Under the UDEF banner, Spotlighting Rhythm XIV showcased some of Penn State’s best breakdancers, each seemingly escaping a troublesome weekend in thumping beats.

It’s rare to see a group of university students energetic on a Saturday, and even rarer for them to maintain that energy for hours on end. Yet, for the fourteenth annual Rhythm Spotlight, hosted January 28, 2017, competitors from State College and beyond linked up in Heritage Hall for an evening of 1v1 All Styles and 2v2 Bboy/Bgirl Breaking competitions.

Sanctioned by UDEF (Urban Dance & Educational Foundation), Rhythm Spotlight XIV is part of the Pro Breaking Tour, an alliance between Freestyle Session and Silverback Bboy Events dating back to 2014 (UDEF, 2017). The second tour event of the year, Rhythm Spotlight XIV follows Paris’ ‘Chill in the City’ as part of the global Satellite Series (UDEF, 2017).

The Jam
Dubbed ‘The Jam,’ the competition was part of a larger weekend of workshops, led by the contest’s judges. Overseeing the 1v1 All Styles were B. Diddy, Brian Green, and Sum Kim. The 2v2 Breaking contestants were judged by Napalm, NastyRay, and Metal. At the opening of the day’s events, each was asked to state what they were looking for. Brian Green had simple advice: ‘Stay. On. Beat.’ The judges also offered showcases later in the night, prior to the finals for each category.

The Jam followed a traditional tournament model, with the larger group of contestants first narrowed down to a top 16. Subsequent finals rounds then reduced the competitors down to a final two. Emerging victorious in the 1v1 All Styles was Jay Live, while Retro Flow took home the prize for 2v2 Bboy/Bgirl Breaking.

Amongst hours of formal and informal cyphers, the talented group of competitors performed to near-nonstop beats provided by New York’s DJ SC-One (check out his Soundcloud here). 1v1 All Styles competitors were given 40 seconds of the beat to perform, while 2v2 Breaking had no direct time constraints.

An Escape
Chad Shabazz returned to MC the event, keeping his commentary light, but not forgetting to note the troubling political times: ‘there’s a lot of drama going on in the world. So we gon’ use this time to escape.’ Good humor and passion for breakdancing, it seemed, helped each contestant to do so. In the face of a troublesome weekend, with aliases like AfroPubes and Oh Shit, it became apparent no one was taking themselves too seriously. All that mattered was staying on beat, and doing what you love.

Some contestants were joined by family members, friends, and partners, a strong show of community. Together, it seemed, everyone was able to escape in dance.

For more photos from the event, check out the photo gallery here.

Photos: Chris Velez

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