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Common Ground: Hip Hop dance crew

April 2009

Grub DEver wandered through Cathedral Square at the weekend and seen a group of hard out hip hop dancers showing off their moves? These are the guys of the Christchurch dance crew Common Ground. The Pulse talked to b-boy Davey McCavitt aka Grub D about the group, dance-related concussion and the international hip hop dance scene.

How long has Common Ground been around and when did you join the group?
It formed in 2000. I’ve been with the group since around the end of 2002. There’s only one original member left from the very beginnings of the group. I’m the leader now but there’s a sort of a “tight five” of guys who’ve been in the group about the same amount of time.
How often do you get together to practise and where do you do that?
About two or three times a week. We practise at YCD on Cashel Street. Usually Tuesday and Thursday nights and some Saturdays we go into the square, and practise in public a wee bit. We just muck around just to be in the environment where other people can watch us. And if another dancer from another country happens to be in town then they might see us. That’s sort of what we hope for, in doing that.
With the amount of time you guys put in it’s obviously something you’re fairly serious about.
We’re definitely, definitely into it. It’s a lot of effort to practise all the time. You grow to love it. If you hang in there past the first year, it becomes more than just dancing.
What sorts of events and gigs do you usually perform at?
We’ve done an event for the Blind Foundation. We’ve performed for Make a Wish. Churches, nightclubs. You name it. We’ve done it. Mostly it’s in Christchurch for the performances though we’ve travelled to places like Timaru and Kaikoura for youth events. When we travel it’s mostly for competitions.
What advice would you give to someone who thinks they’ve got moves and would like to be part of a group like yours?
I guess, if you see other dancers around it might be good to join up with them, not necessarily to be in their crew but to just be around the environment. Just do it no matter what and get your friends into it. Introduce it to people and tell them that it’s dance that has a lot of skill to it. From there you can start a crew. There’s no rule that says you can’t start a crew but if you’re going to start one you may as well go all the way. Go to parties. Be out there and make a whole mad team.
Is there any move or trick that you had to practise for ages before you finally got it?
Definitely. With the dancing that we do, the breaking, the b-boying, a lot of the moves take a long time to learn. The groundwork is sort of the easiest but it sometimes takes you ages to get a trick and afterwards you feel so good, eh. But sometimes you can fluke it and you won’t be able to do it again for ages, and you’re like “Crap!”.
Any move in particular that you found hard to pick up?
There’s always one move we do called the “air flare” where you’re on your hands constantly and you’re sort of 180 rotating in the air continuously. It’s one of the hardest moves to do just one of. Easy to continue but hard to get one and also probably “the flare” which some gymnasts do. You’re on your hands again and your feet are sort of scissor kicking.
Have you ever hurt yourself trying to pull something off that you didn’t quite manage?
The “air flare” that I was talking about? About three or four years I did that move in a battle and knocked myself out and got concussion. Apart from that I’ve been not warmed up and hurt my thumbs. Also I sort of pinched a nerve in my neck once because you do a lot of stuff on your head and I didn’t warm up that time either so you better remember to warm up.
Who do you most look up to as a dancer and whose moves would you most like to have?
Too many, and too many moves. Lots of people over in Korea. A few Americans like this guy called Abstrak. He’s one of my favourites. He is abstract. That’s how you’d describe his style and Koreans for their power because I like power moves - all the crazy kicks that the crowd love to see. B-boys are not about the tricks but that’s what people want to see. People don’t understand the dance yet so they don’t know how good it is. It originated in America so you’ve got to give respect to them as well. It’s massive all around the world though.