Feature: Alien Ness - living the history of hip hop

Tuesday 31 May 2011

Alien Ness *B-Boy Alien Ness (Luis Roberto Martinez Jr), is a third generation b-boy (breakdancer) from the Bronx, New York, known for his old school approach to dancing and his knowledge of the early styles of hip hop dance. He has performed with some of the most important crews in the evolution of b-boying, including Rock Steady Crew and New York City Breakers. *

**Along with his partner Trac 2, he is coming to London to take part in “Breakin’ Convention’s Pioneers Week (Mon 6 – Sat 11 June)”: to share his knowledge of the history and culture of breaking, while preserving the original Bronx style of dance associated with the early, regional styles of breaking.

Alien Ness was given the nickname “Kid Ness” by Mr Ness of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the hip hop group behind the influential song The Message and was later renamed Alien Ness by Afrika Bambaataa, regarded by many breakers as the godfather of hip hop culture and founder of the Universal Zulu Nation. Alien Ness is now president of the Mighty Zulu Kingz, a division of the Universal Zulu Nation – a worldwide hip hop organisation recruiting the best dancers, DJs, MCs, producers and promoters.

Why is a course like Breakin’ Convention Pioneers so important for hip hop dancers? **It gives them an opportunity to not only learn the dance the way it was intended to be done, but also gives students a first hand access to pioneers of different dance genres.

Who should come to the Pioneers course? **Everyone and anyone who is interested in the true essence of any of the street dances – and specifically other dance instructors.

Why did you want to teach on the Pioneers course? **It gives me the opportunity to expose Trac2 to the masses and be able to teach the true essence of the “Bronx style.”

How important is sharing and documenting the culture of the hip hop dance forms? **It’s important to document everything…. you can never understand what a dance is all about or trying to convey if you don’t know where it stemmed from. If we – the people who lived, watched and experienced the growth first hand – don’t care enough to tell the story, then no one will.

How will the panel discussion help with this? **Aside from all the information these incredible instructors will be giving, it gives the students the opportunity to dig further and ask the questions that are important to them. In some instances, the Q&A portions of my workshops are praised by my students more than the workshop itself because it allowed them to get exactly what they want out of the time.

What makes this course different to others? **You’re getting the information straight from the source. It doesn’t get realer than that.

The week culminates in a social dance party – do you think this aspect of hip hop has been lost? **Very much. It’s the reason why the skill level of breakers is high, but their all around skill level of dance is low.

Any final words/shout outs? **I would like to give a should out to Breakin’ Convention and my brother Peter Maniam [Breakin’ Convention Projects Manager] for blessing me with the opportunity and honour to teach alongside my mentor [Trac 2] once again, as well as some of my personal idols, Suga Pop and Poppin’ Pete.

For more on the Breakin’ Convention Pioneers – a week of masterclasses, panels and parties with Alien Ness, Trac2, Popin’ Pete, Suga Pop & Shannon – and how to take part – go to: **”www.breakinconvention.com“:http://www.breakinconvention.com/participate

Alien Ness talks about the importance of documenting hip hop

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