By Lois Elfman
Last Saturday, break dancers from around New York and beyond came together at Bronxlandia to compete in the Red Bull BC One Bronx Cypher. A cypher is a gathering of people dancing or making music together, often with spectators present. Red Bull BC One is one of the biggest break dancing competitions with thousands of people vying for spots in the World Final.
One of the participants in Saturday’s event was Bronx native Eliazer “Damien” Chapman, a professional break dancer/b boy who has been breaking most of his life. As a kid, he and his family spent several years living in a shelter. Dancing was his outlet, and eventually he made enough money as a street performer to get his family to a better place.
“It was great for this event to be in the Bronx,” said Chapman, 25. “There was a lot of energy. A lot of people came out. It was a great turnout. I was cheering on everybody.”
Break dancing will be a competitive event at the 2024 Olympics, and Chapman said the athletic aspect of it keeps him inspired. He also loves this style of dance, with its inventive and dramatic movement. “We came from nothing, so we had to create,” he said. “I love that it brought me around the world and changed my life. I can’t really repay hip hop. That’s the way it repaid me.”
Chapman has won awards and appeared on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” earning praise from the judges. He works with a group called Acrobat All-Stars. Despite his busy schedule, he was happy to return to the Bronx and represent. Winning the World Final has been a long-time dream of his and Saturday’s event was very satisfying.
“I wanted to go and be around the people I grew up with,” Chapman said. “It was great to be around everybody and represent.”
He has worked with Missy Elliott and Lady Gaga, but still has a love for street performing. “I’m big on never forgetting where you come from. The inspiration and motivation that we give to the kids,” said Chapman, who has four battles (competitions) in July. “Dancing is how I fuel my life. I street perform and I do gigs. I perform all over America.”
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