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Breakdancing group Aerial Tactic finds future through dancing

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Through practicing as a group at Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities and doing live performances, the boys of Aerial Tactic are getting out of their houses and staying active.
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Members of Aerial Tactic clockwise: Ignacio, Carlos, Antonio, Daniel, Noe and Edgar

Members of Aerial Tactic clockwise: Ignacio, Carlos, Antonio, Daniel, Noe and Edgar /Whitney Pavlica

Carlos smiles in the middle of a move.

Carlos smiles in the middle of a move. /Whitney Pavlica

Ignacio holds a move for as long as he can.

Ignacio holds a move for as long as he can. /Whitney Pavlica

Aerial Tactic is a breakdancing group of boys from Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities’ Cook Arts Center. The boys' school levels range from fifth grade to freshman year of high school. Since forming, the boys have performed in Detroit, Kalamazoo and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids. Breakdancing has gotten the boys out of their houses and into a more active lifestyle.

“At first it didn’t appeal to me,” says Antonio. “Then my dad kind of forced me into it, and I ended up developing a love for breakdancing.”

Before the group became Aerial Tactic, it began as a smaller group named Zero Gravity with original members Ignacio, Antonio and Carlos. As more members joined they decided to change their name to Aerial Tactic. The group, Aerial Tactic, has been together for around a year.

The boys enjoy breakdancing for different reasons.

“Breakdancing is a way to express yourself freely,” says Ignacio.

“The best part of breakdancing is hanging out with each other,” says Carlos.

Antonio loves the feeling of performing. “The best part of breakdancing is the adrenaline, how you feel when you’re performing,” he says.

The boys reach a consensus about how breakdancing has changed their lives. Before breakdancing many of them stayed inside all day, playing video games or on the internet.

“Breaking changed my life because I used to be a lazy kid, but now I’ve got breaking. I’m not a lazy kid anymore and it’s really fun,” says Edgar.

“All of us just started as normal kids, just being in the house playing video games all the time. We used to be those kids that always stayed at home playing video games, doing nothing, eating food. But now we’re more active, going to places and traveling,” says Antonio.

Daniel is the youngest of the group at the fifth grade level. For him, breakdancing has been a positive change in his life.

“When I was at home I didn’t think about having a good future. Now that I’m here, I’m thinking about my future. Because when I was at home, I would just play video games and I didn’t move that much. I didn’t know how to do much math problems or school work. With breaking, I have a brighter future,” he says.

The group is coached by fellow breaker, Brian Urbane, who has been dancing for a little over four years. He and his dance crew own 616Syx Teknique Street Dance Academy, a breakdancing studio that the boys go to once in a while.

“I started teaching at the Cook Arts Center and then after teaching for around two years, we decided to put the kids together in an actual crew,” says Urbane.

Urbane also sees the importance of breakdancing in the boys’ lives.

“Breaking has had an impact on their lives. It goes with their school work, it goes with everything, because they know they have to excel in everything else to be able to break. It keeps them together, it keeps them focused, gives them a positive outlook and it's something they can do that's very constructive,” says Urbane.

In order to be able to breakdance, the boys have to earn good grades in school and stay out of trouble.

“They have to have A's and B's- no C's. They've got to keep their grades up, just like it would be for a sports team. If they ever get in trouble doing something they're not supposed to do, they get punishment, like not being able to perform or go to competitions. They work hard. They're good kids,” says Urbane.

Breakdancing has formed the boys into a close-knit group of friends.

“We’ve all bonded into a big family,” says Antonio. “That bond just keeps growing stronger and stronger.”

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