Cultural Conversations: Expression through break-dancing

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 8:54 AM CST
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WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) - A group of Marathon County teenagers is spreading joy one cultural dance move at a time.

The group ‘Break United’ was formed by high schoolers in 2017 through the Boys & Girls Club of the Wausau Area afterschool program. After an almost two-year break due to COVID-19, the students are back on the dance floor.

“It mainly started with a homework project,” explained dance member Pa Ying Gia Thao.

The dancers say dancing to the beats of 90s hip-hop and rap is a form of expression.

“Hmong communities like to show off,” explained dance member Yee Zong Thao. “We also like to express who we are as a community and how we gather things with other people too.”

Break-dancing is a part of Hmong history. The style consists of acrobatic and elaborate dance moves to up-beat music. Dance member Yee Zong said he is a “powerhead.”

“Powerheads are the dancers that do explosive things,” Yee Zong explained. “Then there are people involved with footwork. That’s anything with complex footwork. The last person is a flex-head, anyone is very flexible.”

While break dancing is special to Hmong culture, the dancers say other cultures can express themselves in the same way.

“Anyone can enjoy dancing, even with different kinds of hobbies,” explained Pa Ying Gia. “With singing, they can do some movements that’s involved with singing or anything that expresses their hobbies or anything they’re interested in.”

The dancers say when dancing or in life, confidence is key.

“Anything is possible if you believe in yourself,” said dance member Sean Vang.

They are always looking for new members. Teens interested in joining Break United must be members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Wausau Area.

Club officials say there is a $20 membership fee, but there are scholarships available.

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