Cypher culture hits the Kootenays

Visiting dance group Project Soul inspired kids to unleash inner breakdancer

Cypher culture hits the Kootenays



It’s scary to dance in front of people.

That’s something Nelson dance instructor Amber Santos knows better than anyone, and that’s why she couldn’t be happier about how things went down with visiting Vancouver dance group Project Soul this weekend.

“We’ve been working with this cypher concept, which is a huge part of hip hop culture. It’s the core of breakdancing,” Santos told the Star.

“It’s a way to practise your moves and bring new elements to your freestyle. It’s a really distilled place of energy because everyone is a part of it.”

And when Project Soul started a cypher circle at the youth centre on Sunday afternoon, it turned out there were plenty of Nelson youngsters ready to bust a move. Meanwhile they enjoyed beats from local performers Erica Dee and Fluxo.

“It’s not about doing a cool trick, though, it’s about doing your dance and connecting with people. It’s a way to show who you are, that you’re alive, and it’s very raw.”

The Sunday afternoon dance-off was part of a weekend-long series of events that saw the troupe, led by choreographer Kim Sato, host events and perform in Trail, Rossland and Nelson as part of Oxygen Art Centre’s third annual Youth Arts Festival.

And Project Soul were encouraging leaders.

“They created moments where it was easy for the kids to dance, maybe four steps in and four steps out, so it was really accessible. These are the finest dancers you can imagine, super talented and hard-working, but they made it completely accessible.”

And it’s inspired Santos to hold similar youth centre events in the future.

“The youth centre has been a key piece for us to grow hip hop culture in Nelson. It’s a place where you can practise your culture in the town you’re in, and if we had more support from city hall and the youth centre was more valued we could do way more.”

Video and photos by Bill Metcalfe