Zoom, November 2021
Bgirl Nat found Breaking at her university, King's College London, back in 2013 and has been committed to the dance and community ever since. From initially being more active within the university breaking scene, organising events and running workshops for students, to now being a more competitive individual in the UK and internationally. She progressed significantly in 2021, qualifying for Redbull UK, making top 4 at Breakmission and top 3 at the first UK GB Trials. Her next goal is to win a Bgirl battle and enjoy the process that could get her there!
IA: Could you introduce yourself and describe what it is that you do?
NL: I'm Natasha, originally born and raised in Hong Kong. I moved to London back in 2010 for university and it was at uni where I started breaking. It wasn’t till my final year, 2013, that I actually started breaking. I wish I’d started sooner but at the same time, I have no regrets finding it, even in my final year, because since 2013, until now, I'm still carrying on this amazing dance that I do. Bgirl Nat is the breaking name that I go by. I currently work a full time office job as an account executive in a marketing technology company, allowing me plenty of time after work and on the weekends to train.
IA: The idea of crews and kinships and families that you choose is really prevalent in breaking and Hip Hop. Could you talk about your relationship to Natural Selections and about kinship and the idea of families that you've chosen throughout your travels in the breaking world?
NL: Yeah, definitely, it all started at Breaking KCL. King's College London was my university and that was where I found breaking. That's where the friends that I've built from the society are now my friends today as well. The people that originally started teaching me were just students from the uni too. I think that's really important to note, that that's where my breaking started and I would say that's where my first family for breaking has come from and that's where most of my breaking friends are from as well. Many have stopped breaking, but the friendship still carries on. That just shows how breaking can really bring people together, even when people go off on their own different paths, different lives and careers. The friendship is still there. From breaking at KCL, the next part of my family that I found would be in Taiwan. I actually went to Taiwan for a summer school to improve my Chinese ironically, but you know, instead of just learning Chinese from the university that I was a part of, I found the breaking scene as another form of activity. What else can you do after studies, right? And in fact my Chinese improved by hanging out with the Taiwanese breakers, more so than it did in the classroom. That was 2015. We're still friends as well and actually, just two weekends ago, I met up with my Taiwanese friends and I battled with them in Belgium. It's just so crazy how breaking can really keep you connected with people around the world. You meet each other years down the line and compete together and see how you've all progressed. I would say that was my second family. The third point was when I went to Australia. I went to Australia on the working holiday visa, as you do, before the age of 30 you are allowed to travel the world and experience life a bit more. Again, because I didn't have any friends in Australia, how do you make friends? Breaking scene, right? So, I joined all the breakers there. Again, I feel like I formed another family there because I was there for a whole year and my breaking really improved from then on. When I came back to the UK - I came back in 2019 – that was when I started being a lot more involved in the UK scene because, before Australia, I had only ever really stayed within my university. That's where Breaking KCL...and that's where Natural Selections actually formed - most people are from King's College London. The original founders as well, they were part of the committee and I had to join the committee of Breaking KCL so it's a very university centric group and family. But after 2019 - after my Australia stretch - when I came back, I decided that I also needed to get myself out there more and get out of this university bubble and start training with people in the UK scene...and then COVID happened. I was doing really well and I was trying to get myself out there training with all sorts of different people. But COVID happened. Luckily, I did have my crew because during COVID we would make an effort to have Zoom calls to keep each other accountable. Even if one screen had us on camera, we would just be doing our own thing, but it's just that accountability of being able to just still push through your breaking even though we couldn't meet up in person to train together. And then here we are today.
IA: The idea of generational hierarchy and lineage is really prevalent in breaking. Could you talk a little bit about your lineages and your hierarchy in breaking? Who are you learning from? Who are your peers? Who’s studying underneath you?
NL: I would say, who really has supported me from the beginning till now is my friend Michael. I’d like to name him because obviously, he was there when we started breaking together. So, it's only natural that we continue to progress together, bounce ideas off of each other, battle together as well. And then another one of my really good friends...I guess at each part of the journey that I mentioned earlier on, in Taiwan and Australia, there is always someone that you really connect with, and you grow your breaking with. In Taiwan is this B-boy called Sharp Ling. He's the one that I battled with in Belgium, two weekends ago. In Australia, it was B-boy Lowe. And then within the crew, we have Niilante, who also coached our crew during the COVID period. He ran some sessions on Zoom with the group. I think the more your breaking progresses, you have people that are there to always bounce ideas off. Even if there's no official definition of ‘you are my leader’ or something like that, you're all learning from each other. Even if there's someone that's less experienced than me, I am willing to still learn from them to because you can always learn and pick up different pointers and ideas from one another. I would say it goes both ways. The people that you train with, you'll share your ideas and exchange knowledge with as well. And you'll help them too and they'll help you. Breaking is just such a mutually beneficial dance.
IA: In terms of the people in your network, who are the three people that nourish, support and feed you? It's important that it's only three, and it can be inside or outside of dance.
NL: One is God. I really feel like that's important to mention, because it's up to him who he puts in my life. And then definitely, I would have to name the two that I've named earlier, which is Michael and Lowe, because they've really been there for me. Before, during, after a battle, but more importantly, in life. My life isn't 100% breaking, but they are the breakers that also care about me outside of breaking too.
IA: Paris 2024 - breaking is included. What are your thoughts on it?
NL: I'm really excited. I think that gave me another goal to work towards. Something that I always tell my crew, my friends and my family, even if I don't make it to the 2024 Olympics, that is my goal, because then that's something I'm working towards. The process is just as important as whether I make it or not to represent, because I would have personally achieved so much in this past year and in the next three years working towards 2024. I'm just really excited for it.
IA: The Olympics - they're about representing a flag and nation, a nationalism of sorts. And yet, breaking in crews are inherently local. They're hyperlocal. I was wondering, do you have anything to say about that, that flag versus nationalism versus localism.
NL: Could you explain your question further?
IA: Representing at the Olympics, you're sat under a flag, it could be the Union Jack, it could be the Stars and Stripes. It's about this nationalism, a national pride of ‘I am representing my country’, but where breaking comes from is about a hyperlocal…it's your crew, in your ends, in your area. I was wondering is there tension or not in that equation?
NL: I guess for me, I think there's a time and place for everything and everyone so for example, a lot of people are against the Olympics, but if they don't want to take part in it, that's OK. Because you'll be able to take part in something else, something that's a bit more local, or maybe something that's just not run with such a high level of intensity in terms of a lot of professionalism and businessmen type scenarios. If they want to, then that's fine. But I think for me, it's just being a bit more open minded and accepting that there are these different options and opportunities. I would like to take part in all of it, I don't want to be the one that picks and chooses. I actually really love that there's these different opportunities - your local jams in a forest, which I took part in this year, or if I get to go to the world stage on Red Bull or the Olympics, that's amazing as well.
IA: How do you archive your own work? How do you document the things that you do with a view, ultimately, towards the legacy that you want to leave?
NL: I think we all contribute in breaking in our own ways. I think a lot of people can easily, let's say...see those top dogs who really make it across the world stage...or let's say, judges or coaches that are able to run workshops, for example, because they've made a name for themselves. They've done really well and contributed to breaking there but, I think someone like me, who has a lot fewer years in the breaking scene, I think the way I personally would contribute to things is like when I joined the Breaking KCL committee...I was organising the workshops and events for these people to come in to university to teach the students and let other people experience breaking in that way. Right now, for example, here in the London scene, I run the London WhatsApp chat - something as simple as that. It's also allowing people a platform to be aware of where are the jams, where are the training spaces, and any videos and footage you want to share. People can just chat on this group. These smaller things are the way I'm contributing. I guess my method of leaving a legacy, hopefully, people will know that, even if I didn't become a superstar in breaking, she contributed in her own little way and ways which allowed other people to have a good experience in breaking as well. In terms of my own breaking, definitely, video footage. I sometimes look back at where I started, I still have some videos from back in 2013, 2014. It's just so funny to look back on it, I’m really grateful for technology to be able to capture where I started and where I am now. I would love to see where I get to in the future as well.
IA: This is a nerd question. What is the part of breaking that you really nerd out on? Is there a particular part? Is it threading? Is it about power? I am really interested in the super niche details and what gets you excited by it.
NL: I think...what you mentioned about threading the little details, I would say that is more of my style. It’s what I'm known for, as well as these little intricate movements. I'm definitely not a power person. And I'm not as strong as the other girls and guys, but you play to your own strength, right? And people know me for having those little details.
IA: Have you created or adapted any moves that you would call a signature? Is there a Bgirl Nat signature?
NL: This topic of signature is so interesting, because I actually would say...I have this move that I call my Kung Fu move, because I guess inspiration was me being Chinese...OK, Kung Fu. But then at the same time, when I told my friends, some of the guys that I mentioned, this is my signature, and then they just kind of did it back at me. Their point being well, it's not really a signature because I too can do it. So, I'm like ‘oh, darn. OK, I need to think of more’. So I guess there's different definitions of signatures. If you can replicate it technically, then it's too easy, maybe to come up with something harder, but at the same time, signature, because I created it.
IA: How would you describe it in words? What is B-girl Nat’s Kung Fu move?
NL: I grabbed the person's head, put it on my knee and then flick my knee over and then land and like...oh, it’s so hard to explain, but that’s my attempt.
IA: You've hit a lot of jams this year. You've repped really hard and I'm interested in getting your perspective and memories from some of them. Battle of the Year - a relatively recent one. What were some of the highlights and reflections from Montpellier?
NL: Battle of the Year was an event I've always wanted to go to because I watched all these documentaries and people talk about it. Obviously, it was supposed to be a 20k person event, but it became 2000 because of COVID. But then I realised it really wasn't about numbers because it was Battle of the Year, but it was more because of the people I was with. That made it so much fun. Renting the Airbnb together with a group of dancers and just cyphering all night. Another highlight for me was somehow I didn't have this fear of cyphering. I actually cyphered so much at the event, to the point I made it to the Battle of the Year highlight reel, which meant I was going in a lot and they captured me. I was really happy about that, because with every event I go to I build confidence to step in. I get to connect with other people as well and you start to see familiar faces, they start to see me too, and then you start to build more friends. I think that's also why I'm making an effort to just go to these different jams myself, or with people. I don't even mind going by myself, for the Belgium jam, I just went on the Eurostar myself and met up with friends there. It's really about exposure and experience.
IA: You mentioned you went to the Hydro Jam in the Welsh forest, what was that like?
NL: That was really fun, even though the stage was sinking because it had rained so much the night before. It was just such a nice atmosphere. Jams can last really long. This was so nice because it was outdoors with fresh air and it felt like a nice community, families and a lot of kids as well. I think it's important to go to these local ones and the big ones too, because you gain different experiences and different things. It's just about continuing to build that community and support events as well. Sometimes I go to events and I don't battle, but it's the fact that I'm present to support the dancers who are dancing and to support the organisers who have organised the event.
IA: The Bridge. What was that like?
NL: That was very different for me to be getting down on such an interesting floor. Wasn't the cleanest, obviously, but I was...I feel like my breaking has progressed me as a person so much as well. I grew up as such a city girl. I would never even touch grass because I've grown up on concrete. I've just come out of this bubble and I'm so much more willing to do things, try things, get down and dirty. I was fine. I really enjoyed it. It just felt so real and raw. Being able to be under the bridge, surrounded by graffiti artists as well as having a DJ playing and their small lino area. We took the cypher outside of the lino and danced on the concrete. That was such a fun experience. The atmosphere was really nice.
IA: And then Red Bull BC One in Poland.
NL: That again, was me watching the World Finals, but also watching the Last Chance Cypher, which I thought was better than the World Finals, because I was so close in person. With the World Finals, it's such a stage setting that...we were on one of the higher seats, but with the Last Chance Cypher, I was literally right in the front of the circle and watching these amazing dancers do their thing and really wanting to make that world stage, you could see the drive and the fire, I too want to be in their place one day as well. I'm trying to do my best to climb here in the UK, so that I can represent whether it's at Red Bull, the Olympics or whatever, I would love to win a B-girl battle one day and be in that position. I think by watching these people come with so much fire just inspires me to keep pushing hard too.
IA: It's interesting because there's multiple ways of learning isn't there? There's cyphering, there's exchanging...but what you're talking about there by being present, you're learning by watching and analysing. Could you talk about the ways in which you learn and how do you translate that into your body?
NL: Definitely at Red Bull we would have been cyphering as well. We weren't just sitting there for hours and days. But there's so many ways to learn right? I think one is definitely mental and visually so if you're injured still run through your rounds, still visualise how do you think you'll achieve a move or if you're capable and physically healthy, keep on dancing, keep on training. The training does not just come from dancing itself but it is conditioning too, to make sure your body is able and ready to do the harder moves you're trying to attempt to do. Attending workshops is always really helpful, I notice that a lot of people are not really...once they hit a certain level or feel like they've had a few years of experience, they ditch the classes and the workshops. But I'm always open and willing to learn because there's always going to be nuggets of information, like someone might just say a little something, and then something clicks and then you get a move. You just never know who will say that little something that suddenly helps to trigger you to get a move for example, or just different concepts that you might be learning from someone who's grown up breaking in the US their whole life vs someone in Asia. I feel like every country has really different distinct styles as well. It's so useful to learn from different people from all over the world.
IA: Did you watch the WDSF live stream at the weekend?
NL: Yes, I did.
IA: What were your thoughts?
NL: I didn't watch the whole thing because the internet kept on jumping in and out and also everyone was talking about this - the commentary. You couldn't really hear the music because the commentary was so loud. A big part of breaking is hearing the music really clearly and seeing the detail of the dancers to the music, right. So that was distracting. But in terms of what I saw it was incredible and I really enjoyed it, I think the highlight for me was Danny Dan from France, his beat kill...that one you caught because he really paused even though the comments were really loud. I really thought it was a great event.
IA: What was it like training with Kev in the kitchen?
NL: I don't train there any more, but when I came back from Australia in 2019, I was there for three months with some of the other B-girls so like, with Vanessa with Zana…who else was there? I think us three were the more consistent ones. But at the same time, there wasn't consistent sessions even in the three months because you know Kev, he’s such a busy person. He's been called all over the world to be judging and stuff. And so he knew that as well that he couldn't run consistent sessions. In the three months, we did do a few sessions at his kitchen. And then this year, I went to two sessions, but stopped that as well. What about his sessions?
IA: It's a very different environment to either your crew or in a class situation. He is at the top of the game and was the head judge at WDSF.
NL: I think his sessions are no different to the ones that Manny is running right now. You know, Breaking GB run those Monday sessions. It's like that, where you have that one person telling you what to do. It helps to push you because when there's that one person yelling at you, do more or do this again, it makes you run it more. I think what's great about Kev’s sessions was that there were other B-girls that I could train with as well. You know, Vanessa is incredible at breaking, but she doesn't train there any more actually. I think right now it's just Rox and Solid who trains there. I think Emma’s been once.
IA: In 2020, you entered 14 battles and qualified four times. What are your stats like for this year? Have you beat that?
NL: 14 battles?
IA: Yeah, it said on that on the Natural Selections crew table for 2020. I was wondering what it's like this year, have you put that together yet?
NL: With NS, we didn't keep track this year. It was more of a last year thing, I think, because again, during lockdown, we needed some form of encouragement, really encouraging people to get involved. I got involved with all the different online battles, and I was really happy to have qualified for the Red Bull e-battle. In terms of my stats, I've definitely improved this year because, I first started with qualifying for Red Bull in the UK and then I then qualified for Break Mission as well and I made top four. Then for the Breaking GB one, I actually made top three. There was this gradual progression over time and these were in person battles as well. Another part that I felt really good was for Red Bull UK, I actually had to win my spot at the top eight as well, because I wasn't an invite. I actually had to push really hard in the qualifiers because I was seeded to lose, so I was so happy. Because I didn't think...I didn't have too good of a prelim versus some of the other girls, so they seed you - naturally like all battles - and I was actually seeded to lose. I knew that and I had to fight really hard and so it meant so much when I did make it to the world stage, well to the UK world stage. I also qualified for the 2v2 It's Just Begun Jam and I qualified also for the Wales outdoor jam as well. I've qualified in a lot of in person jams this year and I feel like I'm doing something right.
IA: For you internally, what do you think has shifted? Has it been that you're putting more time in? Are you analysing things differently? Are you trying different moves? What has made that shift?
NL: I think it's the consistency and determination. I feel like since coming back from Australia, I was so motivated to improve my breaking and because of that drive, I've been so consistent with my training. Consistent with conditioning - and as you build more strength, you get more moves as well, and when you get more moves, you feel really good. You're wanting to try even more and one thing inches another...I think that then is reflected in battles as well.
IA: I'm interested in the psychology of a battle...how each person approaches it. What is your state? What is your energy like as you're about to go into that space?
NL: I used to be...I got really nervous, like stomach ache nervous. But honestly, more recently, the more battles I do...you just learn somehow internally to calm yourself and trust that everything you prep for that battle, you've already put in the work, so whatever happens on the day, you know you couldn't have done any better because you had already prepped for that day. Try and chillax and enjoy the event and enjoy the moment and just do the best you can. There's always going to be something you wish you did better, but that's where you always have another chance. That one battle isn't the end of the world - you live and learn from every battle that you do.
IA: What was the first Hip Hop theatre work that you saw? If you have seen one?
NL: The first ever exposure for me to breaking was actually UK B-boy Champs. I went to this…I went to the UK B-boy Champs back in 2012, again with Breaking KCL. They invited me to come and join in and watch, and I was just so mind blown. Can you imagine in Hong Kong I never had exposure to breaking at all? And then when I came here it was like out of the movies, you know? That was super cool.
IA: You've done a little bit of choreo, like when you went over to Taiwan you did a little bit of contemporary choreo. Have you ventured into that world at all, into the creation world?
NL: Do you know, during lockdown, Break Mission ran some online classes, so I attempted some contemporary classes and Hip Hop, House as well. Even when I was in Taiwan, because I trained with HRC B-boys of course, HRC is a dance studio so they had other styles too. I tried some Waacking, some House, so I was always open to trying and learning but I find picking up choreo really difficult. I think being a breaker is more about you creating your own thing, doing things in your own time. Whereas choreo is just a lot harder. I think it's been beneficial learning from some classes too because you can always incorporate other styles into your moves and into your top rocks or...actually I did end up having some contemporary stuff transferred into one of my combos as well. You get ideas from different people and different styles.
IA: What would you want to dismantle in Hip Hop?
NL: To dismantle...that question only applies if I feel there's something wrong...and I haven't really thought of anything that's like bad or too wrong at the moment. [pause] No, I really haven't thought of this I suppose. Honestly, I've had a very positive and happy journey so far. Not everything is smooth sailing, especially when it comes to things like injuries, for example, but a lot of things are inevitable as well. I think it's all part of normal life. Everything that has been ups or downs in my Hip Hop and breaking journey - you could apply that to family, to work, to life.
IA: What's your relationship to craft and practice?
NL: I think from what I've heard, it's always...people will always say ‘work on your own craft,’ right? It's about developing you as a dancer, you as a breaker. What makes you happy? What makes you feel like you're representing you? I think that's where I'm really grateful that from the very start of my Breaking, I always knew I wasn't a very strong person, so it was always about creating stuff. When people were practicing power and stuff, and I never even had the strength to do a handstand, I'd be trying to create moves through footwork, and I think that's where I differentiate myself, let's say, for example, in the UK, from some of the B-girls, where people know that I do these more intricate, detailed footwork stuff, and it's stuff that I've created over the years that I'm really pleased and proud of because I know that was the route that I needed to go down because I didn't have that strength. Although, over lockdown, I managed to build so much strength because you're stuck at home, what could you be doing? Somehow after lockdown, I actually felt I started getting more power moves.
IA: There's a huge conversation globally at the moment about environmentalism and sustainability. But there's this huge capitalist mentality towards growth and bigger and faster and more things. What are your thoughts on degrowth or slowness? How might they manifest in Hip Hop and in your breaking?
NL: As in if people were to try and slow the growth of let's say...Red Bull and Olympics, that sort of thing?
IA: It’s probably bigger. What if we didn't all keep striving to do more bigger, faster but if we slowed down? If there was more reflection, if it was about quality, rather than quantity?
NL: I think that there's always a positive to that, to be able to slow down and just appreciate what you have already around you, who you have around you as well, who your true friends are. I think there's always important time and space for that to be able to just pause. Ironically, I think a lot of those moments come when injuries come and I can’t break any more and I'm like, ‘hang on, what have I achieved so far?’ Have a bit more reflection time. But I think it's definitely a positive to be able to do that more often, not just when you're injured, but actually just...it's almost like quiet time when it comes to me and God. In the Bible and Christianity, you're supposed to have that quiet time every day. So maybe this could apply to breaking too. Pause and reflect. Are you satisfied with what you already have, rather than always trying to achieve more, but there's also no harm in trying to be a better version of you, right? It's just when it comes to the pace of that. It's so hard to say sometimes, things just kind of come naturally and it just goes from there. Sometimes you don't expect it and growth occurs.
IA: Is there anything that you want to talk about or mention, or to have on record that we've not spoken about so far? It's a chance for you to think ‘actually, this was important, or I'd like to talk about this jam, or this battle or this person’. It's an open space for you.
NL: I guess we never really touched upon...where my motivation really came from, so it'd be good to cover that. I think, for me, when I was here in London before my Australia stretch, I wasn't as dedicated and determined in my breaking, I just really saw it as a side thing I would do here and there alongside my career. But then...I then had this really bad lower back injury. From MRI scans and everything the doctor was saying ‘you shouldn't be breaking’ and it's one of those where I could have just given it up completely or...try and overcome that. And in Australia, I had really good physio there and people were really helpful in my breaking journey and continued to help to motivate me to stick at it. I'm so grateful that I did because from then on, I think the mentality has always been like, if you're able to move, then move, you know, don't have a lazy day. I train pretty intensely, I train every day pretty much and people think that's crazy. We all have different bodies, so it's not recommended for everyone, but it is my mindset of like, ‘if I'm healthy, and well, I want to be able to try and progress my breaking’ because I overcame that injury. It does come back, it's lumbar spine four and five. But it's what I think got me to where I am.
IA: That must be a strange situation. You've got a medical professional saying, ‘you've got to stop. You've had a spinal injury’. And yet here you are less than four years later, top three-ing in the GB Olympic trials, qualifying left, right and centre. That's remarkable.
NL: Yeah, I'm really happy that I was able to overcome that. And actually, I know a lot of people who have...for example, Stephanie, you know, she won the Red Bull here in the UK, and even made it to the World Stage for the Red Bull World Finals. She has a similar problem...I think it was more her neck, it's also a spinal issue and she too overcame that. I think a lot of the times it's seeking professional advice, perhaps from people who understand sports people or dancers or people who want to still remain active, rather than saying, ‘no, just stick to swimming’. It's putting yourself in their shoes and helping them to achieve and overcome.
IA: One of the things that I think marks you out is your energy and your positivity and that really comes across in your battles. Could you talk about that, because that feels...that may be natural to you as a person, but that feels...quite rare.
NL: I think a lot of times, I'm genuinely so happy to be there. I actually think the opportunities we get from breaking, the joy it brings to me outside of the battles, and you work so hard to then be able to present your stuff as well, right? I'm just really happy to be there and I think that's why I am a bit more cheerful when I battle.
IA: This last 18-20 months has been full of anxiety, full of grief and full of COVID for a lot of people. It's been really heavy. But as an inversion to that, could you talk about some of the kindnesses that you've received from people in breaking or outside?
NL: Yeah, definitely. I think I mentioned earlier you know, with having my crew and us being able to video call each other all the time throughout lockdown because I have zero family here in the UK and I haven't seen my family for two years now because of COVID. Hong Kong is still having this 21 day quarantine rule which is really silly. But you know, without them I wouldn't have been able to survive lockdown because I would have just been so bored at home. I'm really grateful for them, and in particular Sandy in my crew. We're really tight girlfriends outside of breaking but then because we're both breakers and both in the same crew we push each other so hard when it came to the conditioning, following AJ’s YouTube videos so shout out to him as well because him and also Fit Break as well. Jeffro videos - those were really helpful for us during lockdown. Another thing during lockdown as well was Jilou and Mel ran these sessions, and so did Khanage, I followed those as well. Because I was at home alone, I followed whoever was sharing something online. I would just join to make sure that I had things to do and not go crazy by myself. That was during lockdown. And then also, like I mentioned B-boy Loose from Break Mission started running some classes as well which I joined and another shout out is for Bogdan who ran these movement classes. It initially started off as being part of Break Mission but you know from there, he's now starting to run his own company as well. I think lockdown actually opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for dancers even though it did close a lot of doors too. I think from there, take the Bogdan example, he's now running these movement classes because it started being successful through online sessions to begin with and now he can run it in person and all these people and all these classes...it was super helpful for me during the past year and a half of COVID and lockdown. Then as things started to open back to normal life, everyone in the UK has played a part in my breaking journey, even if we're not necessarily...if we’re not hanging out outside of breaking training, but the fact that we're all training in the same spot together, for example. You bring each other energy, you bring each other good vibes for a good session together. I would say these people contribute to my breaking indirectly as well, just by being there. I'm sure it applies both ways. Maybe just by me being there, it's just that extra person in the room, doing their own thing as well, and it just brings energy to the group.
IA: What is your relationship to music?
NL: Do you know, I actually had a friend ask me the other day saying, ‘oh, does that mean you listen to breaking music all the time? Outside of breaking?’ No, definitely not! I actually really love acoustic music which is completely different. It's very mellow because I love playing the guitar as well. I just love being able to sing along to acoustic music. Ed Sheeran - I have no shame saying that, I love it! Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran. That's me and my music.
IA: A lot of breaking is about seeing the music in the body...you're hitting freezes, finding polyrhythms. Could you talk a little bit more about that, about how you interpret the music when you're in that space?
NL: I guess you're talking about when I'm training for breaking? Yeah, I’ve definitely been trying to get better at being able to kill the beat. There's some people that are just so good at that and it just comes so naturally. I think, for me, it is something that I have to work on. It's not something that comes completely naturally to me, because sometimes when I'm in a battle, you do blank...you can't really hear the music super clearly, because there are nerves. The more you practice that at training, then the more it'll translate through in a battle. That's still something I'm working on and I'm very aware of.
IA: What is your strongest memory of dance?
NL: Ooh...strongest memory. I think...I remember feeling super, super happy. It was last year at Red Bull when I qualified in the UK, because I guess...I didn't really understand or was aware of my level, until then, having come from just training within the university and things like that. That was my safe space and that was where I had a lot of fun with all my friends. It was a very social thing. So, I didn't know what it would be like to then compete with the UK B-girls here and then to qualify, it meant a lot to me. I just remember being super happy on that stage. I ended up going against Vanessa, which is a nice experience because she's such a dope B-girl. And even though she's such a challenge to beat and I couldn't beat her, but I just remember so much joy that I felt. It's just all really exciting.