Blog: Niek Traa

One member of Dutch break dancing troupe The Ruggeds explains that creativity is no longer king in the world of competitions and why they've taken to the stage

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My crew and I are pretty notorious when it comes to the breakdancing scene. We travel the world to compete in battles, and have won our fair share of trophies in the past 10 years. Officially we started out in 2005, but we’ve been dancing together much longer than that. I think we started at a perfect time, when creativity was king in the break scene. Competitions had just started getting bigger so people weren’t so focused on winning as they are today. Nowadays there are a lot of people who take more of a sporting approach to battles, because you have to be fit and can’t afford to make any mistakes. Breaking has become so much more technical in the past 10 years. This shift in mentality changes the game.

When we started out dancing it was all about making mistakes work, which led to so many different characters and styles in our crew. Although we still love to battle, we wanted to do something where we can make and break all the rules – where we can lock the door and have an audience be in our world for a while. In a competition you’re bound by the music, the judging and the format. So we decided to step outside of the cypher and on to the stage.

Our piece is about our relationship with adrenaline. It’s the force that drives our dance. B-boying is about battling, drums and always pushing the limits of what you can do, and what’s physically possible. I think the essence of breaking relates to a very instinctive and raw feeling. We want people to feel that impact of adrenaline when they’re watching the piece – to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to dance on that edge.

Besides wanting to embrace our background and inexperience in the theatre our focus was to show people the language of our crew as much as possible, without making too many adaptations to it. We wanted to take the energy that we usually dance with and bring that to the stage. That way we get to show the audience something they haven’t seen before.

Thinking back it’s insane that we got to perform the first piece we ever made for the first time on stage at Sadler’s Wells in London. We’ll be eternally grateful to Jonzi D and the rest of the team at Breakin’ Convention for having that kind of faith in us. Breakin’ Convention took us along for the ride to the United States, and gave us the opportunity to perform at the Apollo in New York. Back home the success of Adrenaline didn’t go unnoticed either. We received funding to create our first full-length piece at the end of the year, and we’ll be touring in 2017. Without the platform of Breakin’ Convention we would’ve never been able to get to where we are now in such a short amount of time. But first we’ll be in the UK for two more weeks, performing at the Blackpool Grand this Saturday, so come get your Adrenaline on!

Breakin’ Convention is at Blackpool Grand Theatre, 21 May

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