Light And Darkness, Dancing

An interview with B-Boy Blakk

I had heard about Ed Johnson, known in the world of break dancing as B-Boy Blakk, countless times before meeting him: he’s a member of the world-famous break-dance crew Renegade Rockers, and founded a crew called Cloud 9 Tribe that was recently inducted into the Universal Zulu Nation. Only two days after meeting Blakk in person, we were on a plane to Zanzibar; a mutual friend who coordinates an annual trip to the island to provide a capoeira group with formal training had invited Blakk to teach. I was there to photograph the trip.

At age thirty, Blakk is one of the oldest active B-boys in the world. Most B-boys and B-girls stop breaking in their late teens or early twenties, due partly to the physically taxing nature of the dance. That phenomenon, along with his passion for working with youth in the Bay Area, has driven Blakk to try and understand break dancing from a kinesthetic point of view. We met for this conversation several months after our return home.

—Giovan Alonzi

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THE BELIEVER: Do you think studying the mechanics of break-dance moves is the same as this whole study of the body in general?

B-BOY BLAKK: Yeah. When you get down to the basic stuff, doing movement, you start thinking about your body and you start to care for it and learn about it. It can cure all these different vices we have. Child obesity, that’s a huge thing in America. If you don’t learn about your body, how are you going to take care of it? Break-dancers have a reputation of not taking care of their bodies, because we’re banging around, jumping around, landing on our backs. I’m trying to help people think about the best way to go into a move and come out unscathed. That’s my ultimate goal. Because we’re trying to move our bodies in a way nobody ever thought about, but our body has limits and we have to learn to fit within the means of our body. Sometimes we can push those limits, but to know those limits is important.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Giovan Alonzi edits a wildly experimental interviews-in-collage project at moldious.com. He lives and works and plays drums and plays chess and plays in a band called Void Boys and plays backgammon in San Francisco.

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