It has become a tradition to write a recap post of all the dance-related things that happened at the end of the year. This will be my 3rd annual review. I feel blessed to have been able to accomplish so much over the past year and 2012 brings potential for many more opportunities, projects and goals. I can say in 2011, I “did all the things” I wanted to do!
Teaching played a big role throughout the year, not only in studios but eventually in school classrooms as the year progressed. However, in January I was an instructor at Studio Sweatshop for the Sweatfest promotion, teaching a 6 week locking program. Unfortunately, Studio Sweatshop closed down this year but I will always remember that it was the first dance studio I began teaching locking classes in back in 2007. Thank you to Jodee (Bgirl Fiesty) for the opportunity!
One of my favourite local events in Montreal is an annual bboy event called Braggin Rites. It is an event that is held at the YMCA downtown and always attracts a large crowd and allows for the younger generation bboys and bgirls to rep. Some really dope dancers today got their start at this battle. Shoutout to Caleb and the MTL Bboying crew for always coming correct with this event. Here is a semi-final battle between me and BBoy Kinx.
Winters are cold in Montreal and much of February was spent working and training. One highlight was I auditioned for Cirque Eloize, a circus performance group in Montreal somewhat similar to Cirque Du Soliel. It was a challenging audition and although I didn’t get hired with the company, it was a very good learning experience!
With the thawing of the winter snow, things began to heat up in March. First, a local Locking battle! Shut Up & Dance 3 was an event put on by Urban Element dance studio. There were 8 contestants picked for the 1on1 battle. Myself, Treklock and Boombeast judged. Leo & Michael came in from Toronto to compete but it was Quantalock who took the title in an intense final battle! Respect to everyone who supported the event.
The next day, I went on my 2nd trip with Blueprint For Life. This project was in Kuujjuaq in the Nunavik region at the very northern tip of Quebec. A small community of only 2100 people, the “social work through Hip Hop” we did with the young people certainly had a lasting impression on the young students as well as all the faculty that got to be part of this trip. Shouout to Buddha, Frost, Pam, Leftelep, Zig, Tommy Guns, Lazy Legz, Creeasian, Radio and Mike.
There isnt much to do at night in the Arctic so most of the nights were spent practicing with some of my favourite Canadian bboys. Check the compilation!!
Next stop: Waterloo, Ontario for Ground FX 8 – A bboy battle organized by the University of Waterloo. I was asked to teach a locking workshop (photo below) and judge the bboy battle. It was really nice to be back and see a lot of old friends from the TO bboy scene
As mentioned earlier, the transition from teaching in studios to the classroom progressed in March when I was hired at Place Cartier Adult Education Centre to teach a course entitled “Planet Earth”. Of course I began to use Hip Hop & Funk in my lesson plans and even set up a blog for students to read and respond during the course. You can check it out here:
Planet Earth Cartier Blog
For the first time, I visited Boston with the wonderful DJ Ruby Jane. We hung out with my good friend Shallow, an old school Boston popper, as well as DJ Saucy Lady and Yuki, two talented Boston funk lovers. Of course, we wrecked shop!
By far, one of the busiest months of the year! To start, after a good reception of teaching at Place Cartier I was asked to put together a 2-month curriculum for a Hip Hop & Funk course at the school. I called it “One Nation Under A Groove” and educated approximately 20 students all about Hip Hop culture. We explored Bboying, Locking, Popping, Graffiti Art, DJing, MCing and many other aspects of the culture. This course continued into June so you can see the end of term photo there.
The biggest event in Montreal for street dancers is Bust-A-Move. 2011 was the 8th edition of the event and the biggest one to date. The event week started off with a promotional battle within one of Montreal’s metro stations. Check out this exhibition battle between me and Treklock.
The BAM preparty is one of the highlights of the event. No footage or photos but if you come to BAM 9 in 2012, make sure you are here for the preparty!!!!
On the main event day dancers from Canada, Europe and the US came out for the various battles. Scoo-B-Doo was supposed to be the guest locking judge but a problem at the Canadian border prevented him from entering. The locking battle still took place. Inspired by Morris Day & The Time I entered on the “cool” tip! Check the semi-final battle between me, Firelock & Hurrikane below. Congrats to Firelock for winning BAM in the finals!
The following week my crew member and very close friend, Lazy Legz organized his annual No Limits event in Montreal. He brought out the entire Ill Abilities crew to perform, judge and teach. The event was really exciting and super inspirational, especially when Lazy introduced his student crew: JC Styles. I helped organize the IBE qualifier in association with the event and Bboy T-Jo won the IBE Montreal selection!
Check out the event review as well as one of the 2on2 battles: Renegades vs Illmask. Shoutout to my partner Bboy City!!!
There was literally an event every week during the month of May. Shoutout to Sweet Technique for organizing their event: Skillz-O-Meter the week following No Limits 2.
The last event in May was Can I Get A Soul Clap, a bboy crew battle organized by Studio Diss Torsion. Illmask repped in full force. Here is the semi-final battle between Illmask and Fresh Format/Sweet Technique. It was great repping with the whole crew and battling some of my favourite MTL bboys!
Summers in Montreal are my favourite. New restaurants open, patios allow for maximum chilling, festivals happen almost every week and funk jams abound! My Hip Hop education course at Place Cartier came to a close and was a huge success. The students learned a lot not only from me but from the various guests I had brought in including: Buddha, Lazy Legz and the Project Graffiti team in Lachine. The term ended with a small jam the students helped put together where they got to showcase to the rest of the school what they have learned. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for all the students who took part in the course!
During the Montreal Jazz Festival Illmask was asked to do a special battle against the Moon Runners crew in Toronto. It was not your typical battle. We actually battled the crew via a live feed hooked up between both cities!
It was announced rather quickly but Prince decided to play two special shows in Montreal during the Jazz Fest in a more intimate venue. I managed to get tickets for one of the shows (they sold out in an hour!) and got to see one of the most incredible shows ever. Prince played for 5 1/2 hours alongside one of the greatest horn players: Maceo Parker! Shoutout to Frank Boogie for making the trip to take in the show with me, my brother and Ruby Jane! Four days later Bootsy Collins came to town and brought with him some intergallactic planetary funk with the help of Bernie Worrell!
Note: it’s hard to find concert footage of Prince from that show. Here is a clip of a show he did in Dec 2011 also in Montreal, but at the less intimate Bell Centre
Halfway done! July started off with a locking workshop for Culture Shock in Ottawa. Shoutout to my Ottawa funk family! Always fun hanging out with you guys!
After endless events in the spring, me and Ruby Jane decided to organize a Soul Train themed party. No contests just a hardcore summertime get down! To our surprise the cast from Cirque Du Soliel were in town training for the Michael Jackson Immortal Tour and decided to stop by. With DJs: Ruby Jane, Frank BLVD, Zattar and Professor Groove playing music from the 70s, 80s and 90s along with Soul Train lines to accompany each era, this was one of the best parties I’ve ever helped throw! Shoutout to Klown and Salah for making it out!
Mid July I was invited to represent Blueprint For Life along with Buddha and his son Aaron, Dingo and Shatterstar at the Unity Retreat in Haliburton, Ontario. Many dancers, beatboxers, spoken word artists and graf writers from Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg all gathered under the direction of BBoy Piecez for a weekend retreat in the woods. There were campfires, late night swimming, star gazing and some hype dance sessions!
For the 7th consecutive year, I made a summertime visit to California. This time I visited San Francisco and Oakland to get some of that Bay Area funk! Checked out the GroovMekanex practice and got down with Chaz, JayPee, DocLock and many others! Shout out to the Bay Area lockers!
Next it was off to LA for the Generations workshop. This was a day-long workshop set up by Locking 4 Life and Lockerlegends and featured classes by lockers from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. The teaching team consisted of Fluky Luke, OG Skeet, Loose Caboose, Anthony Thomas, Tony Go Go, Gemini and Richie Rich. Many dancers came out including a Montreal squad!
The following day was On The One. A strictly funk styles event put on by Richie Rich. Many old school poppers and lockers came out and the battles were pretty intense. There was a popping 1on1, popping crew vs crew, a locking 1on1 and a Jack & Jill battle. It was nice to see so many lockers representing from all over the world! Japan, Cyprus, France, Canada, US, Phillipines and Ireland!
I made it to the semi finals in the locking battle and the finals in the Jack & Jill with Quantalock. Check out the battle semi-final between me and Funky J as well as the finals in the Jack & Jill!
Out of the whole weekend event, the best moment had to have been the night after On The One at Homeland. Locking was in full gear that night. Loose Caboose called me out in a friendly battle and right after a North America vs Europe battle took place. To say it was hype would be an understatement!
Group photo! Homeland is the spot to check out for good vibes on a Monday night! Make sure you hit up Carbon after for some club funk too!
Even though summer was ending, September was still a busy month. It started out with a trip to Toronto with Boombeast, Treklock and Soul Control for Funk Fo Yo Feet. The locking event was judged by Gemini and the final battle between me and Trek was a great exchange! It was a personal victory for me as I was in a bit of a slump and hadn’t won a battle in a while!
Right after FFYF we headed back to Montreal and took Gemini with us! We spent the week hanging out, getting down and chilling with the MTL fam. Thanks G for the good vibes!
The month ended with a locking workshop and judging a battle in Sherbrooke for the Funky Steps Anniversary. Right after this event it was off to Toronto for the ManifesTO. This was a week-long event showcasing Toronto’s vibrant Hip Hop scene. I participated in the Movement event in which I performed a short locking solo. Many dope dancers were in attendance including Mr Wiggles and Y-Not, who taught some amazing workshops on rockin, popping and party dances the following day. The main event day I taught a locking workshop outside at Yonge & Dundas square. There were Graf writers, intense cyphers and a concert by Rakim to finish off the festival. Hip Hop culture is alive and well in Canada that’s for sure!
A relatively quiet month although at the end of the month I headed out to Vancouver for the first time in 10 years for Last One Stands: Van city’s largest street dance event. Hanging with my MTL fam was a blast and getting down (as well as eating and drinking) with Sun, Neo, Trek, Boom, Atn, Jr Boogaloo, Fire and many others was a pleasure. Check the trailer from the event and make sure you’re there in 2012!
The past two Fall seasons I organized trips around Europe. This year I decided to work more in town and still managed to travel a little. A visit to NYC, although initially food related, we still managed to catch up with Disco Dave and catch a few good jams in Brooklyn including the “I Love Vinyl” monthly party. Be sure to check it out if you can!
Back in Montreal, a lecture on bboying at another adult centre I teach at paved the way for another opportunity to teach my “One Nation” course in 2012! I also judged an event organized by 701 Squad called “My Crew is Better Than Yours”. Congrats to Illmask for the win, there were some tough decisions! The same weekend as the 701 jam was an annual event put on by my crew member, Dingo called “Who’s Hungry?!” Dingo always brings different concepts to the event and this year the top 2 dancers to kill it in the circles get through the prelims and into the top 4 battle. Surprisingly I advanced and myself, Monstapop, Lost Child and Promo had to do round robin battles. In the end we were all considered winners and split the prize. To me the highlight of the night was battling Monstapop in a popping vs locking battle.
Dingo’s jam was a nice preparation for one of the highlights of the year. I was invited to Moscow, Russia for a strictly locking event called “Locking Up”. I was a special battle guest and got to teach a workshop alongside Richie Rich, Gemini, P-lock, A-Train and Razzle Dazzle. It was one of the best trips I’ve been on and to see locking so alive and vibrant in Russia was very inspirational. So many hungry dancers and all with very good energy. The preparty alone blew me away when I saw 2 circles going the whole night with about 30 lockers running things! After 2 days of workshops, the main event included a 1on1 and a crew vs crew battle. I made it to the finals against A-Train and although he took the win, it was definetely another personal victory for myself as I felt I broke through a very challenging mental barrier over the past year. Much respect to Vovan and the whole Russian scene who showed nothing but love!
The last month of 2011 and I think it ended quite nicely. Another edition of Shut Up & Dance at Urban Element and this time we organized an exhibition crew vs crew locking battle between all of us who practice every Tuesday night at the studio. It was me, Trek, Boom, Quantalock, Jeff, Guitou, GrooVinh and White Light. Thanks again to Urban for the opportunity, we will be teaching locking again in 2012 at Urban Element!
Before the holidays I took a trip to Ottawa to catch the Christmas edition of one of my favourite parties: Timekode organized by DJ Zattar. If you are ever in Ottawa be sure to check this party out, it’s so much fun! The Funk Delivery/Bread Crumbs squad came out and we tore it up!
That same weekend I judged a bboy battle in the West Island organized by Break City (my crew member Bboy City and his lady Tiffany). It was a fun event and there were many new young competitors new to the scene who came out to get down. Good to see so much growth in the city for Breaking! It was also nice to see the whole crew again before the holidays.
The year was concluded after Christmas when I came to back Ontario and had a chance to get down with my funk brothers: Frank Boogie and Tony 3 in the legendary Batcave.
So that’s it folks. 2011 is over! Compared to last year, it seemed less hectic and yet there were so many more things to write about. I was actually surprised to see how much happened while writing this entry! Again much love and thanks to everyone who made this year possible. The MTL and TO funk fam, Locking 4 Life fam, Ruby Jane and so many more. 2012 has already started off positive and a lot of potential for a very productive year. Here’s to food, friends and funk!!!!!!!