HYDERABAD: In 2010, when YouTube was the only source of hip-hop learning in Hyderabad, dancer Ivan Iendl, along with his friends Arun Aloysius and Swapnil Ex-T, decided to attend a workshop in Chennai where they were are beaten with one of the strongest hip-hop teams in the capital of Tamil Nadu.
It was the trio’s first dance battle and they came back embarrassed. Thus, the dance battle culture was born in Hyderabad. Ivan and his friends formed a group called âThe Proximity Crewâ and started training to be the best street dancers in town. A year later, they signed up again for a battle in Chennai and reached the final!
âAt first it was very difficult to learn because there was no one in Hyderabad teaching the style. We used to travel to different cities to learn this form of dance. Slowly, along with a few other dancers, we built this community and started doing workshops, numbers and battles, âsays Ivan, who is also a hip-hop DJ.
He believes people should start training at a very young age in order to master the skills and perform longer. âDance, as an art, should be shared among young people so that they understand the dos and don’ts,â he says.
Varun Dhopeshwarkar, aka Dope V, choreographer, creative director and editor who is also one of the city’s premier hip-hop dancers, says there was hardly a dance battle scene in 2009 when ‘he had started to learn. âMy first battle took place in Bengaluru; it was an all-Indian championship that took place in 2012. Later I traveled to Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata to participate in several battles. I even attended workshops by international artists and continued to compete abroad, âhe says.
Another popular dancer, Harsha Maheshwari, aka Komet, has led workshops and jam sessions for the past 10 years and has successfully completed 10 releases at various venues such as The Heart Cup Coffee (Jubilee Hills and Gachibowli), Prism ( Financial District), HyLife (Jubilee Hills) and Tabula Rasa (Jubilee Hills). Founder of Cypher Hours, she invites faculties from different cities to lead workshops not only for the privileged, but also in NGOs. âA number is where people come together in a circle and experiment with their art. Workshops are organized to let go of your ego and learn as much as you can. This is how we grow and improve the culture, âshe says.
Ideally, the dance battles take place in hip-hop and the contestants dance in a particular style and are judged accordingly. But, Harsha has a different take on this. âI like to explore and learn; this led us to organize a belly dance fight during the Hyderabad dance festival in April.
Today’s budding dancers Akhil Mohan (the co-founder of AM2AM Dance Company) and Pranit Nair (a senior instructor at the Rhythmzz Academy of Dance) push the boundaries every day to popularize the culture. They attended and led workshops and figures for the young people to learn this form of dance.
âThe hip-hop scene in Hyderabad is awesome! We organize quality workshops and battles in different places for people to get a better idea of ââthis culture. After Covid, the scene got even better. It is surprising to see such massive participation. I can’t wait to train the next generation, âAkhil says.
Cypher vs. battle
A dance battle is a one-on-one fight between two individuals or teams, where the dancers must analyze the music played by the DJ, catch the beats, impress the judges and entertain the crowd. It’s all about multitasking. Where as a figure is a place to explore and display your talent. There are no judges and there is no winner.
- Popping: sudden tension and release of muscles to match the rhythm and beats of the music
- Locking: you freeze from the last movement and lock in a certain position
- Waacking: Created by LGBTQIA + clubs in Los Angeles, it has rational arm movements, poses and emphasizes expressions
- House: Danced to loud and heavy electronic dance music
- Breaking: Also called B-Boying or B-Girling, this is an athletic style of street dancing
- Krumping: Movements are sharp and strong
Places hosting battles / numbers
- Heart Cup Coffee, Jubilee Hills
- Tabula Rasa, Jubilee Hills
- Nritya-A Forum for the Performing Arts, Banjara Hills
- HyLife Brewing Company, Jubilee Hills
- Prism, financial district