With the 2018 Red Bull BC One World Finals competition just around the corner we asked the five selected judges, Tuff Kid, Wicket, Taisuke, Junior and Benny, a few questions to find out what they'll be judging the B-Boys and B-Girls on when they step out to battle on that world final's stage.
1) What are the most important things that you look for when judging?
The completeness of the B-Boy or B-Girl. For me completeness is bringing all the elements of breaking together in an artistic way. Sometimes you can do something artistic, but it doesn't always work at that specific moment. It could still feel good for you in your body, but it just doesn't work on that specific platform at that moment. This is very, very important for me, so you get the feeling of what the dancer is actually trying to tell you. You have to think about the platform you're on.
Connection to the music, freestyle, execution, power moves with rhythm, footwork, the FOWNK, character, battle mentality, aggression, and professionalism.
I look for mostly everything, but since Red Bull BC One is a high-level battle from the beginning, I especially look at the foundation and how the finalists 'feel' the music.
I look for dancers who have the control of their techniques. They can be footworkers or power movers, they have to be the master of their moves. Our dance is a mix of art and sport, so for me it's also very important to feel something by seeing someone dancing. Execution is not enough, when someone puts his soul into his dance he's more than an athlete, he's an artist.
Creativity, technique, style, musicality, power moves, footwork, tricks, top rock, flow, difficulty.
2) What are the top-3 thing that, for you, causes someone to lose a battle?
1. When you're really not yourself. You can see this in the first few seconds and you can feel it.
2. Any particular artistic movement that's not from the fundamental breaking style. It could feel good in practice, but doesn't work in that battle.
3. If you're not prepared, like you underestimate the whole platform of Red Bull BC One. Some people make the mistake of just saying, 'I do me and am representing myself,' without knowing actually if you're conscious about what you're stepping into.
2. No eye contact.
3. No rhythm.
1. Musicality (lack of).
1. When someone doesn't care about the music at all. For me when the DJ plays his music we all should be submerged by the energy, the atmosphere, the vibe of this music. If someone is out of it, they're definitely out!
2. When someone comes only to recite his set without feeling, without taking care of his opponent and obvious musical accents. I can understand that nowadays it's harder to win a battle without preparing sets, but if we know our set we should be able to adapt it according to the situation of the moment.
3. Too much biting. You can get inspired from someone, but if you only copy their moves or style without putting your personality on them, for me you don't deserve to win any battle.
2. Not being all-rounded.
3. Physical contact or showing no respect.
3) Do you judge round-for-round (who won more rounds) or another way?
Yes, I judge round-for-round, but I also reflect on the whole battle and think about how I actually feel about this. You can burn with one round and kill it and then the other round is just kind of okay. Sometimes you just have to be careful judging just round-by-round because you also have to see the whole picture, just to reflect, for yourself.
When judging events I create a board of points and quick notes about each battle. I stay locked in the moment and go with who captures the vibe, performing a true genuine connection between the competitor and the music. Each round is judged by quickly writing down notes like 'M' for musicality, 'CR' for crash, 'R' for repeat, 'P' for power, and so on. And the score is recorded from 1 to 10.
Yes, I usually judge per round, but if it's a tie I'd look at the constitution of the whole round.
Yes, I judge round-for-round. If it's too close I will decide by looking at different elements, like:
What did each B-Boy make me feel with their dance?
How far were they in battle mode?
Did they take risks?
Normally round-for-round, but sometimes it can be different.
4) Do you believe in ties?
I don't usually do ties, but it's like judging art, sometimes you look at a piece and you feel something or you don't. You can speak with that and go for your feeling. I try to make a decision.
I don't believe in ties.
Yes, because for Red Bull BC One every B-Boy has high skills from the beginning.
For me there are no ties, but situations in which judges haven't been able to do their job.
No misunderstanding, I can say that judging is not an easy deal and I'm not saying that I don't or will never make a tie decision, but we shouldn't be allowed to do it even more in such important events like Red Bull BC One, because it's not fair for the participants who'll have to use more moves. And normally there should always be something to make us vote for one dancer or another.
Yes, I believe in ties because sometimes both breakers bring a perfect solo on the highest level, so they have to prove in another round who still can bring the real shit, or who has more different dope stuff on the highest level, and the physical power to really win.
5) Is it important for you to see a dancer do something you haven't seen before?
Of course, it's very important. That makes everything about breaking so individual and special. That makes an art form. I'm always happy to see new shit that surprises me; that's what I'm looking for as well, stuff I've never seen before. But also, like I said before, I have to go back to that other question – it has to really work, man, at that moment. It's very important that you're conscious of which platform you're on.
Most definitely. It's important that the competitor shows us what he or she has been preparing for. Show us that you're unique and in control with confidence. Transitions, power moves, detail, creativity, concepts, freezes, comedy, dynamics and flow in both directions. These are some ways to channel originality.
Yes, when I judge, originality is a big point and it's always cool to see something new.
Yes, for me originality is very important for several reasons:
First of all it makes the difference between someone who takes from a culture and someone who gives to it. Plus, I think originality is as important as foundation, to make our dance grow.
Yes of course! Creativity and individual skills are one of the most important things, as long as it's really dope.
6) Do you have any advice that you'd like to give to the competitors that you'll be judging at the World Finals?
You should be in shape right now, like 100 percent. Do you have fun and share your art form.
You have to say, 'I gave everything I had'. After the competition it doesn't matter if you win or lose, you never lose, you win or you learn. It's about to try 100 percent and have fun.
It's completely okay to be nervous. Use that energy as fuel when you create. Make eye contact, let your opponent know that this is a BATTLE. Dance, execute, show us how dynamic you are, show us what you've been practicing your life for. Most importantly, this is an opportunity to inspire a new generation. So I believe it's already a win to be on the highest platform of competition, the Red Bull BC One World Finals. What a bonus it would be to win on top of that.
Think how you can take the battle towards your opponent on the big stage. Make sure all rounds are focused on the opponent, including the freeze, this is also an important point.
Give your best from the beginning till the end! Don't save it for the next round because it could never happen. Try to catch the present moment.
Just surprise and impress me! Every B-Boy knows on which level they have to battle at Red Bull BC One, so just don't try to fake it.
We would like to thank the judges for giving an insight into their way of judging and we hope to catch up with them after the battles for a little bit of feedback on the overall competition.
In case you are not familiar with this year's judges. Here are the hard facts:
Tuff Kid, from Switzerland, has been breaking since 1993, judging since 2001/2002, and judged the very first Red Bull BC One World Finals, in 2004, in Switzerland.
Wicket, from USA, has been breaking since 1993, judging since 1998, and judged the 2016 Red Bull BC One World Finals in Japan.
Taisuke, from Japan, has been breaking since 1998, judging since he was in middle school, and judged the 2012 Red Bull BC One World Finals in Brazil.
Junior, from France, has been breaking for 22 years, been judging big events for about 15 years, and judged the 2006 Red Bull BC One World Finals in Brazil.
Benny, from Germany, has been breaking since 1995, judging for about 20 years, and also judged the first Red Bull BC One.
(Interview by Emmanuel Adelekun)