I’ve been pretty bad this year at maintaining my blog/website. There were just so many other things happening that I couldn’t keep up with it. However, I always try making a point of doing a Year In Review post because it helps serve as motivation to top what I did last year. Also, my crew mate Jeff (Apachapoulilock) likes to see it grow each year so I’m dedicating this to him! Let’s see what went down in 2017…
The year started off with me teaching an intensive Locking workshop for the students at Imperium Dance School in Montreal’s West Island. Here’s a recap video and a photo from the workshop.
This month LockUnity moved into a new home. Espace Sans Luxe, a space for street dancers in Montreal, had its grand opening and LockUnity began hosting their weekly Tuesday Locking practices in this new location. Good sound system, great lighting and a beautiful floor. It’s been the perfect practice spot for the Montreal lockers!
Since the fall of 2016 the main members of LockUnity had been building and rehearsing for 100Lux, a festival in Montreal that focuses on street dance theatre performances. We developed a 15 min show all with Locking. It was the first time an entire group presented with only locking. The piece was called Requiem and it dealt with death and rebirth. Requiem had a lot of deep messages and it was certainly a challenge for all of us to bring out emotions we are not always used to expressing through dance. Needless to say everyone did a spectacular job. Big shoutout to 100Lux and Place Des Arts for the opportunity! I’ve included a section of the show here, entitled Maggot Brain, which shows how with every ending there is always new beginnings.
After almost 5 months of focusing on Requiem, it was nice to move on to other projects. I headed to Toronto during the March Break and there I taught a 3 hour Locking intensive.
Back in Montreal, we were also invited to present part of our Requiem piece at Kanpe Kanaval, a party hosted by Arcade Fire. LockUnity performed during the afterparty with DJ Windows 98 (Win Butler) handling the music. A small Instagram clip from our show is below.
The 3rd edition of On Point took place at the end of the month, organized by Kenini & Hoi. This year the invited judge was Kim Sato (Vancouver) and a few of our friends from the GroovMekanex (Bay Area, California) came to town. It was a great time. I decided to enter the battle to challenge myself and test out a few concepts I had been working on and I ended up winning for the 2nd time! The finals were between me and Quantalock. Each year it gets harder and harder to advance because the newer generation of lockers keep getting better. Makes me very proud to see the Canadian Locking scene grow!
The week after On Point I decided to enter another battle, Heir To The Throne. This was an All-Styles battle and I had judged the event previously in 2015. This year I entered with Waliid, an upcoming dancer in Montreal who has a lot of potential in many styles of dance!
Middle of the month LockUnity went on a road trip to Ithaca, NY. There we got to see the Cornell University Hip Hop Archive, I taught a Locking workshop on the university campus and judged Zero Ground Given 3, an All Styles battle.
The battles were pretty dope but it was awesome to see a LockUnity final. Quantalock & Apachapoulilock ended up taking the win. Congrats!
April 21 was the 1 year anniversary of Prince’s passing. Myself and Ruby Jane hosted Purple Music & A Microphone 2. It was a listening night at Ti Agrikol where I got to play some of my favourite lesser known and rarer Prince songs. Shoutout to all the waackers that came to support!
To end the month I was hired along side some of my Illmask crew members to perform at Cirque Du Soliel’s opening gala night for their new show, Volta.
May was a somewhat quiet month because I had to focus on some other non-dancing related projects. Specifically preparing for moving into a new home! I was involved with an event organized by Spicey, called Survival of Da Illest. A big group from the Yukon came to Montreal for workshops and to participate in an All Style battle. I taught a locking workshop and judged the battle. A lot of great talent from the youth in Canada’s northwest!
In Montreal there was a lot of rain in May and it cause severe flooding in parts of the city. To help some of those affected by the flood, including one of my crew members from Illmask, I helped participate in an event called Break The Flood which raised money for the Red Cross.
Because we worked so long on Requiem, I didn’t want to just present it once and be done with it. When I heard the UK’s Breakin Convention was coming to Toronto as part of a larger tour, I applied to perform. We got accepted and performed Requiem to an almost sold out crowd at the Sony Centre.
Summertime in Montreal is always so much fun. Some of the best parties of the year took place outdoors at Au Pied de Courant. Chocolate Jungle did a special Block Party performance and some awesome DJs kept the party going all night. There were even fireworks!
The first of the month is typically moving day in Quebec. After living in the Plateau for 5 years, me and Ruby Jane ended up moving into a place of our own! Half of June was spent doing renovations on our new condo and we finally did the big move the first week of June. It was a lot of work but we are really happy!
For dancers planning to visit Montreal and are looking for a place to stay, be sure to check out The Funk Room on AirBNB. Mention “LockUnity” when you book and get a special 10% discount!
Boombeast also started a new venture of his own, opening up a new restaurant called La Belle Tonkinoise. The food is a delicious mix of traditional Vietnamese/Cambodian and Asian fusion cuisine. It’s incredible and a must try restaurant in the city!
This was 100% Locking month. I judged the Locking battle at Under Pressure, an amazing Hip Hop festival in the city celebrating its 22nd year. Here is my judge demo. Quantalock took the win in the final against Apachapoulilock.
It was then off to Amsterdam to meet up with the Locking4Life family for Summer Dance Forever. 2017 marked the first year that Locking Forever was held. Over 100 Lockers from across Europe, North America and Asia participated. It is by far one of the hardest events for Lockers today. I made the top 16 (out of over 100) along with Funky J, LMC Lockers, and a few others in the L4L family. Big up to all who participated and Hurrikane who took the win! Here are two clips of my prelim round and my battle against Yuki (Japan).
To end the month I headed to France for Lock Is Not A Joke. This is my FAVOURITE Locking camp in the world. Big up to Funky J for all the work she does organizing this amazing program. A week in the middle of France with some of the best Lockers in the game. There were workshops with Tony Gogo, Gemini, Khan and Risa. I also got asked to teach a workshop (which was an honour) and even got to perform on stage with all the teachers (an even bigger honour).
Tony Gogo was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and we presented him with a surprise tribute video which I had the pleasure of working on over the summer.
On top of all this there was also a battle that took place. It was one of the harder battles I’ve had to do. Not only did I have to battle some of the illest new generation lockers in Europe (including IC Lock, Chambalock and Candyman) but I was also dealing with an ongoing hip injury (more on this later) which was made worse from a week of intense training. The final was between me and Candyman. Candy took the win but for me, just being able to battle and getting to the finals was a victory in itself!
Almost right after Requiem in February, myself, Quantalock and Apachapoulilock got together and began planning the LockUnity 10 Year Anniversary. We really wanted to do something special to celebrate 10 years of LockUnity being together and promote the Canadian Locking scene. Many of the different street dance styles all have one major event that brings dancers of that style to the city (Jack of All Trades, Hot Mess, Skillz O Meter, etc) We decided the Lockers needed a signature event and so we organized a weekend-long festival called Unlock The Funk. Most of the spring/summer we were working on applying for grants and an online fundraiser to help us run the event. During the first week of September we brought Tash, Gemini & Richie Rich to Montreal. They participated in a very insightful conference. We also premiered this mini documentary by Angelica Alberti Dufort called “Lock In Montreal”.
The guests taught over 10 hours of Locking workshops in two days. Lots of knowledge. The anniversary event itself celebrated Locking in Montreal. During the main event LockUnity did a great opening performance, there was a 2on2 Locking battle and we gave out Keys 2 The Lock awards to 6 individuals who helped lay the foundation for locking in Canada: Licorice Lloydd, DKC, Tash, Boot Camp Pat, Spicey & Goldylocks. Richie Rich also Dj’d the after party and just tore it up!!!! Check out this wicked trailer by Daniel Julien Inacio.
That was just to start the month off! I also travelled to Rochester, New York to judge an All Style battle at the Rochester Fringe Fest. Here’s a small clip of my judge demo.
In 2017 there were certainly a lot more Locking battles held across Canada. Shouout to the VanCity Lockers who also celebrated their 10 year anniversary this year and to the Vancouver Street Dance Fest who continue to host Locking battles. Hopefully I can make it out to the west coast in 2018! Closer to home, Keylock organized his first event: Crystallized, which had a 1on1 Locking battle. I wanted to support this event so I headed to Toronto and participated in the battle. Kenini was invited as a battle guest (awesome!) and we ended up battling in the finals. Here is the video of the final battle below.
This made two 1on1 wins for 2017. It might not seem like a lot but again being able to battle at 34 and with a chronic hip injury is no easy feat!
The best part of the trip to Toronto was being able to work on a collaboration video with some of the Toronto lockers. Mark Valino, a local videographer worked with us on this special piece called Take It To The Bridge. It was filmed all in one take and is one of my favourite video projects of the year!
Daniel Julien Inacio hit me up and asked me to film another one take video with him as part of his Keep It Raw series. A brand new Funkadelic album called “Reworked by Detroiters” came out and we wanted to use one of the songs from that album.
As an extra bonus Daniel filmed me explaining a little bit about “The Scrambled Leg” a signature move I had been working on the last few years that developed into a much wider concept that I could apply to my dance. Check it out!
Even though we have all been pretty busy with our own projects, Triforce got together for a special photoshoot with Hoi Do. Boombeast and Trek are my funk brothers and we have all come a long way since we first started practicing together over 10 years ago. I owe a lot to them and they continue to inspire me to this day! Much love!
As if all that happened in 2017 wasn’t enough, I was invited to Moscow, Russia for the 357 Locking Session organized by Vovan. Funky J was also there so it was a great opportunity for a Locking4Life family hangout! I was in Moscow 7 years ago for Locking Up. The scene has grown immensely. I was thoroughly impressed with the level of Locking there. The students are hungry and are really pushing their level. I probably taught one of the most advanced Locking classes there, second to only Japan. It was very motivating! CANADA, STEP YA GAME UP!!!!!
Straight up 2017 was my most active year for dancing to date. I tried only choosing a few highlights from each month, and there is more that I did not mention in here (including other workshops, practices, parties and battles/events). But over the year I had been dealing with a hip injury that developed since the start of 2016. I tried taking care of it as best as I could (getting it checked out by a doctor, and getting physio and osteo treatment). However, it never seemed to improve and it really took a toll on me physically and mentally. I was even told by the doctor that I had started developing osteoarthritis and may need surgery or may never fully heal. Upon my return from Russia I decided to get it checked out by a chiropractor. He saw right away that the injury was the result of deep leg muscles that never had the chance to properly heal after the initial injury in 2016. I was told to refrain from dancing for the month and focus on recovery and rehabilitation. There has been a lot of improvement but the process is slow. It’s been hard not being able to practice but it was really eye opening to understand how important it is to take care of your body as you get older. Eating healthy, stretching and exercise really makes a difference. To any dancer reading this, if there is one thing you take from this long post don’t ever take your body for granted! Things can change so quickly and getting back to where you want to be might take a very long time! I’m beyond grateful for being able to have done all these things in one year but realizing how it can all be taken away is very humbling.
So that’s another Year In Review complete. As I continue to recover I am already planning for 2018 and some new and exciting projects. I plan to come back stronger than ever and bring new and fresh ideas to the table! Thank you to all those who have made 2017 possible. Locking (in Canada and around the world) is growing at a steady rate and look forward to see what 2018 will bring.