Over 11 thousand kilometres separate New York and Kampala. In many ways, the two cities couldn’t be more different. But they do share one common interest: breakdancing.
Breakdance originated in the boroughs of New York City in the late 1970s. But a few decades later, it has found a new audience in the Ugandan capital.
In 2006, Abraham “Abramz” Tekya set up Project Breakdance Uganda, an initiative designed to bring b-boy culture to the youth of Kampala. Alongside a staff of teachers, Abramz stages three breakdance workshops a week, with the doors open to anyone who wants to learn. For Abramz, the vision is to uplift the city’s young people. Because as he sees it: “Dance is therapy".
It’s an inspiring mission and one that is captured in Bouncing Cats, a 70-minute documentary from Red Bull TV that you can watch below.
In Bouncing Cats, we get to see how meaningful breakdance is becoming to Uganda’s youth, and how it’s been a force for good in the African nation. “A lot of us grew up being called ‘disadvantaged kids’; so this is our pride,” Abramz explains. “This is something they can own, something that nobody can take away from them.’
Abramz’ own path into breakdance came out of hardship. He had lost both his parents by the age of 8 and found comfort watching hip-hop videos from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Run DMC.
“The treasure I had was art: I used to dance, I used to rap, I used to draw,” Abramz says. “Hip-hop was all I had and it played a very big role in my life. That’s why I want to share it with other people.”
To help him on his mission of spreading breakdance to the people of Kampala, one of breakdance’s pioneers flies out to Uganda to help him -- a journey documented in Bouncing Cats.
Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon is one of breakdance’s most legendary figures. He was an original member of the famous Rock Steady Crew since its formation in 1979 and remains its president today. Back in the 1980s, Abramz used to watch videos of Crazy Legs b-boying on the streets of The South Bronx.
But as Crazy Legs sees it, he and Abramz aren’t that different after all.
Anything I wanted to do — boxing, baseball — it cost money. But [breakdancing was free].”
“The South Bronx at that time could have been a third world country,” he tells Abramz in Bouncing Cats. “That’s what we have in common — we all come out of shitty conditions, we grew up poor and this didn’t cost money to do. Anything I wanted to do — boxing, baseball — it cost money. But this [was free].”
To see Abramz’s inspiring journey to bring the magic of breakdance to Uganda, get stuck into Bouncing Cats now.