61Syx Teknique shows off moves in Russell House
When most people think of hip-hop and break dancing, their minds may be filled with images of MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew" and popular artists like Wiz Khalifa and Waka Flocka Flame. The members of dance crew 61Syx Teknique taught USC students that hip-hop is quite separate from those entities by traveling back in time to explore the roots of hip-hop culture.
61Syx Teknique formed while the group's members were high school students in Grand Rapids, Mich. After the members finished high school, the group continued to evolve. According to member Raze1, the group consists of 16 members as an extended family. Five members performed at USC Monday night, along with a friend who doesn't typically tour with the group.
The group's show consisted of routines and music representative of the history of hip-hop and breaking. The evening started with small solo performances by all five members. The dancers, who put on denim vests for additional authenticity, brought up several students to help them form a 1970s style "Soul Train" line. Students joined 61Syx crew members in showing off their best moves for the audience. 61Syx members then changed into red track suit jackets and baseball hats to take the audience back to the 1980s. The '80s medley featured a fitting tribute to Michael Jackson including "Beat It" and "Billie Jean."
61Syx then changed into plain white T-shirts to give audiences a taste of '90s hip-hop dancing to songs including the New Kids on the Block hit "(You've Got It) The Right Stuff" and MC Hammer's classic "U Can't Touch This".
61Syx members Raze1 and B-Boy Seoul spoke to the audience about the four elements of hip-hop: emcee, graffiti, DJing and B-boying.
"The fifth element of hip-hop is knowledge," Raze1 said.
The members brought up their friend for a three-on-three B-boy battle. The crowd chose the team of Raze1, B-Boy Seoul and 61Syx member Vertchu as winners of the battle.
Three USC student B-boys joined 61Syx in freestyling before the crew closed the show with a routine to LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."
Second-year pre-pharmacy student Phu Nguyen was one of the three students who freestyled with 61Syx.
"I've been [breaking] for three years on and off," Nguyen said. "Dance is for everyone."
Raze1 said real hip-hop culture is nothing like what is depicted in movies or on television.
"In my opinion, [pop culture's take on hip-hop] is a joke," Raze1 said. "It's not just spinning on your head."
Raze1 feels that negative outlooks of hip-hop are fed to society by pop culture and it's a struggle to get audiences to see what's underneath.
"Our goal is to change people's minds," Raze1 said. "Hip-hop is a positive thing. It changed our lives."
61Syx's performance in the Russell House Ballroom Monday night was sponsored by Carolina Productions. Carolina Productions' Special Programs Director Kallie Linsberg, a second-year sport and entertainment management student, said she first saw the group at last year's National Association for Campus Activities conference.
"I wanted to bring dancers like what you see in music videos," Linsberg said. "Personality-wise, these guys are great."
After the group's performance, Raze1 led a workshop on the basics of breaking, including footwork ("dancing on the ground") and top rock ("dance up on your feet").
The workshop was focused at a basic level, "nothing too crazy because we don't want anyone to get hurt," Raze1 said.