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Photo courtesy of 4SoulFilms

When most people hear of present-day break dancing, their first thought is, “People still do that?” But contrary to popular belief, break dancing, or “b-boying,” is alive and well–especially on the streets of Long Beach.

B-boying became a worldwide phenomenon in the 1980s as teens across the country displayed their best moves in the streets. The dance movement gained further popularity after successful films like Breakin’, released in 1984. The media continues to depict inner-city B-boy culture over twenty years later, with films like Step Up and You Got Served. However, many current B-boys disagree with the media’s depiction of the dance, seeing it as unauthentic.

“I remember seeing a commercial at Target where a guy was dancing, and even pictures of b-boying on billboards,” says James Oreste, a B-boy from Long Beach. “From one move to the next there is a progression, but (the media) would capture moves that real dancers don’t really care for. They show quick seconds of the dance on T.V. and in pictures, but they’re missing the whole artform. I feel it wasn’t properly represented.”

Oreste is one of many Long Beach B-boys carrying on the somewhat underground breakdance culture. He differentiates B-boying from other urban dancing, such as krumping and jerking, which are relatively newer forms.

“B-boying is [the first] of the original urban dances to come out of the US. It is the original hip hop dance. While people might call those other dances ‘street dance’ or ‘hiphop dance,’ those terms were originally made to describe our dance.”

Oreste became interested in the dance as a shy teenager, and he attributes dancing to breaking him (pun intended) out of his shell. “I feel dancing opened me up as a person, as far as connecting to other people”, he says. And whether it be hanging out with friends or traveling to see other B-boys perform, he realizes that there is a personal connection relayed in this artform. “I believe dance is just in you, that it’s a way for people to let go–that’s why our film is called Innate.”

As a result of his love for B-boying and opposition of it’s depiciton in the media, Oreste and a group of friends came up with Innate, an in-progress documentary which will show modern break dancing in its truest nature.

“I went to B-boy competions around the country from about 2001 to 2005, and I realized that there was a problem: the art wasn’t being expressed to a bigger society. I was already interested in filming,” he says.

While Oreste’s roots are in Long Beach, the film will feature B-boys from Long Beach to Pennsylvania, due to his nationwide network of B-boys based on past competions held in Long Beach, including one on the Westside at the Boys and Girls Club.

Using minimal dialogue and footage shot by Oreste, himself, Innate will show the public a side of breakdancing not seen in theaters, commercial, posters, etc. Oreste started a Kickstarter campaign for his project, and hopes that crowdfunding will be able to give them the rest of the money they need to finish the documentary. One of the team’s largest backers is University California Irvine, where Oreste and his team frequently hold dance classes.

Between March 8 and May 7, Oreste and his team set a goal of $5,000, which will be used for finishing production and final distribution. With two weeks to go, the project has currently raised more than $4,000 from over 100 backers.

When the film is finished, Oreste plans to showcase his film on a city-tour, which Long Beach as a definite stop. He hopes to have a showing at the Long Beach Art Theatre. In the meantime, more prospects are on the horizon.

“We have been approached by a lot of film festivals, even international ones, but the film is not complete yet, so it’s just a possibility,” he says. 

Oreste says he hope the reaction to the film “will open people’s eyes to B-boying; where they not only know the dancers, but the dance, itself–and learn that b-boying didn’t stop in the 80’s.”

More information on Oreste’s project can be found at the Kickstarter page.