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International urban movement conference celebrates 10th anniversary

April 30, 2013 By Valeria Davis

A decade of urban dance movement evolution will be marked as competitors from around the world converge on UW–Madison May 1-5 for 10th Annual International Festival of Urban Movement.

Artwork: break dancer & festival logo


The festival will take place at various venues around campus, culminating in the annual competition finals at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. All of the events, workshops, film reviews, panel discussions and annual urban dance styles competition (including popping, break-dancing and free-styling movement) are free and open to the public.

In 2003, conference co-founders and former UW–Madison students Jarius King and Henry Gomez challenged city policies against allowing local clubs to host events featuring hip-hop dancing, music, or dress. Thus, the somewhat ominous name of the festival — Breakin’ the Law, or BTL — was born (although no laws were broken at the time).

King is now a fulltime performing artist in Chicago and continues to co-direct the festival with UW–Madison graduate student Katrina Flores. Hosted by the UW Breakdance Club, the festival draws hundreds of participants, many from long-partnering international venues, says Flores.

“The festival has been able to grow in such amazing ways because of our global connections and involvement in the breaking scene,” Flores says. “Jarius King, Charlie Lee and I are practitioners of this dance form and members of the breaking community. We’re not outsiders looking in; rather, we live the culture and are of the culture.”

“We are the Wisconsin Idea manifested both ways. We bring the world to Wisconsin and Wisconsin to the world through hip-hop culture and breaking culture specifically.”

Jarius King

New to the festival this year are expanded Physics of Breaking learning experiences, live streaming during the Finals Battles and Epicenter Cypher session, as well as a free concert by Clyde Stubblefield and his band honoring his legacy and impact on the music that drives urban movement. The film “Among B-Boys” that highlights the ways Hmong culture has impacted breaking and vice-versa will be screened, followed by a discussion with director Christopher “Paper-Son” Woon and featured artists Villn and M-Pact.

A barbecue at Eagle Heights on Sunday, May 5, will round out the festival in a family-reunion-style sendoff.

Festival organizers incorporate integrated learning experiences into the festival through partnerships with the Physics Learning Center, Wonders of Physics, and WID Outreach in the presentation of the Physics of Breaking events, Flores added. In addition, they promote health and wellness throughout the festival by holding workshops and learning experiences that speak to healthy diets, training methodologies and community support.

“We are the Wisconsin Idea manifested both ways,” King says. “We bring the world to Wisconsin and Wisconsin to the world through hip-hop culture and breaking culture specifically.”


Tags: arts, dance, diversity