Every week my friends and I get together to participate in the activity that brought us all together – breakdancing. During these dance sessions, we share new ideas and moves only to be seen by each other. If any of us were to copy the idea or move, then they are biting. In general, when a dancer executes a move distinct to another and is precise and exact as originally performed, it is biting. Bboy Thesis taking an idea from another dance style and incorporating it into his breakdance style is not biting, because biting means taking another dancer’s move and performing it exactly how he or she executed the movement.
A dancer is any person who participates in the form of art that practices body movements that follow the beat of the music. When a breakdancer incorporates movements found in other dance styles such as vogue, house, jazz, hip-hop, swing, salsa, or gymnastics, it is not a form of biting. This is because a breakdancer evolves the movement by adding their own style, almost changing it altogether. The evolution of the movement is what progresses the dance, and one who is at such an advanced level combines new with the fundamental movements, toprock, footwork, power and holds, to make up breakdancing.
Thesis is a world-class break-boy who has participated in many international breakdance competitions, in places such as Europe, Korea, and in regions around the United States (Calvin). He dances with his own unique style and charisma, expressing the music through movements as if he were music. A typical movement is a physical movement of one’s body to change place, position, or posture (Merriam Webster). What differentiates a dance movement from a movement is that it consists of hops, poses, shuffling of the feet, flowing the body like a needle and thread, and controlled explosive motions involving every body part such as the arms, legs, and core.
During Fall Term, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop facilitated by Bboy Thesis. At the end of the workshop, he explained some ways he gets ideas for his unique moves. I distinctly recall Thesis telling the class he got one blow-up move from the dance style vogue. The move is one that would ignite the crowd; therefore, Thesis wanted to incorporate the move, known as a suicide dip, into his style of breakdancing. A suicide dip is when one would fall onto their back from a standing position, and then step back up to continue dancing. Thesis evolved the move where after dropping onto his back, he would blow up into a freeze by using his legs’ momentum to thrust his entire body upward while locking his extended arm to the floor to keep him frozen for several seconds. This is an example as to how one can incorporate a move from another dance style into the breakdancing, without biting the move entirely.
For a dancer to bite a movement, it must be an exact imitation where neither proper credit is given to nor permission asked of the originator, and one acts as if it were their own. Bboy Thesis also takes ideas from the dance style house, which consists of light-footed graceful movements of the feet while in an upright position to the beat of electronic music (Jardy). To incorporate and evolve the movements, he takes the basic idea of the move and adds his own style of dancing to the movements performed prior to going to the ground, toprocking. Thesis does not give credit to the dancer who executed the move, nor does he ask for permission to use the move. He does, in fact, perform the move as if it were his own, but what separates this from biting is the evolutionary process, producing something completely distinguishable while still maintaining the essence of house.
Bboy Thesis is a highly creative, skilled and professional dancer and, therefore, does not steal another’s move, for his unique and intricate threading style is the main reason he has become distinguished. Threading is where one will form windows, openings, by connecting arms and legs to one another or the body; then allowing another body part to move through the window, forming a needle-and-threadlike image. Biting would be any of my friends, or myself, taking Thesis’ exact threading move and performing this without evolving it, crediting Thesis, receiving permission from Thesis, and continuing to use the move as if it were their, or my, own move.
Being able to tell the difference between a bite and the incorporation of an idea is important because no dancer wants to be considered a biter. Those who bite do not go far in their dancing career, for the best can only become the best by including their own style in order to differentiate from the rest. It is not to say that dancers cannot copy another’s movement, all dancers must start somewhere, and the best way to start learning is through imitating movements established by the best. After a dancer understands the expressive idea behind the movements, the difficult task of avoiding biting by evolving the movements to their own style and expression begins. This is the beauty and art of breakdancing, how it progresses by incorporating any and all dances, and the freedom to add one’s own style to evolve the dance further and further, indefinitely.