Even After 20 Years of Dancing, B-Boy Ronnie Abaldonado Has No Plans of Quitting

 

At the age of 32, Ronnie Abaldonado, or B-Boy Ronnie as he’s known in the b-boying world, has spent more than 20 years breakdancing. His career is filled with highlights like winning the second season of America’s Best Dance Crew (the reality show that arguably re-popularized b-boying in American culture since its heyday in the ’80s) with Super CR3W; starring in the 2009 documentary Turn It Loose about b-boys; and performing with ABDC season one winners JabbaWockeeZ in their own live stage show in Las Vegas since 2010.

He’s fresh off the Red Bull BC One All Stars tour — his 10th consecutive year either competing, judging or attending the event — and instead of indulging in some much-deserved rest, he’s in San Francisco, working on readying the new satellite studio of Distrct, Super CR3W’s unorthodox dance studio-cum-barbershop tattoo parlor, for its December soft opening. He also has to check in with Footwork Productions, the events company he and his brother run.

Abaldonado divides the rest of his time between JabbaWockeeZ and Super CR3W (a collaboration crew made up of three distinct breaking crews, including his original Full Force Crew), in addition to flying in and out of the country to break in competitions all over the globe. Luckily, because he’s been dancing for so long, his training is more akin to conditioning. “I’m already comfortable with my moves, and a lot of my training is just me maintaining them,” he says. He just has to adjust his mentality, depending on whether it’s a crew competition or a one-on-one. “In a crew battle, you make a routine, you go through round for round, and you get to save energy. In a one-on-one, you have to go one after another, so your endurance has to be more up to par.”

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He admits that “there’s so much going on, it’s kind of crazy. If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing. [Full Force Crew] has been a crew for 20 years, so it’s not like it’s coming out of nowhere. It’s just been in the works for many years to come.” And with two decades’ worth of experience, Abaldonado has developed a better sense of what he wants in his life and future, and in the future of b-boy dancing.

He remembers the early days of b-boying, when it was more commonly called breaking, as a young Filipino boy in Guam. “This was the ’80s; all over TV, movies like Beat Street were on. I remember trying to do certain moves, imitating it, and I ended up doing [the moves] in a Christmas performance in second grade. That’s the earliest memory I have of actually breaking. I didn’t know what I was doing,” he laughs. “I was doing, like, coffee grinders and the Russian kick. But I feel like I’ve always been just dancing my whole life. I remember watching the premiere of Michael Jackson’s music video, Black or White, and just loving dancing.”

Still, it took a move from Guam to Southern California to his current residence in Las Vegas for Abaldonado to get serious about breaking. With his friend Rock and his older brother Rodolfo, the middle schooler founded Full Force, in 1995. “We were that crew that was known for having our own style,” he says. “At that time, there were b-boys doing freezes; we were known for an abstract style. I had all those moves, like head spins, but I was getting recognized for my intricate footwork and freezes. I ended up sliding by in all these competitions, not based on how crazy my moves were, but on how original, because I looked so different from anyone else.”

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When asked about the differences between b-boying back then and now, Abaldonado has plenty to say: “Now in this generation, you see people who break like me, who break like everyone else. Back then, if you saw a well-known b-boy done in silhouette, you knew exactly who they were by the way they top rock, by their footwork, by their power moves. But now, there are just so many b-boys out there and the skill level is so far beyond and amazing, but the originality has been taken away. Back in the ’90s, maybe the skill level wasn’t as high as it is now, but there were so many original b-boys.

“That was me,” he continues. “I was known for being one of the original b-boys.”

YouTube and websites like Red Bull BC One that live stream battles are responsible for this constantly evolving level of skill and motivation. As Abaldonado explains, “That’s pretty much where the scene is now: watching videos of battles live. Back then, we would have to wait for a VHS battle of a competition, and it would be outdated by the time we got it. [Now] b-boys just have access to any battle anytime they want to see it. I was just in Russia a few days ago, and I was watching the Red Bull BC One Asia Pacific qualifier live in my hotel room while it was going on in Taipei, Taiwan. There was an open forum, and one of our friends was commentating live. To me, that was just mind-boggling.”

Despite his growing collection of Nike Air Maxes and appearances in everything from reality TV shows to Braun shaving adverts, Abaldonado is definitely old-school. Consider his favorite dance movies and what they say about his idea of b-boying and its growing cultural presence: the aforementioned Beat Street, 1983’s Wild Style — both seminal pieces of cinema devoted to early hip-hop culture, of which b-boying is an offshoot — and 2013’s Battle of the Year. Abaldonado is partial to the latter because, as he explains, “it is the first real b-boy movie about our time that actually showed b-boys.” His rhetoric fits in nicely with his growing desire to mentor — if only he could find the time. “With the new generation of b-boys, you see where their inspiration comes from — they either learn from this b-boy or are a big fan and just start copying their moves,” he says. “So with me, I’ve always wanted to take someone under my wing. I want to pitch to Red Bull: There should be a camp where each All Star gets their own little protégé to train. That’s probably the next step, to really build a team, a community.”

He pauses, thoughtfully. “I don’t feel like I’m done.”

 

–STORY BY JASMINE LEE
This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here. 

 

Kenichi Ebina’s Awesome Michael Jackson Dance Tribute

 

On September 18, 2013, exactly one year ago, Kenichi Ebina won the hearts of many, many fans while competing for and winning the eighth season of America’s Got Talent. With hypnotic dance moves and a humble personality, what’s not to love?

The 40-year-old, Japanese dancer was rewarded with $1 million as well as his very own Las Vegas show. Recently, one of his most mesmerizing performances has been making its way around the internet. This performance was a tribute to none other than the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Now I’ve seen a number of people try to recreate Michael Jackson’s dance moves, but their skills usually pale in comparison. This is where Ebina stands out. Not only does he nail Jackson’s moves with ease, he even throws in his own moves as well.

Titled “MJ is Forever Alive,” the tribute has Ebina dancing along to some of Jackson’s most beloved songs and even has an accompanying video montage which can be played along with his performance.

The best part of all is that this video was taken at the San Francisco HipHop DanceFest 2009– years before Ebina won America’s Got Talent. Despite his younger age, it is clear that he has natural talent and ability. Check out the awesome MJ tribute for yourself and tell us what you think.

 

 

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Adorable Chinese Boy Does The Best Michael Jackson Impression EVER

 

We’ve found the perfect person to help make your Friday even better! Pan Cheng Hao the tiny toddler who made his debut appearance on China’s Got Talent will certainly put a smile on your face.

The panel of judges didn’t quite know what to make of Pan Cheng Hao when he ran up on stage. He begins by very seriously teliing them that he joined China’s Got Talent to train himself and his body. Of course, later he clears things up and admits that he took part in the show to try and get the other kids to play with him again (Awww). 

The second the music begins, Pan Cheng Hao snaps into attention. He nails everything from the moonwalk to MJ’s hip thrusting and even does an impressive amount of facials. This adorable and impressive dance pushes the crowd to their feet and Pan Cheng Hao walks away with a giant “yes” from the judges.

But not before striking a few more poses, of course.

 

PARALLELS: Harry Shum, Jr. Explores the Similarities Between Dance and Sport

 

When dancer, actor and choreographer Harry Shum, Jr. saw a TV special from 1958 called Gene Kelly: Dancing – A Man’s Game, he was quickly captivated and inspired. During the special, Gene Kelly interpreted the moves of top athletes, such as Mickey Mantle and Sugar Ray Robinson, into a choreographed dance. Being both an avid dancer and athlete, it didn’t take long for Harry to begin exploring the similarities between dance and sport, despite the ongoing idea that the two are on very different spectrums.

Harry teamed up with filmmaker Cole Walliser, as well as leading contemporary dancers and athletes to create a new video series called “Parallels.” The series analyzes and compares the movements of dancers and athletes to emphasize the similarities between the two genres and what that parallel could mean.

“They serve two completely different purposes, but what makes sport and dance the same?” Harry asks. “Timing. Grace. Rhythm. Control. This is not a direct comparison, but an exploration of the tenacity, emotion and physical prowess that it takes to reach the highest level of athleticism. Is sport an art form? Is dance a sport?”

The series consists of four videos which juxtaposes the movement, athleticism and grace of Red Bull action sport athletes to various kinds of dancers. “Parallels” premieres today, July 30. Check them out for yourself below.

 

 

 

 

 

Calling All EXO Fans: This Dubstep Dance Practice Video Will Make Your Day

It’s quite an understatement to say that EXO took over 2013. They took the #1 spot on M! Countdown New Year’s special, won “Song of The Year” at the 2013 KBS Music Festival and sold over a million copies of their album in a single year. This is an accomplishment that no other kpop group has been able to achieve in twelve years.

Let’s not forget that the dance video to their hit song “Growl” has over 23,000,000 views.

So what’s the secret behind their overwhelming success? Is it the fact that there are 12 members? Is it because there are Korean and Chinese members? Is it their good looks, charming personalities and talented voices? We’re gonna go ahead and say that it’s probably all of these reasons combined.

According to allkpop, EXO responded to all their success in 2013 by saying, “We sincerely thank everyone who helped us break the valuable record of being a million seller. 2013 has become an unforgettable year for us as we received a lot of love from many people and received good results. In order to return the love, we will become an EXO who will continue to work hard next year.”

EXO is certainly living up to their word and are already turning heads in 2014. At the KBS Music Festival, EXO performed a squeal-worthy “Dubstep Intro.” Today, they released the dance practice video to the performance.

Although the video is only a little over a minute long, it will certainly be your favorite minute of the day.

 

Still can’t tell the 12 members apart? Click here for the Ultimate Guide to EXO and be sure to check out more of their dance skills with their other practice video below:

 

Harry Shum Jr. Choreographs “Painfully Shy” Interpretive Dance

Here at Audrey, we’ve always been quite the fan of Harry Shum Jr. and for good reason! Aside from his popular role as Mike Chang on Fox television show Glee, his powerful role as Chaz Young in White Frog and his swoon-worthy abs, Harry Shum Jr. is also widely known for his show-stopping dance skills.

This Chinese American entertainer began his dance career in high school then continued under several studios in San Francisco. He is known for blending a number of different dance styles including popping, tutting,waving, locking, breaking and also contemporary.

While we’ve been seeing quite a lot of Harry on the television screen, we don’t seem to know too much about his personal life.

Finally, Harry Shum Jr. lets us in. Creating a beautiful mess, Harry choreographed an interpretive dance to show how it’s like to be painfully shy. In this very personal and very beautiful dance, we get to know the actor and his personal struggle just a little bit more.

“If you, right now, are in a shell,” says the narrator, “you should know that you’re not alone — that there are many, many other people like you… it might even be necessary right now. It might keep you safe for a time. But after the danger is gone and after it’s exhausted its use, you’ll find a way out.”

Watch the dance below.

 

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Must-See Video | Welcome to The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Sure the 2020 Olympics is years away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited about it. Japan certainly seems excited to host the big event. Earlier in September, much to the excitement of Japanese citizens, it was announced that Tokyo would host the Olympic games in 2020. Of course, this decision was made after the Japanese prime minister flew in to reassure voters that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima power plant would not create a health risk.

“Here in Buenos Aires, we have received many voices of support and felt the passion from people in Japan,” says Tokyo governor Naoki Inose. “I am overjoyed to learn that our dream has come true.”

By hosting the Olympics in 2020, Tokyo will be the first Asian city to host the Olympics twice, having also hosted the 1964 Games.

In honor of the big event, World Order, a Japanese band which started in 2009, decided to create “Welcome to Tokyo.” The band, which was created by former mixed martial artist Genki Sudo, combines music, slow-motion moves and robotic moves.  The video has already gathered nearly 800,000 views and for good reason — its both hypnotizing and entertaining.

Be sure to check out their other visually stunning piece below:

 

MUST WATCH: 11-Year Old Dances to Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause,’ Is Totally Fierce

11-year old Sean Lew is probably the fiercest Little Monster out there, and we’re sure Lady Gaga would totally agree.

The professional dancer (he turned pro 3 years ago) has 7 years of dance experience, including international performances with collectiveUth and a stint on Glee, so to say that his performance is impressive is a complete understatement.

 

In the video, which has garnered over 335,000 views since being uploaded last month, Sean dances to, or more appropriately, completely dominates, a killer jazz funk piece by choreographer Miguel Zarate at North Hollywood’s Movement Lifestyle studio.  Sean’s precision, passion and obvious talent is completely jaw-dropping and rivals that of dancers twice and three times his age.

Don’t believe us?  Just take a look below!

Video of The Week: Japanese Dancer Kenichi Ebina Wins “America’s Got Talent”

Months ago, Kenichi Ebina’s audition performance for America’s Got Talent went viral. Ebina stunned the judges and viewers nationwide with his “dance-ish” performance that included the robot, some gasp-worthy matrix moves, and entertaining martial arts.

Not only did the 39-year-old dancer’s video trend social media sites, he also gained a standing ovation from the judges and and continued on in the competition.

As the competition went on, Ebina continues to earn his spot at the top. His performances ranged from high-energy and fast-paced dances to slow and emotional routines. He easily kept the judges’ attention and became a fan favorite.

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Last night, after one of the longest, heart-pounding pauses, Ebina was announced the winner of America’s Got Talent. Although Ebina was engulfed in lights, sparks, and confetti, he was unable to hide his surprise with the results and happily gave out his thank you’s to his family, friends, and fans.

Kenichi Ebina will be rewarded $1 million along with his very own Las Vegas show.

In honor of this very talented dancer winning, our Video of The Week is his mesmerizing audition piece.  Check it out below as well as his winning moment. You can see all of this other performances here.

 

Amy Yakima & Alex Wong Perform BOLLYWOOD on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Its always quite a delight to see Bollywood as a dance style featured on such a mainstream dance show as So You Think You Can Dance. Not only is it a representation of beautiful Asian dance, its also just incredibly fun to watch.

Last night, the final 6 dancers of So You Think You Can Dance Season 10  gave it their all in hopes of claiming a spot in the finale. The judges have raved that this group of finalists is quite possibly the best they’ve seen yet. Admittedly, I had high expectations.

Luckily, they didn’t disappoint.

19-year-old Ukrainian jazz dancer, Amy Yakima was given Alex Wong as a partner to perform a Bollywood-style dance.

This is a big deal. 23-year-old Wong was a previous contestant on SYTYCD, but injured his Achilles tendon during rehearsals of his Bollywood number with Adechike Torbert, and was unable to perform. As it turned out, the injury required surgery and at least 3 months recovery time. Wong was forced to to withdraw from the competition.

Needless to say, everyone was holding their breath during this performance. We can only imagine the fear that Wong must have felt having to perform the very same style that took him out of the competition a few years ago.

Luckily, the performance was a success. Following a standing ovation from the judges, the two dancers were showered with compliments for their physically intense number. The performance was so well done that Amy secured her spot for the finals.

Check out the fun performance below:

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