Almost every day, I practice my craft—the official term as B-Boys is “Breaking” but mainstream, “Break dancing”—in a dance studio. I could do it anywhere, really, including in my garage, but a local dance academy director and personal friend was gracious enough to allow me to use their space whenever I need. It’s a huge blessing, and I’m really thankful to know a sister in Christ that shares the same passion for dance that I do. Every time I step in to that studio and turn on break beats, it unlocks a purpose in me.
Even on “bad days”, or days where I’m not particularly feeling like getting up to do anything, once I get into my sanctuary—and it is my form of worship, I certainly couldn’t do it without God giving me the gift—a switch flips. I become less concerned about food, my day, or even my family; I get more concerned about sharpening my tool. I start pushing limits physically; I try doing crazy stuff that other B-boys haven’t done or haven’t imagined. It’s taxing on my body. But I’ve always been a guy welcoming of pain, in a weird way.
In the world of B-Boys, we have a saying that permeates through our scene. It’s told to everyone, from beginners to advanced dancers, and is a staple of our mindset in approaching the dance. “Crash to create.” The term “crash” refers to trying a move that maybe you’ve never done before—or maybe is at the time too difficult or untested—and failing. It’s when a B-Boy or B-Girl looks like they’re going to hit a big movement, but then falls unintendedly out of it—maybe they fall on their side, or their face; or instead of hitting a freeze, they collapse.
It doesn’t have to be a miserable, painful looking or blatantly obvious fail, either; it can be a miniscule mistake to casual observers.
Yet even when it happens we embrace it—we embrace crashing to a larger extent. There’s a purpose to crashing, which is why we have accepted it as a fundamental part of our culture; of being a B-Boy.
And it’s a lesson that applies not just to B-Boys, but everyone.
Development is painful progress
Often times you hear that phrase “Art imitates life”. I know for a lot of people that are artists of any kind though, it can eventually evolve into, “Art becomes life.” From the passion that an artist—dancer, singer, actor, writer, whatever—gives into what they do, what they do gives back into their life. It can shape the way they think; the way they develop; the way they act. Art becomes less of a side character, and more of an integral player in the game.
B-Boys and B-Girls can certainly attest to that, and I can personally attest to that. We carry a mentality into our day-to-day walks that come straight from our culture. From having a strong, never-back-down in a battle mentality, to leadership for your crew—your brothers and sisters that battle beside you—to many more which I’m sure I will write about later down the road; our art becomes our life. Really, mature breakers can say that they grow from exchanges in the cypher. Not only to benefit their breaking, but to take from those exchanges and apply them to their lives—an amazing reality going beyond just dancing.
Something we all learn as we develop our individual styles and techniques in the dance is that development is integral to rising up and achieving greater heights. But just as important to remember, is that whatever that development is, it should and will be painful. If a breaker is doing the same, basic move that he has been doing for the past year or more, and isn’t going through the rigors of pain and trying to tax his or her body, they probably aren’t progressing at all. Spinning on your head isn’t a nice feeling when you first try it—neither is jumping into the air and landing on a body part without catching yourself. Yes, to succeed in our dance, you have to come to grips with the reality: progress equals enduring pain.
My style, “Roach1” style, in particular is also painful. Even as I develop to stand out and be original, I’m stepping on hands; jumping on fingers; landing on a body part from jumping, or flexing my body parts in normally painful contortions. All with intention; all for the very sake of progressing and advancing. My motto for my style suits what I do: “If it [the move] isn’t painful and unique, especially while developing it, it isn’t worth my time.”
The truth is, the notion that development is related to pain applies to our lives, too. In anything, if we succumb to trying to always be in pleasure, we put at risk our advancement. There’s a reason why God made puberty and growth spurts uncomfortable and at times, painful. It teaches us in a very tangible way that development is painful. Although that physical development is painful, the progress to be made is worth it—you grow into your body; you sprout into adulthood.
That pain helps you feel even more comfortable once it’s subsided and taken its course.
We all need to learn to fall with style
Going hand in hand with painful development is the fact that we all crash in our lives to continue that same development; crashing is going to hurt. It can be any number of things. Maybe we failed in numerous relationships. Or maybe we lost our job due to an unforeseen circumstance. Our spending habits might put us in a hole, or our egos lost us friends. It’s obvious that there are a number of ways we crash in our life—we take a risk on a new move, and fall onto our faces.
You might have seen a famous movie, with a couple famous voice actors about toys in the past decade or so. In one particular scene of the movie, one of the toys remarks, while seeing his counterpart impress everyone, “That’s not flying! It’s falling with style!” Now, while this phrase ended up becoming a kind of “bringing mutual understanding and togetherness” phrase by the conclusion of the movie, for us—the casual viewer—it can be an epiphany on how we approach the events of “crashing” in our lives.
There’s a stark contrast between crashing hard in a blatantly obvious, destructive manner, and crashing with grace and a shred of dignity. It’s the big difference, potentially make or break moment in breaking—either the dancer falls horribly, sprawling to the ground; or they slip, catch themselves and flow into another move. Just as well, it’s the big difference, make or break moment in life too: we can be the person making excuses and yelling for his misdeeds, or the person taking accountability for their faults and apologizing. We can be the husband ruining his marriage and cheating on his wife, leading to divorce after 30 years of bliss; or the husband confessing his affair, crying his eyes out, and taking the long road to earning her trust again.
Learning how to fall with style can mean saving not only our dreams, but ourselves. When we realize that how we fall is totally within our control; that the way in which we handle our crashes often reflects who we are intrinsically as people, we begin to see real change and save opportunities to recover. It is only by falling with style—in a way that truly reflects our innermost resilience and gracefulness—that we truly adapt for our futures. Without doing that, we are only left with a front; a man or a woman who has pretended to be a dancer their whole life, but has really only been baby stepping.
You can never stop yourself from crashing in life—it’s impossible. We are all going to have highs and lows; all of us are going to have our fair share of mistakes and fall from our best from time to time. Biblically, God speaks of falling all the time; not just to have you know that you will fail occasionally, but to assure you that it’s foreseen, and He knows and understands. Because at the end of the day, one verse encapsulates us as a whole:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” –Romans 3:23
The end message is that it’s a given that you’re going to crash. If God knows that, then there’s no possibility of it not happening. But you’re not in it alone. We all have sinned, all have fallen short, and all will continue to fall short of God, our goals and our endeavors. Simply put, God is perfect, and we’re not—we are commanded to strive to emulate, but we will never be able to truly duplicate. He’s the Alpha and Omega; the end all, be all.
How we handle our crashes however, is up to us and within our realm of doing! We can control our emotions and act; we can be the better man or woman; and the most important, we can show our powerful, inner character as we tumble to the ground.
Don’t fear the inevitable fall. Makes moves to better them. Push for your own progress in life.
Just know that when you’re crashing from that move, God’s given you the grace to fall in style.
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach