Break dancing is not lost in the '80s. Just ask Constant Mayhem, a b-boy crew from Calgary who advanced to the finals of the Ready or Not break dancing competition held on August, 24 at the Palace nightclub.
The three members of the Cowtown crew, Anthony Rebalbos, Chris Josue, and Jason Lepke have been rocking for years now. Of the three, Lepke, aka React, is the most experienced of the crew, going on four years of top-rocking and six-stepping. Chris and Anthony are in the midst of their third year, and their dedication to breaking is apparent just by speaking to them, and shows every time they battle for respect on the dance floor.
"Breaking is one of the toughest things to do," says Rebalbos, also known as b-boy Rein. "It involves a lot of strength, dedication, and practice."
Thus, being a b-boy is about expression while being able to impress and involves not only a passion for hip-hop, but hard work.
"I dance for myself, to enjoy myself and express my personality and creativity," explains Josue who has earned the stage name Crisis.
B-boys from Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and even Tacoma, Washington attended Ready or Not to win supremacy, respect, and a first place, winner-take-all $2,500 cash prize.
"The talent there was some of the best," explains Crisis. "Besides Lords of the Floor in Seattle and Freestyle Sessions in L.A., this was the best competition I have competed in."
Fifteen crews, composed of three dancers each, competed in Ready or Not.
However, convincing sponsors and attracting venues to host any hip-hop event in Calgary is not easily achieved, because of the stereotypes and stigmas attached to the hip-hop scene.
"Hip-hop is still very undersized and misunderstood in Calgary," explains Crisis. "It's not just about music, it's about a culture; a way of life which needs to be supported in order to grow and be accepted here."
Ryan Josue, Chief organizer of Ready or Not, and coincidentally cousin to Crisis explains that, "it's tough to get venues to accept a hip-hop show in Calgary because of the stereotypes attached to hip-hop. But at Ready or Not, the breakers proved that there is a positive side to hip-hop that can be admired and enjoyed by all."
This is certainly true as 800 people attended the competition, all helping create a charged atmosphere full of cheers and encouragement for the breakers. As well, because of the thorough efforts of Josue, the breakers were able to concentrate on their moves as they were easily registered and made aware of the rules and judging.
From the start of the competition, it was clear that Constant Mayhem were a crew to be respected and hard to defeat. When asked about the level of competition in Calgary, React responded by saying, "As far as competition goes in Calgary, we are the competition."
As the event continued, the level of competition and difficulty intensified as the dancers were forced to take risks and execute gymnast-like moves requiring stamina, strength, and balance. Constant Mayhem does this well and because of this, they found themselves being favoured by the crowd in an electrified and transformed Palace nightclub.
"I knew we would be in the finals," recalls a confident Lepke.
"We were prepared and this took away any nerves that we could have had to cause us to be outdone," adds the charismatic Crisis.
But while the hometown crew was head spinning their way past their competitors, the Washington based crew named Dance Broomz were sweeping away their opposition as well.
"We knew that Dance Broomz would be there waiting for us," recalls Crisis. "They were on point that night and though we wanted to win, we had already accomplished our goal to make it past the semis. At that point, we were there to just have fun and freestyle a little."
Unfortunately, Constant Mayhem found themselves faced up against an equally stylish, organized, and talented Dance Broomz. In the end, it seemed like the Dance Broomz were more ready than not, but despite this loss, support remains with the Constant Mayhem crew.
"A second place finish in perhaps the biggest breaking competition in Canada shows that Constant Mayhem work hard, and letting these guys showcase their talents was the whole purpose of this event," asserts Ryan Josue. "The event was a success and demonstrated that hip-hop is growing here in Calgary. Moreover, successful events like Ready or Not allow for other hip-hop shows to be less scrutinized and accepted in the coming future."
As for Constant Mayhem, Crisis explains it best when he says, "I want to pass on what I have learned so that others can have as much fun as I've had dancing. We have fun when we dance, and that's what all of it, the practicing, the show, and the competition, was about for us."