The Poetry of Breaking

The Poetry of Breaking

July 5th, 2012  |  Published in Artists

Binly Krysada Phounsiri is a freelance model, actor, performer and poet. Before receiving degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, he was a member of the popular San Diego, California Bboy dance crew called The Calamaties.

By Binly Krysada Phounsiri

My given name is Krysada Phounsiri, but many people know me as Binly. It was a name I went by since I was two. My Bboy name or stage name is Lancer/Lance La Rock. I am 24 Years old and my home base is San Diego, California. My father’s family was mainly from Luang Prabang. My mother’s side was mainly from Bokeo. They married in Huay Xai, Bokeo. I was born in Huay Xai, then we immigrated as a family to San Diego. Our first home was in National City, which is part of San Diego county. I was raised in Southeast San Diego, a place where many Lao, Mexican and African American folks lived at the time. From childhood to high school, I grew up in Southeast. To this day it is my true home and where I learned from my community as well as the environment. Southeast was where I was exposed to many lifestyle hardships, but it was also where I initially developed as a dancer and a writer. It was an underresourced area and as a family we all made the best of what we had.

I love Breaking. The Bboy lifestyle is something that I love deeply. Music is my biggest inspiration for learning about myself in this dance. My crew (The Calamaties) and I train vigorously; always looking for creative ways to improve our dancing whether it’s on the technical/athletic aspect or the artistic. The key to this dance called Breaking is the cypher. The circles where people get down and express themselves through dancing is called the cypher. Battles are also a vital point of my experience with this dance. Breaking is a very confrontational dance. You are dancing to express yourself, your story, your beliefs and what you like. Some people might or might not like those things and they challenge you to see who’s better. Competitions are being done around the world to see who’s the better Bboy / Bgirl or who’s the better crew. It is a communication of fighting through dance, but that communication connects people as well. I live in this dance to battle and to cypher. Performing, as much as I do it, is not always my main focus. I perform with the same purpose of any art form I pursue, to inspire and to tell my story, make it timeless. It is such a gratifying feeling to see someone, who has no understanding of breaking or no understanding of its history, give love and enjoy this art form when I perform it. To me, it is exactly like the feeling of a song that you like. The music we love in our lives make us feel a certain way. The music we love brings back memories and makes us ponder about many sentiments from depressing to enlightening. The music we love inspires us, I hope that many dancing can do the same for people.

I performed numerous dance performances for numerous events ranging from Company Gigs to Southeast Asian Student Coalition benefit concerts. My biggest line of professional dancing was when I worked with The Jabbawockeez MUS.I.C show in Las Vegas. I was a cast member in the MUS.I.C show but was NOT a member of Jabbawockeez crew. That distinction has to be known because it leads to a lot of speculation and I want to make it clear that I am not part of their crew. The experience was amazing; performing nightly for crowds from all over the world who pay to watch us dance. Dancing there definitely is something I will carry with me.

I have enjoyed winning many battles, traveling with my crew, and performing at the many places that we do. We compete a lot and have a busy schedule throughout the year that consist of practice, hitting up the Dance events and making an impact every time we venture out. One of the best moments I had ever was in my hometown. I participated in a tournament called Red Bull BC One Cyphers. It was a San Diego qualifier to get into the National Qualifier and whoever wins the National one gets to battled in the Red Bull BC One International Solo Competition. It is one of my dreams to hit the big battle stages. This was my chance, and although I fell short (lost in the Semi-Finals), I was happy to represent in front of my hometown where I had not been in a while, because I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area and Las Vegas. Some videos of my performances are below:

I attended the University of California Berkeley, graduating with a double major in Physics and Astrophysics. I minored in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry. UC Berkeley was a learning journey for me, which I engaged in everyday. I actively practiced and studied what I wanted to study. In sciences, I continued to challenge myself despite my poor performance on tests. In the humanities department like Asian American Studies, Southeast Asian studies, Poetry and Ethnic Studies, I wrote research papers with much enthusiasm.

Sets of knowledge are valuable, but it was truly gratifying to learn about the history and struggles of my people and community. This is why I found myself somehow becoming the President of The Laotian American Student Representatives (LASR). I wanted to participate and be an active member of the club. By the end of my Sophomore year, they needed more officers and someone to be President, so I along with another student stepped to the plate. It was then that I realized how small of a group we were. You see, LASR was one of the many Southeast Asian Student Organizations that existed in Berkeley. The beauty of so many organizations meant that we as a group were more visible than before, but this meant there were many groups with small students as active members. I probably knew every ethnic Lao person at Berkeley through the course of my four years at the University. The total of which I could count with my fingers. It was funny, but it was truly sad because it made me think about the Lao community back in San Diego and how I saw none of that in a University setting. As a matter of fact, I was a minority within a minority because the schools I went to even before college did not have many Lao American students. I was probably one of two from Elementary school to High School. The other one or two would probably be my sister or my brother or one or two friends. Taking part in LASR motivated me to increase visibility as well as to make a strong support group for the members of the club. When they had their problems whether it be social, academic, or student political, I hoped to be a strong helping hand through out the experience.

Berkeley allowed me to try so many things I never had to much thought in mind about. This included Gymnastics, Argentine Tango, Indian Dancing, organizing cultural events, reading at different spaces and communities, venturing to Oakland to learn Boxing and Muay Thai, and many more. The friends that I made there, the skills that I can take from learning at the University is something I am thankful for. It just sucks it comes with a price tag, one that I am currently paying back (student loans). I have no regrets choosing Berkeley as my four year University. It is the people that I met and the spirit of the environment that inspired me and keep me going. While at Berkeley, I was part of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program. I became a student teacher poet and was responsible for teaching and workshopping poems to high school students as well as Berkeley students who were taking the class. I ran a workshop group within the class and was in charge of a few lectures as well as grading the students in my discussion group. With that experience of studying poetry, writing poetry, and learning/applying the teachings of poetry, I did a lot of Berkeley events with open mics, talent showcases, and especially cultural events. I also had the opportunity to read in San Diego at events like One Book One San Diego under KPBS and at high school assemblies.

After college I worked as a Manufacturing Technician at a BioTech company. I worked as a laser/optics technician, who built, tested, and aligned DNA sequencing machines to be research and customer ready. A lot of alignment, testing, and assembly was required. A lot of scientific and manufacturing documenting was required as well. It was a difficult but very fun job to do. As a student, I invested my time in everything I wanted to do. I have a double major in Physics and Astrophysics but there are so many things I would like to do. I want to find a job in some technical field but my lack of experience leaves me in a bind. It’s a weird cycle of trying to obtain experience but companies not wanting to risk their time with you so you can gain work experience.

I want to publish a book of my poetry and have been working towards that for a while. I have been in successful in publishing a few poems in anthologies and educational journals, but not a full book yet. I am currently working on artistic modeling, freelance photography and video. But, I will always be dancing. It would be lovely to have that true dream job where I am actually dancing the way I want, competing, traveling the world, and teaching whatever knowledge I have to the folks around the world. If that can be my job, I would do whatever I can to make that happen. It feels great to inspire someone or motivate them to express their story whether it’s with their body, their words or any other medium.

For more information about future performances and projects please contact Binly Krysada Phounsiri directly.