Portland’s Blue Waves Gym Hosts Electrifying Ninth Annual ‘Exchang…


Hundreds of dance aficionados converged on Portland’s Blue Waves Basketball gym, transforming it into a vibrant arena of rhythm and movement for the ninth annual ‘Exchange’ dance competition. This unique event, as described by Elizabeth Lau of Portland Youth Dance, serves as a melting pot where the worlds of studio and street dance collide in a family-friendly environment. Participants, ranging from children under 10 to adults, engaged in dynamic dance ‘battles,’ showcasing their skills in hip-hop and ‘b-boying’—the term preferred by purists over ‘break dancing.’


The Essence of the Battle

Key to the event’s allure is the emphasis on improvisation and musicality, with dancers performing to unchosen tracks, requiring them to adapt their practiced moves to the DJ’s selection. Khai Vu from Boston, a seasoned dancer known as ‘SoFly,’ shared his judging criteria, focusing on the dancers’ ability to have a ‘conversation’ with the music and with each other, highlighting the narrative and timing of their moves. This approach underscores breaking’s improvisational nature, likened to a non-contact martial art where the music dictates the flow.

Community and Competition Merge


The ‘Exchange’ not only showcased local talent from Portland but also attracted dancers from across the state, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York, highlighting its appeal and the growing community around hip-hop and b-boying. Among the participants was 9-year-old Eli, who impressed the audience with his agility and skill, embodying the event’s spirit of fun and competitive camaraderie. This gathering provided a rare platform for young dancers in Maine to experience and participate in the kind of competition more commonly found in larger cities, fostering a sense of unity and celebration of dance culture.

Looking Towards the Future

As the ‘Exchange’ dance competition wraps up its ninth year, its success paves the way for future gatherings, promising to keep the spirit of street and studio dance alive in Portland. The event not only offers a platform for dancers to showcase their talents but also strengthens the local and regional dance community, encouraging the next generation of dancers like Lucien Child and Eli to pursue their passion. By blending competition with celebration, the ‘Exchange’ highlights the evolving landscape of dance, where tradition meets innovation, and community thrives on diversity.

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