European Spotlight: Airman Jose Rodriguez
Details: Rodriguez began break dancing at 15 while growing up in Kissimmee. He belongs to a German “all-star” break-dancing team that has performed in competitions across Europe, where the top prizes can reach 70,000 euros. He also teaches break dancing to children in the Kaiserslautern, Germany area.
How did you get involved in break dancing?Basically, it was an easy thing to get into. My neighbor did it. My cousins did it. That’s basically all your friends, your neighbors and cousins in those kind of neighborhoods. And it didn’t cost nothing. Just get some sweatpants and some music and that’s how we got into it. And later down the road it became easier to make our own money because we did it in Disney [WORLD]one time just having fun. And then some guy picked us up, and then we started doing shows for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, kids with incurable diseases and the little camps they have for them. Those were fun. So I did it as a part-time job in high school.
So is break dancing experiencing a resurgence?Break dancing never left, basically. Break dancing hit the big screen for the movies and stuff back in the ’70s and ’80s. But it never really went anywhere. You either had to be in the circle or know somebody in the circle to find out where it is. But I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot more love for it in European countries and everywhere besides the States. Their governments sponsor you. Like for the competition I did, the government gave us the money to go to the competition.
There are teams?We have an inter-city group, which is called Kingsize Crew. And, basically, that’s everybody together. That’s a family. That’s not really a competitive unit. It’s more like everybody’s together. We practice together and that’s where the youth center comes into play. But I compete with this competitive all-star group in Germany. It’s called Style Crax. And that’s where we go internationally. We’ve been to Switzerland. We’ve been to Korea … This stuff is really big.
You mentioned break dancing movies. What is your favorite?None of them.
They’re all bad?Uh-huh. And produce an image that’s so beyond what’s real. It’s not even funny. I mean, what’s the latest one, “You’ve Got Served”? I’m like, “God.” I’ve never been in the ring dancing. I don’t do that.
Do you have someone you look up to or try to emulate?Yeah, actually there’s guy named Benji. Just like the dog, Benji. He’s actually out of France. And, basically, he’s more like my style. Like my style is more, how do I say it, flexible and inventive — more than the normal break dancer you’ll see. I do a lot of flexible freezes and moves and a lot of flips that end up at the flexible positions. He’s basically like me times 10.
Interview conducted by Scott Schonauer in Ramstein, Germany.Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: email@example.com
Jose RodriguezAge: 22
Title: Break Dancer
(Day job: Combat correspondent, 435th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. In the Air Force since 2004.)
Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.