who can actually dance

Interview with the Float Master John, Slip, Mos, Tiny Love and Nikita

Location: Union Square by the University Place and 14th st. train entrance
Artists: Floast Master John (all black), Slip (Tan T-shirt and hat), Most (white shirt), Tiny Love (white guy)
Medium: Breaking, rocking and popping

When I first ran into these guys they were trying to set up in Union Square. Unfortunately, the cops weren’t having it. For about an hour and half the group waited in Union Square for an opportunity, even attempting to set up across the street. Apparently, a fellow who lives in Union Square is good friends with the Mayor and doesn’t appreciate loud noises in the square. This makes it difficult for artists but particularly difficult for breakers who use amplified music and, according to Float Master John, have a hard time getting permits from the police. After a lot of waiting I left with the promise of meeting up with the group later. When I returned to Union Square later that day, however, I was happy to see that the gang had caught a break and was just starting their show.

Dressed entirely in black, Float Master John makes dancing look easy. But then again, he has been in the game for 35 years. A specialist in floating, moonwalking and other insane tricks (including his patented smoking routine), John has danced in the street and on stages for most of his life. Despite a long career, Float Master John is constantly looking for improvement. “[I dance in the street for] feedback from the crowd. [the] New York city crowd…gives the best feedback. It’s honest, it’s critical…if you’re good they’re gonna tell you, if you’re not good they’re gonna let you know. So it’s better I get someone who’s truthful about criticism [and] this is the hardest crowd.” John explains that the group met from doing gigs, practicing in public and seeing each other on the street. Now John performs on the street as a hobby and regularly teaches the skills he’s acquired at Boy’s Helpburn and O. Henry.

Influences: James Brown, Michael Jackson.

Jerry A.K.A. “Slip” comes to dance all the way from Elmont, LI (that’s pronounced Lawn Guyland). In HS. Jerry got into breaking by watching movies. When he and his friend saw a guy actually dancing, his friend decided to ask the guy to teach him. It wasn’t long before Jerry got into it. At the urging of his friend, Jerry began breaking in the street and met his current group. After two and half years of dancing, Jerry comes out for fun and to continue learn.

Influences: Breaking I and II, Wild Style (movies)

Z A.K.A. “Most” lives in the Bronx but was born in Bahia, Brazil. Z has performed all over world in places like Germany and Paris. Z says he got into Breaking because everybody in his village used to practice capoeira and he wasn’t into it so he learned breaking by watching videos. After teaching himself, he came to New York for “like, the vibe and everything, the music…I mean, like the [breaking] movement is actually bigger over here compared to where I’m from. This is the place to be…We got capoeira but it’s not really the same.” Z keeps it real, he performs on the street because he can feel the crowd and because it’s where he comes from. He may perform on the biggest stages but he still has to bring it to the street because that’s where be comes from. Z is laid back about what he does, after 10 years of dancing and DJing, he explains that art is to “give people that smile…[maybe] get a few dollars but it’s no big deal about it, [it’s] just chillin’ I mean it’s summer time, it’s so nice.”

Influences: Capoeira and kung fu movies but mostly himself and his imagination.

“Tiny Love” came to America from communist Romania. Tiny got into breaking in the 80s in Romania. Took classes occasionally but mostly taught himself through watching videos. Came to New York with his mom who left Romania to find a future. Loves dancing on the street – “it’s a great feeling. This is a street dance, it’s not Broadway…this is my passion.”

Influences: Old school dance like Soul Train

The group also likes to randomly pull kids from the audience to join them in a dance. Today's lucky youngster is Nikita:

Nikita is the type of talented random participant you can find on the New York streets. He comes from Russia where he and his friends got into breaking. After seeing some shows after he moved to Canada, he started taking classes for real when he moved to New York. This resident of the Lower East Side has been breaking for about a year.

Like what you see? Take some lessons with
Tiny Love at PS 93: 917-713-6319 or
Float Master John at two schools in Manhattan: 646-752-6554

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Maureen said...

You are really great! More cramping would have been better, but the energy was really great! Kudos to all the dancers. You were really fantastic out there.


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floatmasterjohn aka john rich said...

thanks @ maureen @ cheap viagra try to stay up because that's lame or limp which either one you can't get up with us yes don't do it.