From street dancer to student choreographer

Tin Nguyen, 24, art and dance major walks towards the stage adjacent to the music building with his “personal funk system” red boom box over his shoulder. He walks up the stairs bends down to plug his boom box in and ‘Battle Cry’ by Nu Jabes begins to play. His body twists and lowers to the floor, spinning around and landing with his hands holding his weight in a ‘freeze’ pose.

“I wasn’t even in the U.S. when I started dancing,” said Nguyen.

Born in Vietnam, Nguyen moved to the United States at the age of 10 to pursue life in a new country and later became influenced by this country’s hip-hop inspired dance called breaking or break dancing.

“When I was a kid I always danced to Michael Jackson, and I saw breaking [break dancing] on the Internet,” said Nguyen

He started break dancing at 18-years-old, while attending college at the University of California, Irvine.

“I didn’t really get a chance to break until I went away for college,” said Nguyen. “One of my dorm-mates started breaking too.”

Nguyen is currently in a B-boy club called Urban Movement that will be performing the spring concert.

“Tin Nguyen is going to be in the spring dance called the prestige this semester,” said Dance Instructor Marian Weiser.

Although Urban Movement has 20 members, a group of 4 or 5 members that were chosen by the dance instructor Marian Weiser will be performing for the spring concert. They have only two weeks to choreograph a dance routine.

“Tin is a really good hip-hop dancer,” said Helgar Birungi, fellow classmate.

Nguyen dances to different genres of music using rap and hip-hop occasionally he uses rock to challenge himself. He practices at home and uses weightlifting, eating healthy and conditioning as ways to keep himself in shape.

“Breaking is about trying to communicate to other people. In dance we have vocabulary in our movements,” said Nguyen. “That’s just how we talk with our bodies, so we can tell a story and certain things we do while dancing are like words to a story.”

Nguyen has injured himself numerous times while break dancing but refuses to ever quit.

“For dancers we really try to connect to the music, this is our story, this is our movement, its like making art but instead of it remaining permanent its like boom, its there and its impermanent but it still exists,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen has total creative control of his dances and choreography.

“It’s very natural in breaking, there’s a way when you battle somebody where you are able to talk to your opponent through you moves,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen prefers to practice his dancing until he is comfortable with his moves.

“In cyphers we share our stories, this is how I express the music, this is how I express the bass line with moving my shoulders or whatever, I’ll hit the freeze on the snares,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen also dances modern dance as well as break dancing at cyphers, which are dance circle.

“Once I got into it, it really wasn’t even a choice. ‘Am I going to go break? Am I going to go b-boy? Yes,’” said Nguyen.