To celebrate a whole year in business, we had our very first B.A Battle and Jam!The very word ‘battle’ evokes fear in many dancers despite it’s centrality to Street dance culture. For me, there are a few reasons for this. One being an overall confidence issue with freestyling. There are a lot of dancers who I’ve come across that prefer to be given choreography or create a devised piece as oppose to freestyling or working on short battle sets. Another issue that holds dancers back from battling is the idea of judgement. As well as the judges themselves, its likely that an audience is scrutinizing you too. Similarly, I think there’s a fear of the aggressive connotations we have with battling in it’s entirety.
I wasn’t actually aware of the battle scene until I went to university. Prior to this, I thought they were ghetto-ised sketches used in films as an attempt to demonstrate the sometimes violent nature of street culture. However, the actual origins of battling stem from quite the opposite. They were used as a way of conflict resolution that didn’t involve physical violence – you could out dance your opponent instead! This makes battling, as a concept within Hip Hop dance, a very social one. It not only allowed people to come together but to also work through their differences.
Over time, battles have evolved from street corners to huge arenas often with an array of prizes, endorsements and sponsorships attached. The whole scene wants to know, who’s judging – who’s battling – and who’s winning! The scale to which battling has elevated to has perhaps added to the reluctance of some dancers to get involved in the scene. I also feel like some street dancers claim to want to preserve the essence of our culture but then refrain from engaging with events that do so. I believe they lack the confidence to support their culture in the way that it demands.
The nature of today’s world can leave us reluctant to transcend beyond our comfort zone but this is so important as some of the best things happen in this space. We’re in a time where so many seek instant gratification from what they do and need validation in the form of social media likes and comments. Battles provide an actual real life space for you to feel valid in your art form and supported by other creatives. When done right, in my experience, battles can be phenomenally inclusive, supportive environment which possess the scope for dancers to grow.
For me, battles absolutely ooze the very essence of dances which originated in the streets. Despite the apparent competitive nature, view battles as a safe place to explore movement, exchange with other dancers and be vulnerable in your art form.
I expect to see you signed up for the next B.A Battle!