Flexing, also called Bone Breaking, is a style of street dance from Brooklyn, New York that is characterized by rhythmic contortionist movement combined with waving, tutting, floor moves, and gliding. Flex dancers, referred to as flexers, often perform shirtless and incorporate hat tricks in their performance for showmanship.
Before flexing gained mainstream exposure it was featured as early as 1992 on a local television show in New York City called 'Flex N Brooklyn’. The dance is primarily performed to a mix of dancehall, reggae, and "...a chopped-up instrumental called the 'Volume' riddim". According to Pitchfork.com, the producers of this new genre refer to it as FDM (Flex Dance Music). Although flexing looks like a subgenre of popping, it did not come from hip-hop dance, funk music, or hip-hop culture. It evolved from a Jamaican style of street dance called bruk-up. In a 2009 interview with WireTap magazine, dancer Stefan "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente described bruk-up as a "reggae style of animation."
Flexing has been performed on the third season of America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC), on the second season of The LXD, and at the Guggenheim Museum as part of the YouTube Play event. In 2011, the Huffington Post published a brief news article on the dance. In 2013, NextLevelSquad performed flexing at Breakin' Convention and Adedamola "Ringmaster Nugget" Orisagbemi performed flexing at the Vail International Dance Festival.
The 2013 independent film Flex Is Kings documents the lives of several flexers over a two-year period leading up to a dance competition called BattleFest. Flex Is Kings was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. Flexing was also the subject of a French online dance show called "Puma the Quest". In 2014, The New Yorker published a seven-page article about flex dancer Saalim "Storyboard P" Muslim.
- Steyels, Mike (April 6, 2016). "Flex Tunes: Brooklyn's Own Dance Music". Pitchfork.com. Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2016.
- Johnson, Kristy (December 2, 2009). "Britney's Dance Dream Team". Dance Informa. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
Living in Brooklyn and with my family being West Indian, I was into a lot of Dancehall Reggae music. I ended up being part of a show in Brooklyn called ‘Flex N Brooklyn’ that created another dance style we call Flexing, which evolved from a style called ‘The Bruk Up’ from Jamaica.
- Harrison, Darryl (October 26, 2009). "Bone flexing in Brooklyn". New York Post. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
The biggest misconception is that flexing or our style came from hip hop, and it didn’t. It actually came from reggae. It came from ‘bruk up.’
- Love, Paulino (March 21, 2009). "Power Moves: Turf and Flex Dancers Build Bicoastal Bonds". WireTap Magazine. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
It's based on a reggae style of animation," explains Steffan "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente, one of the event's judges. "People compared it to poppin', but it's a reggae style of poppin'.
- Brun-Lambert, David (December 9, 2013). "Flexing: Brooklyn Goes Hard". RedBull.com. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- "Gas-Masked Dancers Hit The Subway (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. September 17, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
This music video, by YAK Films for King Bones and DJ Aaron, shows two shirtless dancers/contortionists in gas masks intertwining with each other... it's a mesmerizing, and slightly unsettling, performance.
- "NextLevelSquad (USA)". BreakinConvention.com. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
- Macaulay, Alastair (August 7, 2013). "A Whirl of Premieres, From Jookin to Jetés". The New York Times. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
- "Flex is King – A new Documentary by Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols". StreetClash.com. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- "Bonus NYC : rencontre avec le Ringmasters Crew". PumaTheQuest.com (in French). April 18, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- Weiner, Jonah (January 6, 2014). "The Impossible Body: Storyboard P, the Basquiat of street dancing.". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
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