Story last updated at 12/17/2008 - 3:46 pm
"B-boying," or breakdancing, began more than 30 years ago on the streets of the Bronx. Its popularity surged in the U.S. until the mid-eighties, but while the fad died, the dance style never disappeared. The B-boy style and hip-hop culture spread across the planet, and skilled dancers from Germany to South Korea evolved the art of B-boying.
Every year, B-boy crews from around the world gather in Germany for the world championship "Battle of the Year." Thousands pack the stadium to watch the dancers, and though the prize money is only a few thousand dollars to be split among the winners, the resulting fame can ensure that crews will be able to performing professionally.
"Planet B-Boy" follows five of the top b-boy crews in the world as they prepare to compete. The defending champions are from South Korea, where B-boying is a relatively new addition to popular culture. We also follow a new Korean team, as well as crews from Japan and France, and representing the U.S., a crew from Las Vegas.
All of the crews are top-notch and highly entertaining to watch. Some of dance segments are so stunning, I kept wishing that the film were longer, showing entire performances instead of just the highlights.
But the strength of the film also comes from delving into the personal lives of some of the dancers. A South Korean young man helps his father come to see the value in what he's doing. A young French boy's mother speaks frankly about her initial racism towards her son's crewmates but comes to realize how much they support and care for her son.
B-boys around the world face generation gaps with their parents, but there are no apparent culture gap between dancers. The beauty of the film is how universal the dance forms are. When crews battle on the big stage, the language of their moves need no translations.
Juneau was treated to the B-boy performances a few weeks ago, when Soul Street performed to a good-sized crowd. I'd bet that most people who enjoyed that performance will be delighted by "Planet B-Boy."
"Planet B-Boy" is showing at the Goldtown Nickelodeon Dec. 18-21.