Student Blog: Breaking master class

September 27, 2022

B-boy Neguin in a handstand

B-boy Neguin teaching a master class at USC Kaufman | Photo by Hannah Doerr

What is breaking?

Breaking is a form of hip-hop dance, born in the Black American communities of the Bronx, New York City. The style focuses on four ways of movement: top rocks, foot work, power and freezes. Each individual b-boy and b-girl stands out by using their creativity to make variations of the four styles. Breaking is practiced all around the world, as an ever-evolving form of dance within a large and loving community. In the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris, France, breaking will make its Olympic debut. This marks a huge step for the breaking community, especially for publicity and access.

B-boy Neguin

The breaking community has idols and leaders that are paving the way for the future of the form. At USC Kaufman, we were fortunate enough to have master classes from one of these pioneers: Fabiano Carvalho Lopes, a.k.a Neguin. Neguin started his breaking career in 2000 at age thirteen, and since then has expanded his understanding of movement. Various styles of both dance and martial arts influence his unique breaking style.

Neguin’s style is high in energy and uses a lot of acrobatic flips and tricks with speed and quick successions. Because of his unique style and incredible physical feats, Neguin has many championship titles from various breaking competitions. He has traveled to 142 different countries in which he has taught and/or competed in breaking.

BFA students pose for a photo with B-boy Neguin
BFA students with B-boy Neguin | Photo by Hannah Doerr

Neguin’s unique teaching approach

Neguin taught three master classes at USC Kaufman, two for BFA students and one for the greater USC dance community. I was fortunate to be able to learn from all of them. I noticed right away that Neguin didn’t come into the room with any expectations of what to teach or what we should learn. At the start of each class, he gave us a warm up. This is to ensure that we didn’t injure ourselves, especially considering breaking is such a strenuous dance form. Then he asked us, “what do you want to learn from me?” Those words are something you don’t normally hear in a dance class, especially in a university setting. We are used to having a set curriculum where we just follow whatever the instructor shows. I can’t recall the last time, if ever, a teacher asked us students what we wanted to learn.

This was a very effective way of approaching the master class, especially when it comes to breaking. I am fortunate to say that I have and do practice breaking on a regular basis. However, many people at USC Kaufman, and in the world, have never participated in breaking whatsoever. Because of the mixed experiences in this classroom, Neguin asking us what we wanted to learn eased any tension from expectations we may have had before walking into the room.

Jonathan Cubides in a baby freeze
Jonathan Cubides (BFA ’24) in B-boy Neguin’s master class | Photo by Hannah Doerr

Guidance classes

Another interesting way that Neguin taught was in the way he showed and explained movement. For example, when we started with a movement across the floor, he showed a basic way of doing it. Then, he would show us how we could evolve the movement into something more complicated after mastering the basics. He then gave us space to try the more complicated version within our bodies to see if there was a way to elevate the move into something that felt natural for us. That way, we could take the move with us after class and continue to evolve it on our own.

I found this method of teaching fascinating, and I came to the conclusion that these weren’t just master classes, they were guidance classes. Since breaking is so individualized, it was very appropriate for Neguin to carry the class with that in mind. He knew that each of us could find a different way to evolve the movement that he showed us.

Since I took all three of his classes that day, I took away a lot of information. He presented ideas that I am still processing within myself as a b-boy. Each class was different from the rest, and Neguin repeated little to nothing. Taking these classes has inspired me to continue to elevate my breaking training, not only when I can find classes at USC Kaufman or around Los Angeles, but on my own time as well. Breaking is a form that requires discipline and focus in order to elevate your style to the next level. Neguin provided so much knowledge for me to take in as an aspiring breaker.

Master classes sponsored by Red Bull.

By Jonathan Cubides (BFA ’24)