Glasgow dancer travels to explore social benefits of breakdancing
Published: 19 Feb 2015
Chaz Bonnar is a 22- year old international videographer and dancer from Glasgow. He has recently returned from an eight-week journey through the USA, where he was researching the positive benefits of hip hop and breakdancing for young people from deprived backgrounds.
Starting from New York City, Chaz travelled around Chicago, Seattle, LA, San Diego, Houston and Orlando. Funded by a Churchill Fellowship, he met with influential dancers who have succeeded in marketing themselves as community leaders, and visited social justice organisations and community centres.
Breaking (the proper term for breakdancing) is one element of expression in hip hop culture. Hip hop started out in the Bronx as a way to bring rival gangs together to settle conflicts. Since then, hip hop has spread across the world where many people of different ages, races and cultures can partake in hip hop related events.
One of the most successful community centres Chaz visited was the Hip Hop School of Arts in California. Run by Julio 'Little Cesar' Rivas, an extremely popular dancer from the 80s, the centre is set up for young people to transform their creative energy to help them through their education and other life challenges.
Alongside this, Chaz was also invited to two of the biggest breaking events in the US – Silverback Open Champs (Philadelphia) and Freestyle Session (San Diego). At these events he was able to network and understand the importance of events to inspire growth and positive change within a community.
Chaz has seen the opportunities that hip hop has given America’s youth and is determined to put the lessons he has learned into practice in his home town of Glasgow and across the UK. He observed that dance classes and events, in the USA, are easily accessible and constantly in the public's eye. His goal is to present opportunities for young people to engage in hip hop through education, workshops and dance events. This also includes working through existing social service networks and organising greater provision of affordable dance facilities.
Chaz’s film making and videography work takes him to leading dance events in the UK and Europe, allowing him access to the most prolific dancers in the European hip hop scene, where he has already received encouragement and support for his plans.
Since Chaz's return from his Fellowship he has set up open dance practices around Glasgow. This has encouraged many dancers to exchange and socialise with each other in a positive atmosphere. Along with two of his crew mates, he is also organising an annual summer breaking event in Glasgow called Resurgence.