Boreal bboys

The Yukon is better known for its brown bears than its bboys, but that's starting to change. Last month, the Breakdance Yukon Society brought kids from across the country and bboy crews from across North America for a weekend of workshops and competitions in Whitehorse.

The Yukon is better known for its brown bears than its bboys, but that’s starting to change.

Last month, the Breakdance Yukon Society brought kids from across the country and bboy crews from across North America for a weekend of workshops and competitions in Whitehorse.

The Yukon’s own bboy crew, Groundwork Sessions, took home the championship medal at the Yukon Energy Klondike Heat battle.

It was an especially sweet victory for the six-man crew.

In the championship round they faced a rematch against Toronto’s Ground Illusionz.

Three years ago, Groundwork Sessions lost to them in their very first competition.

This time, it was a different story.

“It felt pretty good,” said Ben Robinson, 18, a member of Groundwork Sessions, who also helped co-ordinate the weekend’s events, Cypher Fest, Walmart Cypher for Change youth forum and Yukon Energy Klondike Heat battle.

Co-ordinating the forum and festival while competing in the battles was “a bit intense,” said Robinson.

“I was running off four hours of sleep every night, but I still managed to compete and do decent,” he said. “I don’t know how.”

While the Yukon Energy Klondike Heat and Walmart Cypher for Change are in their third and second year respectively, it was the first year for the festival.

“It’s definitely making a splash,” said Robinson. “We’ve gotten tons of emails of bboy crews that want to put shows together and come up next year to be in the festival.”

The Breakdancing Yukon Society is hoping to build on the success of this first year to grow the event, said Andrea Simpson-Fowler the society’s artistic director.

“I think the general response from across the country was huge,” she said. “They are already planning events, some of them are starting to teach classes and thinking about how they’re going to fundraise to come back next year.”

Staging the festival and the youth forum is about more than just promoting the art.

“The whole idea was to inspire them to build community and to use bboying to make positive change in their communities,” said Simpson-Fowler.

“When you care about your community, you want to teach youth how to be good citizens and, for me, bboying is one of the ways to teach them how to be good citizens,”

“You can draw all kinds of parallels to basic life skills.”

Her son Riley is also a member of Groundwork Sessions, but she helped support the entire group through Leaping Feats, her dance studio.

“They’ve all worked here either through the summer camps, or teaching or in the office,” she said.

Each member also has a key to the studio.

For Robinson and the rest of the Groundwork Sessions crew, the dream is to build a career out of bboying.

“Most crews can’t manage to do that, especially when they get around our age – most people start wanting to go do their own thing,” said Robinson. “One of the strengths we have right now is that we’re all together so we’re trying to take advantage of that and make the most of it while we can.”

In the next six months Groundwork Sessions will travel to Holland, Orlando and San Francisco for some competitions.

They’ve been applying for grants, and will hold fundraising parties in September and October to pay for it.

“Right now we’re just trying to work, save up and live really cheaply for the most part,” said Robinson. “I might have to get another job so I can afford to do all this.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read