Last One Stands is undeniably one of the biggest street dance festivals in North America. It is the product of the ambitious vision of Vancouver’s premier street dancers, Locking Kuan and Abe Chen, and has succeeded in making Vancouver one of the street dance capitals of the wold. It hosts the highest caliber of talent in a theatre setting that’s comfortable for spectators and performers. Last One Stands is not only growing the local dance scene, but is putting Vancouver dancers on a global map.
Christine Kim caught up with locking competitor, Robin Tjay, who shared his insight into the world of street dance and his preparations for competing at Last One Stands.
Christine: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Robin: My name is Robin Tjay (pronnounced chai) a.k.a. Boogie Bonez, representing the Vancity Lockers. We are a Vancouver dance crew whose focus is locking, that seeks to establish and expand the locking scene in the city.
I found locking about 5 or 6 years ago when I saw a video of a locking battle in France. That was the moment when I thought to myself: “That’s what I want to do.” It started out with me practicing on my own, researching the moves in locking and applying it in my dance, so I was mostly a self taught dancer until I moved to Vancouver. It was here when I started to take classes from Kim Sato (the leader/big sister of our crew) and learn more skills from exchanges with my crew mates. They are the people who have helped to push me forward by giving me a lot of feedback and advice.
C: Who or what do you credit for inspiring you to dance competitively?
R: In terms of entering competition, my biggest motivation was to meet other great dancers doing the same style. Thus, I don’t have any one person to credit. However, if i were to name some of the dancers who keep me on my edge and who I’d like to have an exchange with, they would be GoGo Brothers from Japan, P. Lock from France, and Dennis Infante from the Bay Area.
C: Why is LOS such a big deal for you personally? How big of a deal is it for you to be representing Vancouver, and your crew?
R: Last One Stands is Vancouver’s biggest dance competition and one that gives Vancouver a platform to showcase the city’s talents to out-of-town and out-of-country guests. So how big of a deal is it? It’s a big one but more than that it’s an honour to be able to represent my city and my crew. To add to that, this competition is an event where I can evaluate my progress as a dancer from the training that I have put in leading up to it.
C: Like Olympians and MMA fighters, LOS dancers will be preparing for their upcoming battles. How big is the mental preparation for you?
R: Mental preparation is always the most important preparation for me because this is where the battle begins. If my mind is clouded with having to reach a certain stage of the competition or to prove something, this is adding unnecessary stress and pressure.
C: Which competitor are you looking forward to battle against?
R: I am looking forward to battling Boombeast (video below) and Waackeisha. The energy that they have will definitely be amazing to feel and I think it’ll be a fun exchange.
C: Some elite athletes claim that in the midst of their sport, everything slows down, and they get a kind of focus that even removes fans cheering from their vision and hearing. How would you describe the high of being in a dance competition?
R: It’s a joyful feeling when you are one with the music. Time, the audience, the judge, the competitor, all disappear and there is only you and the music.