Winnipeg breakdancer finds ‘catharsis’ and ‘representation’ through dance

When Dela Awuyah gets anxious or overwhelmed about the stresses of life, he hits the floor. 

The 29-year-old breakdancer, also known as Mooki, has used dance as his outlet for 16 years to move through grief after the death of his cousin, as well as the struggles of poverty he faced growing up in Winnipeg’s West End. 

“Moments happen where you’re kind of like, ‘What do I do?’ And then you sit there in the catharsis of the emotions but because I had breaking, I was able to go down to my basement and cry it out, but also create some moves and representation of that.”

A man dressed in a black sweat shirt and black paints is crouched down on a dance studio floor. He rests his right thigh on the floor, and his left and right hands are on the floor for balance. He has tight braids in his hair. A second man, crouched beside him is pointing down towards the floor. He is wearing a black T-Shirt with yellow graphic lettering and light-coloured track pants. Both men are wearing sneakers
Dela Awuyah (aka Mooki), right, began breakdancing at age 14. ‘Hip hop is a spiritual movement. It is a dance. It is a rap. It is a sound. It is all these different things but before anything, it’s the knowledge,” he says. (CinemaRolls Studios)

He was 14 when he discovered his love of rap and hip-hop culture.  

“Once I started to create my own movements I kind of just decided that certain moves would mean certain things. And in doing that I found myself expressing myself that way,” Awuyah said.

Now, Awuyah is sharing his knowledge of breakdancing and hip-hop culture with his students at Red River College Polytechnic. 

Awuyah’s emotional connection with breaking is the subject of a short documentary by three students — Evan Rivard, Sean Monfero and Patrik Dela Cuesta, all 18 — in the Create program at Sisler High School in Winnipeg. The post-high school program trains students in the creative digital arts, including filmmaking.

The short documentary was produced as part of CBC Manitoba’s Project POV: Sisler Create, a continuing video storytelling collaboration.

Meet the filmmakers

Young man with curly dark hair sits on a stool with his hands clasped at his lap. He wears a button down shirt open with a white graphic T-shirt underneath. He is wearing dress pants.
Evan Rivard (CinemaRolls Studios)

Evan Rivard  has been making and watching movies since he was a toddler, and has a deep passion and desire to tell poignant stories in all types of films.

Young man with short, straight hair and bangs sits on a stool. He is wearing a sweatshirt that says Athletic Championships on the front and cargo pants with a pocket on the side. He wears round metal framed glasses and has his hands clasped on his lap.
Sean Monfero (CinemaRolls Studios)

Sean Monfero loves film production, lighting, and editing. He loves to experiment with his filmmaking, trying new techniques and working with other creative storytellers. When he isn’t behind a camera, you can find him snoozing in his bed or hanging out with his friends.

Young man with shaggy, dark, shoulder-length hair sits on a stool in this black and white portrait. He is wearing a dark, unzipped sweatshirt with a black T-shirt underneath. He is wearing grey sweat pants and his hands are clasped on his lap.
Patrik Dela Cuesta (CinemaRolls Studios)

Patrik Dela Cuesta has been experimenting with different types of editing techniques and motion graphics since middle school. He is also an automobile enthusiast who can regularly be found at meets near Portage Avenue.

More about Project POV: Sisler Create

CBC Manitoba’s Project POV: Sisler Create is a storytelling collaboration that partners filmmaking students with CBC Manitoba journalists to produce short docs. The collaboration is in its second year. Past projects can be found here

During fall 2023, CBC journalists taught storytelling to filmmaking students and led producing workshops over several weeks at the Create program at Sisler High School.

The post-high school program focuses on education and career pathways into the creative industries. Students can take courses in animation, film, game design, visual effects, graphic design and interactive digital media. 

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