Yan­gon b-boy spins his way to Asia fi­nals

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - MYO SATT myosatt@mm­times.com

HIP-HOP, head spins and big hopes marked Myan­mar’s first ever in­ter­na­tional b-boy com­pe­ti­tion on Novem­ber 12 at Dagon Cen­tre. Around 50 b-boys and b-girls bat­tled to the beats of DJ Bobby Funk for the chance to rep­re­sent Myan­mar in a knock­out-style com­pe­ti­tion at the 2016 Taipei BBoy City World Fi­nal on De­cem­ber 17th.

With over­seas judges Bo Jin from Tai­wan, C Lil from Laos, and Gonza and G1 from Thai­land look­ing on, b-boys and b-girls danced their very best to show the world that the Myan­mar b-boy scene is a force to be reck­oned.

One by one dancers were elim­i­nated as the hip-hop mu­sic pulsed through the out­door cen­tre un­til fi­nally, af­ter a knock-out round, a clear win­ner emerged: 30-year-old self-taught BBoy vet­eran Phyo Thu Aung.

Phyo Thu Aung first started b-boy­ing in early 2000, at a time when the BBoy scene was al­most non-ex­is­tent in his neigh­bour­hood of Twante town­ship. With­out any for­mal train­ing, the then-teenaged Phyo Thu Aung re­lied on DVDs of in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions as his guides.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited about go­ing to the in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in Taipei. I know I have to com­pete with peo­ple who are bet­ter and have lots more ex­pe­ri­ence than me,” said Phyo Thu Aung, “But I’m go­ing to try my best. I have to train harder in this next month be­fore I go to Taipei.”

The win­ner of the Taipei com­pe­ti­tion will move on to one of the world’s big­gest b-boy com­pe­ti­tions, the Undis­puted World b-boy Mas­ters cham­pi­onship which will be held at the end of Jan­uary 2017 in Prague.

Though Phyo Thu Aung has cer­tainly made a name for him­self in Myan­mar with 16 years as a pro­fes­sional b-boy un­der his belt, hav­ing won first prize in both Vol 1 and 3 of The First Jam com­pe­ti­tion se­ries, the rest of the Myan­mar b-boy scene has much to im­prove ac­cord­ing to the judges.

Bo Jin from Tai­wan said he sees his role as not only to cri­tique the b-boy com­peti­tors but to give them con­struc­tive feed­back to help strengthen the al­ready pas­sion­ate and tight knit com­mu­nity.

“We want the b-boy com­mu­nity here to de­velop like other coun­tries,” said Bo Jin, “What I see now is that b-boys are not skilled enough. There’s room for im­prove­ment. And I think that’s ok. I know Myan­mar only be­came a democ­racy one year ago so I think it makes sense that the b-boy com­mu­nity isn’t as de­vel­oped as oth­ers.”

The judge sees Phyo Thu Aung’s chance to rep­re­sent Myan­mar at the Taipei com­pe­ti­tion as an over­seas learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, one which he can bring back and share with his BBoy com­mu­nity.

Bo Jin has seen the same kind of growth in the b-boy scene years be­fore in Nepal.

“A few years ago, their b-boy com­mu­nity was the same level as Myan­mar’s is now. But this year I heard that the b-boy con­tes­tant from Nepal won third place in the South­east Asia b-boy com­pe­ti­tion. So, I be­lieve that Myan­mar can im­prove like Nepal.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tor of Myan­mar Street Dance and or­gan­iser of Yan­gon BBoy City 2016, Jimmy Ko Ko, agrees. Not only can the Myan­mar b-boy scene learn from other coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly from neigh­bour­ing Thai­land, but to con­tinue, the com­mu­nity needs both fi­nan­cial and in­sti­tu­tional sup­port.

“It would be best if the gov­ern­ment sup­ports us like in other coun­tries. I mean not only the street dance com­mu­nity but all arts and sports ac­tiv­i­ties for young peo­ple so we can be on equal foot­ing with other coun­tries,” he said.

Jimmy Ko Ko dreams of more and more com­pe­ti­tions like Yan­gon BBoy City 2016 so young b-boys and b-girls have a chance to show what they’re made of. Ex­cept for the fifth edi­tion of The First Jam com­pe­ti­tion later in De­cem­ber, the op­por­tu­ni­ties for dancers are few and far be­tween.

Still, what­ever changes may come, the Myan­mar b-boy scene has proved to be re­silient and fiery through­out. Bo Jin as­sures the crowd that, whether Phyo Thu Aung wins or loses the Taipei ti­tle, it is more about the ex­pe­ri­ence of the com­pe­ti­tion above any­thing else.

“So just keep go­ing and keep prac­tis­ing,” he said, “I can’t guar­an­tee that break­danc­ing and b-boy­ing will make a lot of money. But what I see that hip -hop and break­danc­ing makes our hearts and minds happy. So, go on and do what you are pas­sion­ate about.”

Pho­tos: Naing Lin Soe

Phyo Thu Aung per­forms at the Novem­ber 12 in­ter­na­tional b-com­pe­ti­tion, which he would go on to win.

Judge Bo Jin from Tai­wan said Myan­mar’s b-boy scene has the po­ten­tial for rapid growth, much like Nepal’s.

The com­peti­tors vied for a chance to rep­re­sent Myan­mar at the 2016 Taipei B-Boy City World Fi­nal on De­cem­ber 17.

The art of b-boy danc­ing is sim­i­lar to break­danc­ing, but with more at­ti­tude.

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