#3 Creativity and the Breakalign Method

(written by Nefeli Tsiouti)

What is the Breakalign Method? The Breakalign Method is a conditioning programme, based on the physiological and biomechanical analysis of the demands in the artform of Breaking (or ‘Breakdance’, as known by the media). Project Breakalign received funding to create the Breakalign Method from the Centre National de la Danse (2015-2016), which was researched and put together by a team of specialists that double major between dance (mostly Breaking) and a scientific discipline such as medicine, physiotherapy, sports science, dance science, human performance and more.

How was the Breakalign Method created? The Breakalign Method was first and foremost created by analysing Breaking, not only from a scientific perspective as mentioned above, but also by keeping the elements of creativity and the ‘mentality’ of breaking alive. Therefore, the Breakalign Method is not just based on a set series of exercises; within the exercises there has been room left for creativity and improvisation, in order to stay true to the elements of the Breaking artform.

Breaking and creativity: If you are not very familiar with Breaking, it is an artform which allows it practitioners to use their strong elements (physically or mentally), to be creative with it and to develop their skills in ways that will help them master their craft. A breaker does not necessarily do all the elements of breaking (toprock, footwork, freezes, powermoves etc), but they sometimes choose what better suits their body or what they enjoy doing the most, and they keep developing that, and this is where their creativity flows without limits. Breaking is one of the visual pleasures which offer surprise and awe to the viewer, and this is because of its spontaneity, musicality and limitless options of creativity. Therefore, the Breakalign Method creation was a very challenging task to bring into reality, in order to stay close to Breaking’s ‘mentality’.

I was once teaching a Breakalign Method masterclass at Breakin’ Convention Hip-hop Theatre Festival in London. One of the participants (non-breakers) asked me why I did not give more time to explaining a specific movement within an exercise, because the non-breakers did not catch the movement 100%. I was very happy to hear that question, because this is what you expect from a dance teacher right? To explain everything exactly how it is supposed to be done. Well, the Breakalign Method is not a dance class, it is a conditioning programme, and there is an amount of
‘freedom’ within the structure of the Method; in addition, the way the Method has been made, it does not permit the teacher to chew the food for the participants. The teacher shows them the food, but they have to chew it for themselves. The Breakalign Method is comprised of certain sections, where the participants have to ‘figure things out’. This does not only help them develop mtheir motor skills learning process, but it also allows them to follow a similar method that we use when learning Breaking; by seeing others, hearing others, asking others, or just letting our flow to work overtime and shows us the way. And this allows their creativity a leeway to keep developing within the conditioning. Of course, the Breakalign Method is focusing on prevention of injuries, therefore this ‘freedom’ is always given within safe practice boundaries and supervision of the Breakalign trainer.

Creativity within the Breakalign Method: To offer a better understanding of how the Breakalign Method uses this principle of creativity embedded within it, it happens in various ways. For instance, in certain parts of the Method, there are a few seconds where there is structured improvisation, for example after a very regimented strengthening movement pattern, there are 8 bars of music where the participant is being asked to stay within frontal footwork position and freestyle (frontal footwork position here is referring to zero position of footwork, or neutral position). This exercise as a whole (inclusive of the strengthening and then the improvisation), works on improving strength as well as endurance, therefore the combination of energy systems within the body’s function help the participant firstly get fitter, and secondly to acquire more physical fitness components necessary to be able to execute Breaking (or whatever their main activity is), in an effortless and injury-free way.

Become a Breakalign Method ambassador: What you can do in practice, and as an investment to yourself and your future, is to become a Breakalign Method ambassador, by completing the Breakalign Method training programme, which will give you all the necessary tools to be able to not
only help others, but also help yourself stay injury-free with a conditioned body. The programme will be available from September 2019.

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