Skillz shortage in boom time for the b-boys

Young dancers at the Calton Centre
Young dancers at the Calton Centre
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It is a pastime often associated with the headspinning 1980s.

But an Edinburgh breakdancing school has proven so popular it is recruiting new teachers just three months after opening.

Co-founder Taz

Co-founder Taz

Step It Up Dance was set up by Tyrone Walsh and Niki Hutchison in January and already has around 80 youngsters attending classes in Leith, Northfield, Marchmont and Gorgie.

But Niki, 33, admitted finding new teachers has for the growing classes has been far from easy. “It is hard to find people who can breakdance and who are good enough to teach other people,” she said.

“There is a definite resurgence in breakdancing and it’s probably something to do with TV shows like Got to Dance.

“It’s brilliant because it’s attracting boys and keeping them interested as well.

“We’re quite keen to focus on areas considered more deprived and we’re looking at setting up a class in Wester Hailes.”

Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill dropped in recently to observe its effectiveness as a diversionary activity which keeps youngsters away from crime and antisocial behaviour.

The dance school hopes to introduce a bursary scheme for families who struggle to afford the cost of classes and has recently introduced an internal awards scheme so youngsters can measure their progress.

Teacher Tyrone, 24 – known as Taz – credits breakdancing with steering him away from antisocial activities.

The self-taught dancer said: “When I was growing up in Leith, there’s wasn’t very much to do. My dad died when I was 14 and I started hanging around street corners – I was going down a bad road.”

But aged 17, Taz, who lives in Easter Road, started going to the 6VT Edinburgh City Youth Cafe for youngsters deemed “vulnerable” or “at risk”.

He said: “I met a few other boys there and they were trying to get out of the schemes by doing stuff – we all just started breakdancing together. If it hadn’t been for breakdancing I probably would have ended going to jail, getting a girl pregnant or doing drugs.”

What started off as a hobby became a career for Taz, who has danced at the MTV Awards, the Edinburgh Festival and even 10 Downing Street.

He said: “As long as the kids have fun and learn at least one breakdancing move, I have done my job.”

VALUABLE ACTIVITY

Diversionary activities aimed at traditionally hard-to-reach young people are invaluable, according to Dot Horne, director of youth cafe 6VT.

She said: “We’ve had a long-standing interest in breakdancing. It’s appealing to young males because it’s seen as quite risky and takes a lot of strength. The success comes from being part of a peer group and it’s great for the younger participants to have positive role models.

“Breakdancing becomes a diversionary activity which steers people away from antisocial activities such as smoking and drinking.”