UI Breakers ready to wreck


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Tucked away on the upper deck of the UI Field House is a room emanating hip-hop. Eleven guys and women are spread throughout the room — some against the walls, some stretching. Each one breaks into the middle of the room, some in a series of complex maneuvers, some just learning.

It’s 9 p.m., and the UI Breakers has been at it for the past two hours, prepping for its second jam, “I Oughta Wreck Again!,” Saturday in the IMU second-floor ballroom. The event starts at 6 p.m. and costs $3 for students, $5 for nonstudents.

Last year’s jam, “I Oughta Wreck Amazing,” was a learning process for cofounder Charlie Bui: The Breakers’ first event caused headaches and anxiety over scheduling. However, the contest ended up as a success and created buzz for the group.

“We got a lot of good feedback last year,” he said. “We built a little credibility, and people went home surprised that Iowa had a hip-hop scene.”

More crews from the same locations that competed last year — Chicago, Milwaukee, and other Midwestern cities — have expressed interest in participating again.

“[Last year’s jam] was a big success for what we were after,” cofounder Chuy Renteria said. “Everything that we wanted to happen, happened.”

After that success, Bui said, he doesn’t feel the same nervousness about the execution of this weekend’s jam.

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“I’m a lot less anxious,” he said. “The organizing process has been a lot more streamlined, and we know now that it’s not a bad idea to start planning a year ahead of time.”

In the past year, the Breakers has seen growth in interest and numbers, thanks to recruitment efforts and word of mouth.

“This year, we’ve had the most newbies that I’ve ever experienced,” Renteria said.

A UI dance major, he has taught dance classes in many different venues and class structures.

“With super-structured classes, you kind of realize that everyone starts looking like each other,” he said. “What we do here — the way that we teach — fosters creative, original movements.”

Besides teaching newcomers, the jam, and a smattering of performances throughout the year, Bui and Renteria deal with growing pains. Renteria will graduate in December and Bui in 2011. Both are unsure about the future.

“The leadership is starting to change,” Bui said. “We don’t really know what is going to happen in three or four years, when all of the original Breaker [members] are gone.”

But Bui and Renteria are hopeful that their group of three, which includes cofounder Hai Tran, will inspire future Breaker leadership after they are gone.

“Breaking is a really rewarding hobby,” Bui said. “It gives you a big sense of accomplishment. It can be really frustrating, but it’s a long journey and process. [Future leaders] are just going to need to find the right people who understand that.”

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