Nick Rodriguez finds inspiration in different places.
“I’ll find ideas from people walking, music, actors, the ballet. Anything that can relate to dance, really,” he said.
Rodriguez, 17, started his own dance group called Poetry in Motion two years ago. The break dancing group performed Thursday at the final Twilight Festival of the summer. The performance was held in Flat Branch Park at the corner of Fourth and Cherry Streets. While rain limited the amount of moves the dancers could perform, Rodriguez and his group still showed what they can do.
“Half of our moves were out the window (because of the rain),” said David Hilderbrand, a 20-year-old dancer in the group. “We don’t want to get hurt, but we could still do a lot of things like popping and things on our hands.”
Break dancing can be dangerous to the performers, especially when performing on concrete like on Thursday. Rodriguez has fractured fingers, strained leg muscles, bruised his tailbone, pulled a groin and hurt his hips throughout his dancing career.
But the injuries don’t stop him. He still practices daily and improves his strength through weight training.
“We do a lot of stretching, lifting, walking on our hands and benching,” he said. “But it’s more about balance. A lot of the moves are from our midsection. It’s mostly in your hips, so we practice against walls. You have to get used to the feeling of being upside down and in the position.”
The group practices in one of the members’ garages, or finds any open area they can, including small streets and parking lots.
Some aspects of urban dancing the group works on include: the “pop lock” where the dancer moves in a fluid motion followed by a sharp pop of the body, the “top rock” where the dancer covers space strictly on their feet, and flips where dancers incorporate acrobatic moves into dancing. Break dancing moves are close to the ground and tend to require more arm strength.
Taylor Zakrewski, 15, and Rodriguez also make choreographed routines. The dances they create for some competitions are more of an outline than strict movements.
“One time before a show, it took us 20 minutes to make the routine,” Zakrewski said. “But that was just a basis. When we went out, we added our own set of movements.”
Much of the dancing the group does is freestyle, moving according to the feel of the music.
“I just roll with the beat,” Hilderbrand said. “The hard part though is combining movements to make it look fluid.”
This type of dancing makes the performers tired, but Rodriguez said the dancers need to tough it out.
“You just gotta keep going,” Rodriguez said. “It gets hard to hold some of the freezes, but you just keep moving.”
After the hour-long performance was finished, the group — sweaty and tired — headed downtown. For what? Even more dancing. And yes, even in the rain.