Hip-Hopping to Greater Heights
Only at the tender age of 24 years old, Alex Chan, also known as A.C., has dominated the Singapore street dance scene with countless wins
Story by Naomi Francine Alex
Photos by Avril Sindhu
Like most dancers, Alex came from humble beginnings. He was stiff and had little knowledge of dance due to his martial arts background. To top it off, Alex started with Popping.
It was not till he started dancing Hip- hop did Alex feel more comfortable.
Hip-hop was more flexible and it required more usage of the body. How- ever, even with his wins today, Alex did admit to having difficulties adapting to the style.
“I like the sense of freedom of move- ment when it comes to Hip-hop. It can be rhythmic and there are no wrong moves or angles ‘cause it is freestyle,” says Alex Chan.
Alex loves dancing Hip-hop because there is no specific technique that has to be maintained. He felt that Hip-hop was the freest movement for him.
Ever since he started in his teenage years, Alex has won battles such as, ‘KO Night Popping 2008’, ‘Floor the Love Waacking Category 2011’, ‘Get Down open category volume 7’, ‘Pop in Progress 2014: chapter 3 champion’ and many more.
From his wins, it is not a surprise that Alex is versatile in the different street dance genres such as Waacking and Locking but at the end of the day, he always goes back to his roots, Hip-hop.
His love for music was always Hip-hop and even though he started off with Popping, he still loved Hip-hop music more as compared to Popping music.
He tried dancing Popping to Hip-hop music but it never felt right for him.
Alex was tuning in to hits from Usher, Akon and the Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. It was only when he finally started Hip-hop did he real-
ise how each move and step taken brought out the music, instruments and lyrics that he was listening to.
His journey as a dancer in the street dance culture was good but tedious with a lot of ups-and-downs. However, as Alex looks back and reflects, he feels contented. Hip-hop has changed Alex and taught him to appreciate himself more.
When he was younger, Alex placed
a lot of pressure on himself and was always thinking he could have done better. He felt that his dancing was never enough, confusing and depress- ing, but dance was an addiction he could not stop.
Out of all the street dance styles, Hip-hop has the biggest community and support. However, even with the numbers of the community growing rapidly, it is a genre that is the most splintered in it.
The first is the choreography side of Hip-hop where everything is planned out and dancers are referred to as “studio dancers”. Studio dancers are termed as dancers who only dance when they are in a dance studio. This
is also better known as urban chore- ography. The other side of Hip-hop is
free styling. Free styling focuses on the spontaneous creative charac- teristics of the dance that can be churned out by the dancer.
In Hip-hop, many dancers do it in different ways. Some dancers love old-school Hip-hop, where they dance freely to old Hip-hop music. There are also dancers who are in middle school Hip-hop and the latest, new school Hip-hop.
However, how Hip-hop is interpreted is not only from the different styles but countries as well. How Hip-hop is danced in New York and Los Angeles is very different. How Korean, Japanese, German and French Hip-hop dancers dance are worlds apart as well. This brings up a lot of different ideologies of Hip-hop and what it truly is.
Alex is contented with the Hip-hop scene in Singapore because more dancers are starting at different and younger ages. He also believes that knowledge is now freer and easier to reach with more classes and performance platforms being provided.
However with the ease of avenues, Alex believes it is a double-edged sword. In his time, dancers experimented their moves and style themselves. This built their individuality and hunger. It also molds each dancer’s self-appreciation but today, a lot of dancers idolise and aim to be like someone else.
Alex does not see a career in dance due to the amount of money and time needed. It does not help that the living expenses in Singapore is too high as well. To Alex, he feels that it is difficult to carve out a living doing street dance unless you intend on making a career out of classi- cal dance or commercial dance.
“In the street dance culture, it is all about getting gigs and earning respect,” says Alex
Alex’s goal is to dance till the day he dies. He believes that with positive energy you will have better mental stability. With such a stable mindset, dancers will then be able to work on their dance and body.