Localize It: Break it till you make it

Although there are few and far between, Anchorage is home to a few extremely talented and unique dancers, ranging in skills from ballet, to tap, to hip-hop. It can be difficult to make a dancing career up here, especially with the lack of studios, shows, and competitions. Nevertheless, there are still a few who manage to work hard enough and make the transition from emerging dancer to professional dancer.

One of those few is Jeremy Viray, also known as Ives. He a nationally recognized hip-hop dancer, with a focus in breaking. Ives has always been interested in the art of breaking, and begun his journey as a hip-hop dancer as early as eleven years old. From practicing in recreation rooms in gyms, to now performing in nation wide competitions, Ives has truly made his name known in the dance community, both locally and nationally.

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Photo credit: Story of You Media

“I used to go to this rec center to play basketball, and one day there was an older guy who was break dancing in the game room. He started showing me some moves, and I remember feeling pretty comfortable, and how naturally it came to move like that. Almost like it was destined to happen, like I was supposed to walk into that game room that day,” Ives said.

Once Ives started getting serious about breaking and hip hop, around the age of 16, he was invited to represent the state of Alaska in a national breaking competition in Seattle, Washington. Since then, Ives hasn’t stopped competing, and he has been on a constant upward climb, always improving his skill. California, Florida, Las Vegas, Korea, China and Canada are some of the major cities and countries that Ives has traveled to for competitions in past years, winning multiple awards, and becoming well known along the way.

“The biggest competition I’ve been to so far was one sponsored by Red Bull, which I attended last August. That competition was especially unique for me because I was the first ever Alaskan invited to compete in that competition. Qualifiers of that competition went on to the world finals, which is held usually in a different country. It was a great experience to be apart of, and I felt very humbled to be there,” Ives said.

Apart from competing as a solo act, Ives is also apart of a hip hop group, called the Rockforce Crew. This crew reached out to Ives to become a member June of last year, and is still apart of the group today. They travel all over the world, and perform in some of the worlds biggest hip-hop competitions.

“The Rockforce Crew was established back in 1982, and some of the breakers that I look up to most were on this team at one point. To have their name attached to mine has brought me more opportunities and experiences than I could have ever imagined. It’s really cool to be apart of something where everyone is just as passionate about the same thing you are,” Ives said.

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While Ives has been traveling outside of Alaska to compete and gain knowledge about breaking, he has also been working locally to open up Anchorage’s first hip hop studio. Set to open its doors for the first time this coming February, Express Studio will allow students of all ages and skill level to learn what Ives has been doing the majority of his life.

“Bruce Lee has had a few inspirational speeches that have had a really big impact on me. He started in a small community, and wanted to take his art and passions, share them with the world, and pour them back into his home. That kinda made me realize that that’s exactly what I want to do also, just put back into this town what I’ve learned and grown from. Owning a studio and being able to teach kids about breaking would be a dream come true,” Ives said.

Breaking, and hip-hop dance in general has given Ives something to be passionate about, something to set goals and improve with, and become a better dancer as each day passes. There is no way his career is slowing down any time soon, and Ives’ journey with break dancing is one that others’ admire and look up to as they begin their own.