Kemp kids bust out breakdancing

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Saskatoon break dance instructor Brandon Ganuelas led a two-day workshop on hip-hop culture for students at Jack Kemp Community School last week. These Grade 5 students busted out their own moves as part of the lesson. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

Jack Kemp Community School kids have checked off breakdancing as one of their favourite classes.

It was one of the “funnest” experiences for Grade 5 students who formed a circle to show off their B-boy and B-girl moves, one at a time as their classmates cheered them on.

Breaking, as it’s also called, is one of the five elements of hip-hop culture taught by instructor Brandon Ganuelas from Saskatoon during a two-day workshop last week.

“I’m teaching breakdancing B-boy, B-girl, it’s about hip hop, being open with the community, giving each other a chance to make a difference in the community,” said Ganuelas.

The 26-year-old says hip hop is not just dance and not just the music, but a whole community and a worldwide phenomenon.

“Hip hop to me is a way to unite people and clear whatever is going on in your mind, like whatever issue,” explained Ganuelas who has a studio in Saskatoon.

“It’s my way to escape whatever problems I have financially, mentally and even physically.”

Breakdancing promotes self-expression and creativity as there is no single right way to execute moves.

With breaking, kids can learn the basics and launch in any direction from there, developing their self-expression and confidence.

‘It’s to interact with others who love to do the same thing. You can use any rhythm and change it to your own to dance to it. That’s why it’s so versatile,” said Ganuelas.

Dancing is also part of the provincial arts curriculum and part of the phys-ed curriculum that led Dance Saskatchewan to pair Ganuelas with Jack Kemp classes to the delight of principal Elena Brand.

“We have him for two whole days to do workshops. He’s doing workshops with them in small groups. they’re learning the moves; they’re dancing, they’re cheering each other on,” said Brand.

She also liked what Ganuelas told the first class about hip-hop bringing people together.

“He had a great message about that for the kids, about the entire hip-hop culture infusing all of the arts from visual arts to music to the dance as well,” said Brand.

“That was very heartwarming for me as a principal to see all of those kids cheering each other on as they were trying something brand new.”

Ganuelas only had time to teach the basics, but that was just fine for a gung-ho learner who identified herself as Jordan.

“It’s lots of fun. It’s a way to bring people together to support yourself and other people,” she said.

The cool thing, said Jordan, is you don’t have to be super coordinated to do it.

“You can just learn simple steps to do it and it’s a way to express yourself in a more creative way,” she explained.

The 10-year-old noted Ganuelas is very good at hip hop and teaches it step by step, so it’s easy to follow.

She said she learned moves like the cross-over, the sidestep, the CC and the freeze among others. 

Ganuelas believes anyone can do it and learn about hip-hop culture too.

“It’s not just about music. It’s about morals and values in hip-hop. There’s a whole ‘each-one, teach-one’ mindset. It’s for everyone,” he said.

“It’s to end violence. That’s what it was created for.”

Hip hop started in the Bronx in New York in the 1970s as a way to stop gang violence.

Ganuelas says the culture of hip hop is making a comeback with sponsored competitions that he takes part in and its inclusion as an Olympic sport in the 2024 Summer Games.

“The reason why I say to the kids it includes everybody is because we’re not all the same. It gives everyone a chance to be on an even playing ground in reality,” said Ganuelas.

He said he caught on to hip hop when he was 12 because it was free and wasn’t restricted by rules or the need for equipment.

“You just show up and you do what you want,” he said.

That was among the many benefits of breaking that appealed to a Grade 5 student named Trextzyn.

“It was really fun and, like, you do a lot with your friends and classmates. It’s a lot of energy and, you like, show yourself out in a group,” he said.

“It helps build relationships with your friends and makes you chill out.”

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