This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Designer by day, 'BBoy' extraordinaire by night, it's how those who know 33-year-old Joshua Perkins might describe him.
Josh is great at his job as lead designer for a recycling company. In fact, he loves it; but his real passion is BBoying or breakdancing, the 1980s dance form he started in high school.
For the past 15 years, Josh has been using the genre to channel his creativity. Now, through his local non-profit, The BBoy Federation, he wants to bring breakdancing back into the 21st century, and give local dancers an opportunity to develop and showcase their skills.
"The Federation's goal is to be an umbrella organization that provides opportunities for non-traditional dancers - people who do not take classes in a studio necessarily, and are not your normal ballet, jazz, tap type of dancer," Josh said.
What he wants for the teens and young adults who work extremely hard to perfect their BBoy and other non-traditional dance skills, is the same level of respect, and the rewards afforded to traditional dancers and even athletes.
"If I played soccer in high school, and I was really good at it, I could get a scholarship, go to college…and continue to use soccer to help further my education. A ballet dancer can do the same," Josh said. "But if you are a BBoy, that opportunity doesn't exist. And so, a lot of the kids start dancing in high school, and end up dropping it in college to focus on academics."
The BBoy Federation is changing this by providing dancers with opportunities to apply their skills professionally through paid performances and competitions. Their dance skills are no longer simply a hobby to be practiced in their spare time, but a way to earn an income by doing something they love.
Some of the dance genres that fall under the Federation's umbrella include hip-hop, house, popping and locking; and reports from kids benefiting from the Federation's efforts tell a story even greater than Josh's vision.
Nineteen-year-old Dario Jokic recalls being a shy, introverted teen who "wasn't really good at anything", that is until he discovered breakdancing at the age of 14, which he credits with helping him to come out of his shell, by providing an outlet to express himself.
"It's my art form," Dario said. "I love the environment I experience when I'm around other breakdancers, and I love the energy I feel after I breakdance," he said.
It's been a similar journey for Dario's peers, many of whom he attests to seeing become more outgoing and confident since joining the Federation and having full access to an outlet that allows them to express themselves.
It's not just about the competition and performances Dario said, but also about the bonding.
"If you work a full time job, or you go to school full time, at the end of the day you come to the Utah Arts Alliance - the BBoy Federation HQ - spend some time with a close friend and enjoy breakdancing," Dario said. "It's almost like meditation, and it's the best feeling after a really hard day."
In addition to local BBoys, the wider community is also benefitting. The Federation participates in afterschool programs, teaching kids dance and positive elements of hip-hop culture. They will also soon commence work with the Sunny Vale Neighborhood Center, teaching refugee kids to dance, a good deed that will prove invaluable to helping them feel welcomed and integrated into their new communities.
For the parent who witnesses the transformation of their child from a that of a withdrawn teen who believes he is good at nothing, to a confident, outgoing child who is traveling the country and representing his state at a national event like Dario has, the benefit of the BBoy Federation is invaluable.
The camaraderie local teens are experiencing through gathering, practicing and performing their 80s dance moves is powerful indeed, since it not only makes for happier teens, but also happier families and happier communities.
To find out more about the BBoy Federation, their work, and how you can contribute to their efforts, please visit: http://www.bboyfed.com .