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INTERVIEW: Bboy Blond, break dancer, part 2

Last week we shared part one of our interview with break dancer Youngkwang Joung, better known as Bboy Blond. If you missed out, you can find part one here. If you’re ahead of the game, here’s part two of our interview, we cover a stint in the army, power moves, memorable battles and the future!

Youngkwang Joung aka Bboy Blond

Youngkwang Joung aka Bboy Blond

As a Korean-born male, you were required to serve in the army. What were your thoughts when it was your time to serve?
When I went into the army, I was thinking – it’s time to stop dancing. Before me, everyone who went to the army would just stop dancing completely. It’s compulsory to serve in Korea, so when it was my time, I thought that it was my time to quit dance, too. After one year I realised there was no life without dance. So when the army gave us holiday break, I practised a little. It was only maybe twice in two months — which made it very hard — but I kept practising.

You’re a pioneer for ‘power moves’. How do you develop a new move?
It’s complicated. Sometimes new moves evolve from an accident, sometimes you just take a basic move and add your own personality to it, or sometimes inspiration comes from others’ suggestions. In the early days I wanted to shock people with moves, that’s all I was thinking. So when I competed I would keep the move a secret during warm up and then, in the battle, I would let the move loose and people never saw it coming! I feel differently about it now — I like to practice and focus on the music and let them come naturally.

Kids always ask me how do I keep doing power. How do I keep my body going? Do I work out to be able to do it? Sure, I do some sit ups and push ups sometimes, but that’s just for fitness, you don’t need to do it just do more power. Practice more and study the moves you want. Think about how it works and the technique, or watch someone else. Maybe you can’t do it exactly the way you want because of your body type or level. But the best way to learn is practice.

It gets annoying when people ask what my secret is, there is no secret, I just practice. Practice more and study the moves you want to know. Think about how it works and the technique used. I’d also say it’s better to learn how to control your body first. I always get asked how to do airflares. Airflares are hard to learn! You’re basically in the air, no feet on the ground, jumping over from one hand to the other. It’s dangerous when you’re in mid air with no hands on the ground. If you don’t know how to control your body, anything can happen. It’s a move I’m known for, but I don’t teach it to people who don’t know basic moves or don’t know how to control their body. What’s the point in having one of the hardest moves if you can’t do anything with it or tie it together with the rest of your skills?

Bboy Blond at 'World Powermoves Series'

Bboy Blond at ‘World Powermoves Series’

You mentioned your style changing from power moves to more freestyle dancing. What motivated this?
I was never pure power, even before the army. People would always see a battle with power moves but they never saw how I would train. I would practice footwork and freezes too, but I would never use any of those moves in a battle because I mostly danced with my crew where we each showed our strongest moves. It just turned out that they were better at footwork and freezes, and I was stronger with power moves. That’s why most people think I’m just a power-move guy.

Since I moved to Australia I’ve tried to enjoy my dancing even more, which has naturally changed my style. Back in the day, all I would care about is winning a battle, now I’m more focused on enjoying a battle. I still want to win, but I do whatever I’m feeling not just my best moves.

How did it feel winning Battle of the Year 2007 with Extreme Crew?
It was awesome! When we got onto that stage and we saw the audience, we thought it was crazy.  I was so impressed that there were so many people there to watch bboys, it was unbelievable. We were just happy to be there, to be at such a big event. After we made it into the final four crews all we could think was, ‘This is real, we have to kill it! We have to smash it!’ And when they announced the winner and it was us, we went crazy.

Extreme Crew at Battle Of The Year 2007

Extreme Crew at Battle Of The Year 2007

After a long career in dance, do you still get nervous?
I get nervous every time. Even if it’s a small battle, I’m still nervous. I don’t know why. My heart beats faster all the time and I have to tell it to relax! My heart never understands.

Dancing is still exciting and I’m happy that even though I haven’t competed in big international competitions for a while, people still know who I am and still like me.

What’s your most memorable battle and why?
I have two favourites. My first was in Osaka, Japan in 2002. It was first time we had been to an international battle. It was a whole new feeling being in a different country to dance. The other one was definitely Battle Of The Year 2007. It makes me happy thinking about it because it was probably the biggest competition we had ever won.

What’s your favourite country that you’ve been to for dancing?
I can’t pick just one, but I like going to Europe. When I go there to dance, there’s so many bboys from so many different countries. When I go to a competition in Australia, it’s mostly Australians, when I go to Korea, its mostly Koreans, but in Europe, there’s so many different people from so many different countries. I like going to Korea too, it’s so competitive there, and there are so many good bboys and and so many crews there. They have Drifters, Last For One, Maximum, Gambler, Jinjo, Rivers, my crew Extreme, Fusion MC. And even then, some of them make united crews. It’s hard to compete there when so many crews are really good.

Going to India was crazy. I felt like a superstar. They’ve had a few dancers there before but they were just there to do shows with no one-on-one time. When I visited, I was doing workshops and teaching dance which no one had experienced before. I travel less now, but since I moved to Australia my English has improved, and that helps a lot when you travel. So now I can enjoy a trip 10 times more because I can actually speak to more people now.

Youngkwang Joung aka Bboy Blond

Youngkwang Joung aka Bboy Blond

What’s the next competition you’d like to take part in? 
I’d like to go to a lot of the big-name competitions, UK Championships, Battle of the Year, Red Bull BC One. I don’t want to win, it’s not about that. I just want to see more bboys and new bboys. I don’t think I could go unless I could compete. To compete in most of these big competitions you need to be invited, and it’s hard being here sometimes, because now I’m representing Australia, but everyone knows I’m originally from Korea. I sometimes think if I was born here I might have had a better chance to compete in bigger competitions.

What’s it like being married while dancing around the world?
It’s hard because I travel a lot without my wife and I always have to leave her. She supports me a lot and she actually wants me to go see new countries and travel if the opportunity comes up. She’s a cool girl, she’s one of the reasons why I moved to Australia. She has seen everything I do, so she always asks why I don’t get invited to the big international competitions and events, because I’m always doing my best and pushing to be a better dancer. But they don’t want to invite me because I live in Australia now. I’ve spoken to a lot of organisers, and to bring someone out from Australia is really expensive. For the price of one Australian bboy, you can get two Korean bboys. It upsets her. She’s just looking out for the best things for me, I definitely know I married the right person.

What keeps you pushing to be a better dancer?
The scene inspires me to become better. In the early days, I was known for power moves and it feels weird that after 15 years I can still win a power-move competition. I’m really proud of myself, sometimes I don’t know how I do it. People always say I need to prepare for later in life when I’m ‘too old’ to do power moves, when I can no longer do flips and airflares. I hate when people say that. I’m doing what I like and if I can still do it – I’m going to do it. If my body decides it can’t cope with it when I’m older, I’ll do something else!

Bboy Blond by Mary Kwizness

Bboy Blond by Mary Kwizness

Who are your inspirations?
Back in the day, I was inspired by the first Korean bboys, such as Sung Hoon as well as American Bboys, like Remind and Super Dave. Today, even the new generation inspires me – they have crazy power!

What does it mean to you to be a bboy?
I don’t want to say it’s everything, because I can live without it, I just don’t want to. I know a lot of people say it should be everything and you should live every day as a bboy, but there are also other things I want to do and want to see in life. It does mean a lot to me. If I didn’t start dancing I wouldn’t be where I am today, I wouldn’t have been to a lot of the places and countries I’ve been to and I wouldn’t have met all of the inspiring people I have and who are still some of my best friends today. I don’t want to ever say that I’m not a bboy. If I could, I would dance for the rest of my life but, if I had to stop one day, I would move on. It’s been the main focus of my life since I was 14.

What would you do if you weren’t dancing?
I think I would be a totally different person. I have no idea what I would be doing, and even now I wonder what I would do if I suddenly had to stop dancing. I know I’d like to study, but I’m not sure what. I’ve tried to think about what I would do if I were to stop dancing, but every time I do, I get distracted and start thinking about bboying again!

Bboy Blond by Mary Kwizness

Bboy Blond by Mary Kwizness

What advice do you have for the new generation?
Enjoy dancing. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much when I was young like I do now because I was so focused on winning battles and competitions. If you win with that mind, you’re happy, if you lose, you’re sad. That’s all I would think of when I was young. But now I think that’s not important. Whether you win or lose, you’re still dancing which is the best part of all. Just have fun, respect all the bboys, too.

I get hundreds of requests and videos from younger dancers asking me to teach them. I like to teach and train people in person, face to face. I need to be able to see you dance, how your body works and not just one move. I feel bad sometimes because people expect me to have instructions on exactly how to do a move but they don’t realise it’s not like a recipe where you follow the exact same steps or methods as the next person.

Do you plan to stay in Australia?
For at least 3-4 years we will be here. My wife is currently studying at university so we’re going to stay and see what happens after she finishes. When I was travelling in Europe, I kept wondering what it would be like if I had moved to the UK instead. So that might be an option down the track.

 
Check out the latest clip of Bboy Blond showcasing his different styles in the clip below.

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INTERVIEW: Bboy Blond, break dancer, part 1

Don’t say we can’t keep a promise! You may have seen out interview preview with Bboy Blond here on Ed and Ruby TV, where we notified you that a very exciting (extended version) was on its way. Well, it has arrived! Below is part one of our chat with the world-renowned dancer. We had such an amazing time getting to know Blond, we’ve had to break our interview up into two parts, so stay tuned over the weekend for more great reads!

Interview: Bboy Blond, break dancer, part 1

Youngkwang Joung aka Bboy Blond

Youngkwang Joung aka Bboy Blond

In the world of dance, ‘Bboy Blond’ is synonymous with explosive breaking moves. The 29-year old Korean break dancer has mastered the art of ‘power moves’ over his 15-year career while he – as he describes it – is simply doing what he loves. Famous for his strength, it’s easier to list the countries Youngkwang Joung hasn’t showcased his dance talents to admiring fans in, rather than detail out the destinations he has!

Together with his bboy group, Extreme Crew, Blond cemented his name into bboy history in 2007 by winning Battle Of The Year; one of the world’s longest running and biggest break dance events, with Extreme.

In recent years, Bboy Blond has moved from Korea to start a new life in Sydney, Australia and it’s here we had the privilege of discovering more about the dancer, including his thoughts on the Australian dance scene, his big move to Australia, and the inside story to his ever-evolving career and personal life.

Originally from Korea, you’ve been in Australia for almost three years now. How are you finding it?
I really like this country, it’s much more relaxed, but the bboy scene is much smaller than what I’m used to back home.

What spurred your move to Australia?
My wife and I just got married and we were looking to start a new life and meet new people together. We wanted a new lifestyle and, at the same time, I could feel my body was tired from dancing, so we thought it was a good time for the new challenge and scene.

I was scared and nervous to move to Australia, but also very excited. I’ve travelled before but never moved countries, and I couldn’t speak English very well so everything was going to be new! I knew no one here, so I was a little scared.

Why did you start bboying?
It was my brother who started dancing first. Being the younger brother, I was always following in his footsteps asking him, “Where you going? What are you doing?”, all the time. Once I followed him to practice and he was doing some waving and freezes, so I tried it and it was fun!

When did dance transition from a fun pastime to professional activity?
I’d never been serious about anything before I started dancing. In the beginning, it was a challenge, but once I tried some new freezes and some power moves, it was like I was in a whole different world! It made me happy every time I learned new moves which made me take it more seriously.

Bboy Blond by Mary Kwizness

How did you get the name Bboy Blond?
When I was young I dyed my hair blonde for fun. All my friends were saying it suited me, so I kept doing it. At a competition one day everyone kept asking who the ‘blonde’ guy was. When I first started dancing, no bboys in Korea had a dance nickname, we just called each other by our real names, when  I came back from the army, everyone all of a sudden  had a bboy name! So my friend Baek told me I should be Bboy Blond, and it stuck. I’m not sure I like the name. At the time I couldn’t speak English and I didn’t think of what the word ‘blonde’ could mean to someone from a different country. When most people think ‘blonde’, they think of a blonde-haired beach girl, not a Korean man!

Tell us about joining Extreme Crew, your first crew and one of the world’s biggest.
I first started dancing with my friends Bboy Blue and Hoti while we were living in Busan City. There wasn’t any real Bboy crews in Busan at that time, there were a few hip hop dancers, but not a bboy team. At one point, other bboys in Busan City tried to organise a big crew of united dancers. At first they scouted Blue and Hoti who I was with, they soon realised I didn’t have my own crew so they said we could all join together. I wasn’t really that good at the time though.

What was it like to be a part of Extreme Crew?
That’s hard to answer because I’ve only ever know two crews, Extreme and SKB. I don’t really know how other crews train and work together. I do know that for both crews it was never ‘work’, just friendship – we’re all family.

In the beginning we had some problems in Extreme as everyone wanted different things from the group. But as we spent more time together, we understood each other more. We knew what everyone was thinking, or what they were going to say. We had to learn to work together to make things easier. You have to learn to understand your crew when you spend so much time together.

Bboy Blond by Mary Kwizness

How much did they help you become the bboy you are?
A lot! Having a crew to help you out is everything. If Extreme weren’t there for me, I wouldn’t have continued dancing after my time in the army, where I hadn’t been able to practice for two years, and had lost most of my dance skills. They said “You are Blond, you are my crew, just come back and enjoy dancing, you have to join us.”

What did Extreme Crew think of your plans to move to Australia?
Extreme is like a family, I spent half of my life with them and they understand why I moved to Australia. In the beginning they weren’t sure. “Why would you move there?” they asked, “There’s no crew there, we are here, why are you going there?” I still talk to them a lot and we still catch up on dancing. They’re happy and I’m really happy, too.

You’ve joined SKB crew since moving to Australia. Did this create conflict with Extreme?
Not at all. Originally I wasn’t thinking of joining or finding a new crew, but SKB reminded me a lot of Extreme. We’re all good friends and look out for each other.

Bboy Blond with SKB

How many hours a day do you train? How has this changed since you moved to Australia?
There’s been a big difference in my training since moving. When I was young and in high school, I was training all day. When I woke up, I would go to the studio and practice with others, heading home around 10pm. Since finishing studying, and spending time in the army, I’m noticing that I’m getting older because my body is feeling older when I train. I still pushed hard though, doing approximately four hours a day with one day off a week. Since moving to Australia I’m training two or three hours a day, four days a week. I try to practice as much as I can whenever I have time, I have to train harder with the time that I have here.

What do you think of the Australian dance scene?
Honestly, in the beginning, I was disappointed because the scene was very small. There were no big ‘jams’ and the bboys didn’t train very hard, they would just sit down and think most of the time. I would say “What are you doing? You don’t come here to think, you have to practice!” They’re starting to get there now, they train a lot more and a lot harder, and there are more ‘jams’ and competitions coming up.

A lot of the dancers and bboys here have the wrong idea. They blame the small scene on there not being enough sponsors or supporters. When we started in Korea, we had no sponsors or supporters either. Once we were at a really good level, we got more sponsors because they couldn’t believe what we could do.

Youngkwang Joung aka Bboy Blond

Is this the same for the world scene?
There’s a big difference now. When I started bboying, there wasn’t anything like YouTube which has made a big difference! Back then we had the internet, but not many videos, so it was hard to see what the rest of the world was doing at the time. I remember when I started to practice hopping air flares and I watched a Freestyle Session video with Bboy Ruen, I had never seen him before and I was in shock. This guy was doing the same thing I was! These days, you can watch anything on YouTube and see what this guy or that guy is doing all over the world – it’s easy to get inspired.

What do you think of dancers pushing to get sponsorships and trying to make a life of dancing?
You can find so many good dancers and bboys online. If these sponsors look at them, and then look at you – why would they sponsor you if you’re not at the highest level? Why would they give you money, or products, or clothes when they could give that to someone who can represent them better? Don’t blame sponsors for not supporting you if you won’t improve yourself first. Some seem to think if they got a sponsor they would automatically improve. Red Bull sponsors an ‘All-Stars’ team and you can see why – they’re amazing! A lot of dancers think they’re bigger than what they are.

It’s harder in Australia because we’re not so well known here, but it doesn’t mean you can’t work on your name and image here. Sure it would be good if you can go and represent internationally, but if you can’t because of money or some other reason, then work on your name in your home country. If you’re out there winning every competition, people will know you. I haven’t seen someone like Bboy Rush dance, but he has made his name big here that even I know him.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Bboy Blond, like us on Facebook so you don’t miss out! We chat with Blond on his time in the army, how he developes new moves, his advice to the younger generation of dancers and even marriage! But for now, enjoy a video showcasing Bboy Blond from our good friend, Frace Luke Mercado.

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INTERVIEW – preview: Bboy Blond

As a bboy supporter, chatting with award-winning dancer Bboy Blond is a true highlight that brings intriguing discoveries and plenty of laughs.

With his original crew (Extreme Crew) he won the 2007 Battle of the Year and has since continued to impress the scene; recently taking out the 7 to Smoke battle at IBE held in Heerlen, Netherlands.

In this interview teaser, Bboy Blond tells us about his big move to Australia from Korea, Extreme Crew and SKB, his thoughts on the new generation of dancers and more. Full interview coming soon but, for now, enjoy the preview.

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