Inspired by hip-hop films and previous writings Wild Style and Breakin ‘N’ Enterin’, Beat Street has offered to get away from its hometown of the Bronx with the help of East Coast pioneers. Released at a similar time, Breakin’ contained an astounding list of West Coast icons who would attain cult status and go on to educate the young, down-to-earth Michael Jackson, best known as Moonwalk.
As the summer drew to a close, both films earned millions of fans and dollars — even Breakin’ landed in the top 20 highest-grossing films of 1984. Collectively they introduced breakout culture to audiences and inspired legions of dancers to begin to unravel.
Breaking has also appeared in cult music videos such as Chaka Khan’s I Feel for You, Step Into the World by KRS One, DMC’s iconic Run Its Like That, and has sparked several television dance competitions.
Most of all, it has led to Cutters becoming some of the most respected choreographers in the industry and established actors who have truly earned high levels of fame both on and off screen.
Success on the small and big screen
Roxy made history in 2018 by representing the United Kingdom at the inaugural Red Bull BC One B-Girl World Championship. She holds two Guinness World Records and hopes to represent her country in the biggest sporting event ever when Break debuted at the 2024 Games in Paris.
The second season of Break’n Reality
Meet the B-Boys and B-Girl who will be in the spotlight in Season 2 of Break’n Reality.
The first B-boy to win the Red Bull BC One title twice, Lilo appeared in StreetDance 2, the documentary Turn It Loose – filmed at the 2007 Red Bull BC One World Final in South Africa. Join Madonna’s MDNA 2012 tour as a dancer, choreographer and have his own video game character in B-Boy the Game.
We interviewed all four cutters to find out how they transitioned to performing on the small and big screen and to gain some insight into the reality of the entertainment business.
When was the first time you saw a crack on the screen?
I saw a fracture for the first time on YouTube. I watched Junior’s clips, and he’s my all-time favorite Bee Boy. But then, whenever I saw a breakout on TV, it looked so sloppy, and I laughed at the dancers because I knew they weren’t real breakers. In the end, I saw Breakin’, and it was obviously very different from the things I was exposed to on naughties TV. The quality was incredible by comparison.
When I was twelve years old, I was fascinated by the TV cutters spinning on their heads. It was totally crazy, and I wanted to do it.
I started breaking out of hip-hop culture and fell in love with it in 2000 when I was 13 after watching VHS tapes of popular wild events: B-Boy Summit in the USA and Battle of the Year (Breaking’s longest-running event).
Take a tour of Paris with Junior
Get a unique tour of Paris, France, with B-Boy Junior as your guide.
Have you shown your smashing skills on TV or in the movie?
I’ve performed in front of the Queen at Royal Variety, on screen at the Beijing Olympics, in several music videos and been in the movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. I’ve done a lot of TV work and music videos as a breakout tool, but not so much – if that makes sense. In the end, most of my roles turned out to be an all-around dancer rather than a B-Girl, so I think the break could still be more respectful, better acting, and more visible on screen.
I did a few films in Brazil as an actor and underwent a few films in New York. I played some parts in City of God.
Is there an on-screen performance that people might not know about?
I’ve made a few music videos with smaller artists, but when I was called to do a video with The Chemical Brothers, I felt, “Cool.” When I saw what the script would be for the video, I knew it was going to be huge on TV. But the only thing is that I had to wear a mask and you can’t see my face! The three of us played different roles, so I decided to pick Dottie’s signature moves in the end, like the way I turn my knee so everyone will recognize those moves as mine, even with a mask on. As soon as I fell, people were calling me right away in the middle of the night, saying, “Man, I saw you in the Chemical Brothers video of Midnight Madness.”
How hard was it when you first started trying to get a job in Hollywood?
Maybe it was luck or just good timing, but I got to work right away. During the first two auditions, no one knew who I was, but over time the choreographers started getting to know me and my style, and things started to happen.
How did your life as a B-boy influence your pursuit of a career in Hollywood? Was there ever a time you were worried about being called an all-out sale?
I remember there were times when I was offered a big job, and it was the same weekend where it was a big fight. In the beginning, I would always take the fight, as it was very important to me to stay relevant and true to the Bee-Boy scene. My worst fear was looking like a sell-out and a fall off the battlefield because of Hollywood. At that point, many of the B-boys who had moved to Hollywood had faded from fighting, but I think I did a pretty good job of maintaining both for many years.
There are some publications that might say that breaking into movies leads to a sale or that being in videos with an artist like Madonna is not in keeping with hip-hop culture and breakup, but that’s just ignorance. As a B-Boy in a movie, you are asked to do moves and flips or tricks over and over because they know what you can do. I’ve been asked to do a lot of stunts, and I never feel like that kind of dressed up or sold out. I’m with a lot of things. I like to take the many opportunities that come my way. I always like to challenge myself. Honestly, I would like to play more action-based roles in films, if at all.
What are your most important onscreen moments?
Breaking Madonna’s 10-month MDNA tour was insane, and I learned a lot of things, but performing with her live on TV at the Super Bowl was insane! It was my first time doing a live show, and it was my first time doing a live show with her. We jumped on stage together, the cameras turned on. I always try not to have a big head and play things up, so when I got the call, it was like, “Wow, OK, I’m going to dance at the Super Bowl.” I didn’t understand the scale of what I was doing or the scale of the event and showing it until I was on stage. My colleagues were telling me how many millions of people were watching, and it was really, really cold when it finally sank!
How would you adapt your break to a large scale and to large audiences? What are the challenges?
The main adaptation for me is making everything bigger and directing all my movements to the camera. The biggest challenge to break and dance in movies is avoiding injuries. There are long days, which means lots of cold and then warm up and then cold again.
I’ve always been able to perform in different ways and means because of capoeira. Since the age of three, capoeira has taught me complex ways to battle, but most of all, she has taught me how to perform, play for audiences, and perform. When it comes to where I’ve earned my confidence as an actor, I’d say this is a mix of crushing arts and martial arts. Jiu-Jitsu taught me to keep my head up and make eye contact. The refraction has given me personality and theatrical presence. Once you understand that, it makes the whole thing on camera easier, and there are a lot less challenges.
What do you enjoy most in movies, music, video and TV?
I like to break the screen because I do it over and over until I’m at my best, especially when I have control over what is displayed. This definitely helps me take advantage of my strengths. However, most of the time, it’s not up to me, and it’s always scary to know which shot will be used in the final cut of the movie.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned and what advice would you give your fellow sluts who want to turn their dance into a movie and a performance act?
The idea of faking it until you make it is huge. When they ask if you can choreograph, say of course. If they ask if you can model, say maybe. If they ask if you’ve ever acted, say sure. The more you say yes, the more you know yourself, and you can’t learn from saying no. There have been so many times that mental closure could ruin so many life-changing moments. Another valuable lesson I learned from the industry is being a good person. If you are a good person and act professionally, everyone will want to be around that energy. It is magnetic.