Storm: The European School
Breakdancing, which started in the Bronx block party scene over 40 years ago, has become a global phenomenon. This series travels to New York, Berlin, Paris, and Seoul to see how the next generation of dancers is pushing the genre to new heights.
Storm: So, we're in the middle of Friedrichstrasse,
which is part of Kreuzberg on this end,
and we just passed Checkpoint Charlie.
And this end of Friedrichstrasse
was closed down in the early '70s
because, you know, like, nobody wanted to go through
to get stopped at the wall anyway.
[ All cheering ]
When the wall went down,
there were two sides of the coin, right?
One, okay, the East was open.
The East was open, and for all of us,
we kind of like knew what that meant for us.
Now, the troops in Berlin,
the French, the English, and the Americans,
they became redundant.
They were not needed anymore.
So for us, in the development of hip-hop culture,
the Americans, especially the Americans,
were very important.
We learned all the social dances from the '80s.
We learned them all firsthand by going to the American clubs
and by going to these different parties
that they held, you know?
I'm looking at the place,
and I'm thinking of how many hours,
how many days, how many months are spent in this place,
just practicing day in, day out,
not thinking of anything else.
Oh, this is really mad for me.
I haven't been in this room for more than 20 years, really.
You've got a picture, like,
I don't know if you can imagine, right?
Of course, in the center, you could see all the marks.
If you would come in this room, you would see
that people were spinning with helmets and everything.
So mainly right here in the center,
and everybody else was standing around,
and we had our cyphers going on.
So this is the spot right here.
Every time a guest came to Berlin,
Crazy Legs was one of the celebrities, as well,
that came over here to practice with us.
Of course, you know, like his tag was always kept like,
"Hey, hey, don't get into the Crazy Legs tag."
[ Laughs ] You know?
And for us, this was my second home, basically.
A group started -- they were called Flying Steps.
I met them for the first time in '92.
The development of b-boying, or breaking, in Europe,
then we cannot forget Flying Steps.
They were a big part of it, you know?
From where I started with them and where they are now,
there's a big difference.
There's a huge difference.
And they won Battle of the Year 2000,
which marked the point, also,
they were the last German winners of Battle of the Year.
Man: Flying Steps.
[ Cheers and applause ]
Flying Steps Academy.
I met those guys in '92 for the first time.
I put them under my wing,
and then they became part of Storm and Jazzy Project,
you know, my first theater company, in '97.
And then through the help of a European soft-drink company,
they got, like, really good financial support,
and not just that they open up their own academy
and their own place, but they also --
you know, they came up with two very significant pieces.
One is called "Flying Bar,"
where they dancing to a classical music,
and the other one is called "Flying Illusion,"
with what they're mainly touring right now.
By the year '98, '99,
a lot of hip-hop dancers came by.
And we just didn't practice breaking,
but every dancer, every dancer was coming by.
It was our, like -- kind of like our...for a minute,
you know, where everybody from the city,
where you knew if it was good weather,
you come out here, and you practice here.
So, this is where the checkerboard was --
-- where we saw the checkerboard.
And since we were dancing everywhere anyway, you know,
it was the perfect spot to be.
So for many summers, this was the coolest spot.
If we wanted to make money on the street,
then usually we would break in here.
This is like Breitscheidplatz.
This was the center of the West.
There were a lot of cafés around here.
Kurfurstendam was known
to have all those cinemas around.
And so people wanted to just walk around, you know,
and have a little stroll,
husband and wife, and whatever, family time.
And it was the perfect time,
so people had time for entertainment.
It's smooth. It's nice.
You know, you don't need anything extra.
You don't need no masonite, no lino, no nothing.
It was easy.
So, this is what we called the clubs,
this fountain here.
And it's quite loud when you stand by there.
So what was really important is that our music was loud.
So you see, like, the street performers,
like, back in the days.
Actually, they took our spot.
So, we always marked our square with a piece of chalk.
With a piece of chalk, we marked the square.
It's a psychological border
where people know exactly where to step.
And you see here the shoes?
We would talk to people.
"Yeah, you know, step in front of the line.
We know exactly what we're doing.
This is our stage," and so on and on.
"You don't want us to go back."
And then you take the piece of chalk,
and you make, like, a little line under your nose,
and you say, like, "You don't want us
to sell some drugs to your children, you know?"
So, then, you had like the --
So it looked like cocaine and stuff.
So those were all money lines
so that people knew that at the end of the show,
they would have to pay us.
Just go in cool first and down, and you see the man in action.
Storm in the house. Okay.
Thank you. [ Both laughing ]
Nice. [ Laughs ]
[ Speaking German ]
[ Speaking German ]