Breakin’ Through is a hip-hop dancing duo giving kids in Leeds the chance to meet new people while they learn a few new moves.
B-Girl Rawgina and B-Boy Beanz are Breakin’ Through Leeds, a breakdancing duo who are teaching the kids of Leeds how to move. They’re passing on all their knowledge to the next generation of breakdancers with fun-packed sessions that see young dancers free-styling with new pals before taking on dance battles to see who’s the best. The duo want to help them learn new skills, meet new people and grow in confidence through their sessions.
That’s because it’s exactly what breakdancing helped the duo experience growing up.. For Rawgina, she was influenced by Leeds b-boy DMW who would do head spins in the park near her house, before a group of breakdancers visited her school. It had a huge effect on her, as she explained, “As I grew older I realised that it is so much more than just a dance, it is part of a larger culture, hip-hop. Despite what you may think, hip-hop is a positive culture with many different elements to it and breaking is just one. Through breaking and hip-hop I have developed, not only with my dancing, but as a person and it has been a major contribution to what has made me who I am.”
Beanz didn’t get the breakdancing bug until he was a little bit older, seeing his technology teacher Mr Hamlin body popping. He also led an after-school breakdancing class which Beanz started going to and it was from then that it became his true passion, “It was quite difficult as we didn’t know or have any actual breakers helping us so we were essentially making it up,” Beanz explained. “Years later I came across Breakers Unify, Shane Fenton and Shaun Clarke, who eventually ran a project in my school. They welcomed me in and started teaching me the basics/foundations of breaking. I never looked back.”
Breakdancing groups like Breakers Unify, as well as Speak to the Streets, had a huge influence on Rawgina and Beanz, giving them the foundations that they’ve built on to run Breakin’ Through Leeds. Rawgina told us about the impact their experiences with the two groups had on them, “The inspiration came from attending breaking sessions run by Breakers Unify in Leeds when we were younger, and then Speak To The Streets later. Both were aimed at giving young people something creative to do while helping to keep them out of trouble. Through them we were given opportunities to battle, perform and teach. Eventually, we realised that this was something we may want to do full time, but we were unsure if it was realistic.”
Well, they’ve made it a reality now, and their classes have become incredibly popular. They start each session at All Hallows Church in Hyde Park by welcoming everybody and then encouraging the kids to introduce themselves to each other with a special handshake that helps to install confidence and respect from the get go. They then go through some stretches and exercises to limber up, before the real fun gets going.
B-Girl Rawgina told us about what you can expect from a class, “We split the group in two based on abilities, so we will have a beginner group and an advanced group, Beanz taking one group, and myself the other. This helps us to ensure that everybody is working at a level suitable for them. We then allow free time, where everybody can mix and mingle, practising together before finally bringing everybody together to finish with a battle or a circle. A battle is when we create two crews who will go against each other for fun, a circle is similar but instead there are no teams – it is everybody taking it in turns to get down.”
The classes see the kids learning all kinds of moves, from the basics to more complicated skills. They give you a proper foundation, starting with top rocks, which are a variation of steps, spins and turns you perform while standing up, before you try your hand at get downs, transitions from standing up to the ground.
There’s also plenty of footwork for you to master, like sweeps, slides and turns, and that’s before you get to the really cool stuff – think head spins, back spins and windmills. To top it off, you can practice your freezes, which are the poses and positions you hold at the end of a routine – imagine that famous Run DMC video! As Rawgina told us, “the possibilities in breaking are endless.”
Their kids classes are their most popular, and it’s what they do most regularly, but that’s not all they offer – they sometimes run adult classes, which means you can join in for a fiver, and if you or the kids want private lessons at home or in the Breakin’ Though studio, you can get them for £25. When they’re not teaching others, Rawgina and Beanz are travelling all over the world to perform, compete and judge competitions.
If you need any further encouragement that breakdancing is a great new hobby for the kids (or maybe even you) to try, Rawgina will leave you in little doubt, “I would recommend breaking to anybody and everybody! It’s a fun, energetic and creative way to keep fit and healthy. Breaking is a great way to build confidence and social skills. Most of all there are lots of amazing people to meet as there is a large community of breakers up and down the UK and all over the world.”
Breakin’ Through Leeds run weekly classes at All Hallows Church, 24 Regent Terrace, Hyde Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1NP. They have classes on Monday and Thursday evenings between 5pm and 6pm which cost £3.50, followed by practice sessions from 6pm until 7pm for £1.50.