Break dancing on canvas
By Phill Huxley
Wolverhampton B-Girl Hanifa Hudson has invented a new art form that she has christened Art Breaker. She's been teaching young people in Wolverhampton some moves...
Wolverhampton break dancer Hanifa Hudson has invented a brand new art form. Called Art Breaker, it involves dancers applying paint to their hands and feet and then transferring it to canvas through their dance moves. She has been working with young people from the Black Country at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, teaching them some moves and helping them to create some of their own pieces of art.
Hanifa rose to fame in the 80s as the only female member of Wolverhampton's famed B-boy group. Known as Bubbles, she was the leading female break dancer in the world and internationally known in her field.
Since then Hanifa has trained as a nurse and has a young son, but her strong passion for break dancing remained. After a lengthy break from the field, she has returned to B-boying, but with an artistic twist!
During her workshops at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Hanifa told us a little about how she invented Art Breaker and how she's enjoying passing on her skills to a new generation.
How did you come up with the concept for Art Breaker and when did you first perform it?
There are so many influential elements to the idea of Art Breaker. I first came up with the concept about six years ago but never really thought it would be accepted as a new art form at all.
My son used to come home from the nursery with finger, foot and hand print painting and I wondered how the prints would look if he were to do a break dance move, with paint on his hands or feet.
Also, about three years ago I visited a friend of mine at his art studio; his name is Temper - a graffiti artist from Birmingham. I was messing around in his studio doing break dance moves not knowing I was leaving black scuff foot marks from the soles of my shoes. Temper said “Look at my floor!” I apologised to him immediately with intentions of cleaning it up, and he said “no don’t clean it up, leave it. I want people to come in and see that the legendary UK’s first B-Girl has been in here break dancing on my floor!” hence the idea of Art Breaker.
Hanifa in action!
I pondered for a long time with this idea until I visited The Netherlands where the B-Boying culture is quite strong. Being seen as a break dancing legend can often be difficult, especially when travelling abroad to a break dancing event as a special guest.
The new up and coming break dancers would always ask me to do various break dance moves, not knowing that my ability to do moves is no more. I have been away from the break dance scene for almost 20 years, and now I'm unable to do certain moves, or to meet the expertise level which they may require.
Adding to this, many would also want my autograph, or to showcase a little demonstration on their mobile camera phone, or camcorder. This was becoming a little bit too stressful for me, so I decided that the easiest way around this was to put my actual break dance moves on canvas for them to take away with them as my signature and as my actual autographed painted break dance movement!
The idea really was just to reduce the hassle of people asking me to dance for them all the time!
Hanifa at work
I decided to try it at home with paints, and fellow B-Boy friends Moni B and Pops, passed by and said it was definitely an excellent idea and that I should push it and apply for support and funds. My first performance was for the Decibel Arts Showcase In September 2007 at Birmingham’s Patrick Centre.
You've been working with youngsters in Wolverhampton - How has that been? Have they been quick to pick things up and have you enjoyed teaching them?
It has been great working with young people from my local city. Wolverhampton is my city of birth, many of the young people are familiar with me and I found it easy to work with them. Though many of them were not break dancers they enjoyed learning this concept and being creative with both paint and dance.
Chloe Dennis prepares the canvas
They picked up the technique very quickly. Throughout the workshop they have all enjoyed experimenting, and collaborating with their fellow peers, and learning new ways of creating art on a canvas through dance, whether break dancing or not.
I think the most enjoyable part for the young people was to see their finished product. It was a great pleasure to work with them...
Are you the only one in the world performing like this, mixing art and break dancing - Are there other people doing similar things or are you unique?
I am not sure if I am the only person mixing art and break dancing. However I can confirm that I am the only person in the world to use this concept and technique in the way it has been used throughout my workshop - With acrylic, emulsion, sand, on canvas and cardboard.
Young people prepare for Art Breaking
The artform itself is called B-Boying on canvas and Art Breaker is the name of the project..
I have particular names for certain foot prints such as footspins, and footslides, to create particular patterns. Just like naming certain methods to use a paint brush such as strokes, dab the brush on the canvas.
Many hip hop historians throughout the world have confirmed to me that Art Breaker is absolutely a unique art form and has never been seen or performed before throughout the history of break dancing or hip hop!
Hanifa passes on some of her expertise
Back in the 80s your B-Boy group from Wolverhampton were pioneers, famous nationally and internationally. Do you all still keep in touch? I believe you had a reunion a couple of years back...?
Yes I still keep in touch with them and in fact I am a sister and niece to two of the members of Wolverhampton B-Boys.
We had a reunion after not seeing each other together for 20 years. Recently, we also met up at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery for the display of my canvasses. Just three members were missing, but we all text and call each other very often, except for Goldie [Who later became a famed drum & bass artist]. Since our one year relationship ended he doesn't speak to me any more...
You have a young son - Are you teaching him some moves at home? Does he want to follow in your footsteps?
I don’t teach my son any form of break dancing at all. I think I like to keep it separate from my family life. In fact we don’t really talk about break dancing.
Hanifa at one of her workshops
We have a direct mother son relationship and I'd rather focus on his education, and wellbeing more than break dancing. Also he has a love for cars and basketball, and I don’t really want to steer him away from that.
Since the birth of Art Breaker he has supported me with the development of various canvasses, and he also enjoys making his own canvasses.
His teacher has said that his art work has improved over the past year, and now he said he would like to be an artist I think I will support him in art work rather than break dancing. I think that’s the best way he can follow in his mother’s footsteps.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF WOLVERHAMPTON ART GALLERY
last updated: 14/08/2008 at 11:59