Last week, Rapzilla chatted with dancer OPM about his career history. In the last article, we traveled down memory lane with the renowned professional dancer. Today, we are going to look at dance battle in general, talk about OPM’s personal strategies, and how dance battling relates to rap battling.
The genre is growing, OPM explained. Today, there are more opportunities world-wide than there used to be when all there was were “local jams” OPM said. While some corporations have exploited dance for their own profit, there are others that respect dancers and promote the culture in a positive light. One of these is Red Bull, which hosts what is now in OPM’s opinion the most prominent dance battle competition in the world, the Dance Your Style. While they have done smaller events in the past 10 years, this competition only started in 2019.
“Dancers, especially in the battle culture, are getting more respect I would say, especially with help of Red Bull and different corporations of that nature that are honing in on dance in the right light. You do have some corporations that don’t hone in on it in the right light. They just want to exploit us. Red Bull really takes care of us. They treat us like artists,” OPM said.
While dance has expanded and positively reinforced, there is a dark side to this genre.
“There’s a lot of spiritual warfare in the dance scene that you wouldn’t expect to see.”
To heighten their abilities, OPM said dancers may use drugs, thinking they perform better under the influence. Others channel demons or spirits while they dance.
“That’s why I find it very important to fast and pray before these events because I have to be spiritually ready before I could ever be ready physically. I always take to Ephesians 6:12,” OPM said. “It’s spiritual warfare at its finest.”
Dance Battle vs Battle rap
To OPM, the two competitive genre’s go “hand-in-hand.” Both require set-ups and punchlines. Preparation is similar in both. Some battlers memorize half their moves and freestyle the other, while others, like OPM just freestyle during their entire competition. Rebuttals and doing an opponent’s move better are important in competitions. Battle rap can also be well utilized in battle dance.
In OPM’s first YouTube video, which you can learn more about here, you can see that he performs an awkward looking move by maneuvering his arms behind his head and body. By analyzing more of his videos, you can see OPM utilizes these bizarre behind the back gestures in many battles and visuals. This type of dance is called bone-breaking, which can be learned OPM explained, by increasing the flexibility in the arms through stretches and practice. While OPM said he does utilize this often, he would not consider this a signature move. Some dancers do have signature moves that they will utilize often. For OPM, however, he also wants to keep creating moves and never become stagnate.
“Of course, I’ll have those certain things I’ll do that will always be there, but I try to create new things every time. I’m a firm believer in progression,” OPM said. “Even if I did have a signature move, I wouldn’t be too stuck on it. I’ll remix it in a way that it looks different every time.”
On the broader topic of personal style, OPM said that he pulls from his life experiences because of the confidence. For example, OPM trained at a dance academy from ages 13 to 18. The academy was for more contemporary dancing; he was the only freestyle/ battle dancer who attended. After all that experience, OPM explains that he will at times dance to a slow song, something that other dancers in the genre have trouble communicating through due to the type of emotion.
“It’s all about what the artist feels they relate to the most and what brings them to that point where they feel confident in expressing in what they create.”
What did you think about OPM’s opinion and experience in dance battling? What have you seen in the culture? Comment below on your thoughts!