Breaking science

Jan 8th, 2013

Michelle Osmond

Breaking science

To watch Tony Ingram dance is like watching a moving work of art. The Human Kinetics and Recreation (HKR) student looks like his body is moving involuntarily, in one fluid motion.

Ingram (BSc. ’06) is part of growing trend called breaking or b-boying/b-girling. It might look like what was called break dancing from the 1980s but it’s much more sophisticated than that.

He recalls the first time he saw breaking. “My mind was blown. I loved it because the moves looked like superpowers, as if from a comic book or video game … It blew my mind that it was actually real.”

He admits to being a ‘closet b-boy’ in the 80s, doing handstands in his basement without knowing what he was doing. He also admits that growing up in Port aux Basques wasn’t the best place to learn.

The first time Ingram tried real breaking was in the MUN dance studio, which is now the kinesiology lab in the basement of the Physical Education building. “I walked by and saw someone in there practicing spinning on their hand. I ran in and introduced myself … I could already do little handstands but I couldn't dance at all. I had to learn the foundation.” He adds that his kinesiology courses have helped shape him as a dancer; understanding the mechanics of the body, how to train and the principles of motor learning.

Most breaking is free form, and as Ingram explained, there are two kinds of performance: A cipher, or a dance circle, where people just jump in one at a time and it's more of a shared experience and a battle, which is a competition where participants try to one up the other dancer, as well as steal their confidence.

Ingram views breaking as another form of communication, just with movement instead of words. “I think anyone can learn to dance, if they open up to it. People tend to set limits on themselves when they are not good at something right away. Ultimately, it's about creative self expression, which is definitely all about communicating.”

Ingram, who is a physiotherapist and master’s student in kinesiology, and some others are trying to start a Concrete Roots Productions in St. John’s, something he and other b-boys started in Halifax as a dance program that is now in more than 20 schools.

Here in St. John's, the group has partnered with School Sports NL to start a dance program called Street Movement. Getting youth involved is very important to Ingram.

“It's another option for activity as well as creativity for kids. This dance appeals to kids who otherwise may not be interested in traditional team sports that are typically emphasized in our education system. The creative aspect is also very important, as the dancers get to create their own style and individualize their dance, while still being part of a community. I can't think of many other activities that have both those qualities.”

To see Ingram in action, visit



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