20 years Battle Toys - the interview.
Breakdance - an 80's phenomenon?
Somehow, everybody grown up in the late 80's and early 90's knows about brekadance and it´s heritage from the hip hop and youth culture. But it is much more than that. We had the chance to meet and support the Battle Toys crew from Plochingen (close to Stuttgart) during the BOTY (Battle of the year) contest in Germany by the end of 2016.
Hello Thomas, you are the head of the Battle Toys. Please introduce yourself and tell us about your history and about your daily routine beside breakdance.
Hi there! My name is Thomas and I am dancing with the Battle Toys for over 20 years now. My everyday life is relatively ordinary. I have a son with two years, a fulltime job and I teach breakdance two times a week beside my own workout as well as breakdance training.
After 20 years crew history you reached one of your biggest aims by winning the national BOTY for the first time. Tell us about your feelings reaching your aim and what´s next after that.
A big dream came true!... It is so nice reaching one of your biggest targets. We competited at the BOTY since 1998 and we announced that our last particpation will be in 2016, and that´s why we are even more happy by winning this final competition. Never say never, I guess :). Right now we are still working hard for nationwide shows and bookings.
While breakdance was really huge in the late 80's and early 90's, there was kind of a stagnation within the last years in the breakdance scene. What is your opinion on that and why?
Well, of course there where a lot of ups and downs within the last years. But always keep in mind: Breakdance is one of the backbones of the Hip Hop culture and also one of the most famous dances worldwide; especially for teenagers. So somehow breakdance was always present. We discovered it in the year 1996/1997 and founded the Battle Toys Crew - since that time there where also some more ups and downs but eventually we feel that there is more publicity for that dance style then ever before. TV-shows, shows on big stages - more and more people know about it. And guess what. Even more people will get into breakdance once it will become an official olympic discipline, which is actually happening at the Youth-Olympics in Buenos Aires in 2018.
Breakdance is not just breakdance. Especially in large groups there are many different styles of breakdance. Can you tell us about the differences?
Back in the days it was all the same - but you´re right - nowadays there are many styles and categories with individual competitions.
Classical breakdance: Free of any style and able to involve all styles and elements you like but basically packed with Toprocks, Footworks, Freezes and Powermoves.
Poppin: Many will recognize this kind as robotic moves. Poppin also has a lot of subcategories.
Lockin: Stand-up Dance. Legs and arms in line, arms will be rolled and focused the special points. Lockin is really funky for sure.
You dance for more then 20 years. What does it take to reach and maintain this level. How much practice does it need?
It is about talent and the quality of your workout. Today there are dancers sliding through the air but pushing with only one hand - we never thought this was possible back in the days. I guess your workout Routine is important but not everything can be accomplished just through practice. You also need the physical condition and an understanding for dynamic body movements. The style and scope of your workout is also really different. To train as often as possible is desirable but your body needs also enough time to recover.
When it comes to breakdance many people out there think about jams and small parties with only breakdance affine people, but you also perform at big firm- and public events. How does your show look like in that cases?
We also have a great and positive Feedback on that side. I think Breakdance reaches masses of any kind of age. So many companies and promoters book us and our show to heat up their crowd and their guests for a special breakdance highlight.
You will celebrate your 20th anniversary by the end of April. What are you going to do?
Our anniversary will be celebrated from the 28th to the 30th of April. Our target is an event combining all elements of Hip Hop and offering a lot of fun. We will have some international guests, we will give workshops and we have some graffiti, MC, DJ, dance- und rapshows going on.
After 20 years of dancing, being a host and a judge - is there and end in sight or any bigger target you want to reach before getting retired?
Right now there is no limit. As long as this is making that much fun and giving me that energy back i invest - i will keep on doing that, especially as i invested almost half of my life to that passion. I met so much people and friends with breakdance, i even don´t think about retiring at any time!
How can someone learn Breakdance today? Are there any spots for interested ones?
Many youth centers are offering Breakdance courses. Also many dancing schools do so. But without your own drive and passion there will be no success at all!
The modern youth is growing up in an multimedial world. Smartphones are essential and the major communication tool. We see many pros and cons for that evolution. Is there anything you would like to say to the youth out there?
Of course there are a lot of pros and cons. Social Media made the world small and offers short and easy ways of communication and networking worldwide, but you never should forget about the reality. Take your time for the important things in life and find your nondigital passion. Take my example: dancing... I love watching videos and records about breakdancing online- but there is nothing better than the feeling you get on stage by doing what fulfills you, breakdancing!