Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Inspiring Show: Ichigeki at Battle of the Year 2005

Let's jump forward from 2003 to 2005 now. And we're at Battle of the Year in Germany. Our inspiring show for today is Ichigeki's showcase at BOTY 2005. This bboy crew from Japan has most recently been documented in the film Planet BBoy. Highlights from their show are in that film along with some of their personal stories. On the international bboy stage, this one showcase has inspired many bboys and bgirls worldwide. (Photo above is from the Dance Delight website where Ichigeki won BOTY in Japan prior to going to the final competition in Germany.)

You can see a video of their performance here:

The central concept of the show was a DJ on stage using his turntables to motivate the movements of the other dancers. The other Ichigeki bboys were arranged in two circles, laying on the ground, as if they were the actual records on the turntables. As our lead DJ started the music, the dancers then moved in circles along with the beat. They dynamically leapt, stopped, and turned at specific moments. You can imagine how the crowd went wild for this presentation. In Planet BBoy, the crew had been documenting practicing the routine in walkways of the subway system as well as sharing their personal thoughts on what the show meant to them. They went on to win the prize for best show at BOTY 2005 as well as battling in the final round against South Korea's Last For One. Although this 2005 team has retired from the bboy scene, their turntable-inspired showcase continues to live on in our memories. It was cleverly staged and made excellent use of bboy footwork and ground transitions to create the turntable movement. There were dramatic climaxes and punctuation marks that peppered their performance. They simply weren't doing a show. Ichigeki was making a statement.

Perhaps the documentary film revealed their intentions at its best by sharing their journey to the international competition. They wanted to really put themselves out there - to share who they are without regards to pressures of winning the competition. Now that's artistic freedom. These bboys were brave enough to be themselves and to bare their creative souls. That's pretty rare nowadays especially when it's so easy to want to please others with our craft. Too often we find ourselves compromising our artistic spirits by seeking comfort and protection in what is safe and known. We base our decisions in fear. And when we act out of fear, creativity is crushed. That's why Ichigeki is so inspiring with this BOTY 2005 showcase. Yes, it was a great concept. Yes, it was well-executed. But it was their understated willingness to be true to themselves, which stands out. Imagine if more of us were willing to take that risk. What if more of us stepped into cyphers and freestyled regardless of what others think? What if more of us competed in contests with a healthy sense of being willing to improve after receiving constructive feedback? Our culture might actually be filled with new voices that haven't had the courage to speak up until now.

In the end, Ichigeki's show represented some of the best work that bboys were doing in showcases up to that point. Several crews have gone on to contribute equally stunning work at Battle of the Year as well as other top tier competitions. But the 2005 Ichigeki crew ended their careers on an artistic high, which will likely be studied and remembered for years to come.

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