„Beatstreet“ in Saxony
A Saxon breakdancing troupe has been hitting the headlines in Germany and abroad since 2013.
Fast beats fill the room and two dancers twist their bodies to the rhythm like acrobats. They turn handstands into somersaults, spin on their backs and then suddenly freeze in position for several seconds. This move is called an “air freeze” in breakdancer slang. The two dancers gyrating on the floor of the Emmers community hall in Dresden are Felix Roßberg and Philip Lehmann. They are the founder members of The Saxonz breakdance crew, which scooped the championship title at Germany’s Battle of the Year held in Saxony in September.
Dance of the street fighters
The name of this highly regarded competition has its roots in the dance style that originated on the streets of New York in the 1970s and gained huge popularity all over the world after the 1984 film Beat Street. But modern-day dancers are not involved in street fights like the first breakdancers were, even though the group competitions are still referred to as battles. Watching Roßberg and Lehmann in training, it’s actually more like elite sport. Philip Lehmann: “Anyone who wants to make it to the top needs to train for several hours a day,” says the 27-year-old. He started breakdancing 13 years ago and knows that the other 12 members of The Saxonz are just as ambitious as he is. “We all understand that each individual is responsible for the overall performance of the group,” adds Felix Roßberg, who has been a breakdancer for ten years. They both had the idea of forming a breakdance crew consisting of the best Saxon dancers. In 2013, they chose 13 out of around 40 applicants and have been extremely successful ever since. Three weeks after their victory in the German heat of the Battle of the Year, they met national champions from all over the world at the final in Braunschweig and went straight into the top ten at their debut event.
Competitive dance with a bright future
“We were delighted to have represented Germany at the breakdancing world championships,” says Philip Lehmann. “We’re only just beginning to develop our crew and we’ve definitely tasted blood now!” That’s why training will continue after the gruelling competition – in Dresden, Chemnitz and the other home towns of the Saxonz members. They usually get together to practise only just before competitions; most of the breakdancers are aged between 16 and 28 and need to go to work or school as well as dance. However, there could also be professional opportunities for the competitive dancers in the future. More and more breakdancers are earning money from their skills, while some are able to make a very good living from breakdancing. They are sought after for shows, adverts and even for some theatre performances. “The breakdancing scene is certainly never dull,” says Felix Roßberg.