A Langford dancer is set to take her moves international as part of Canada’s hip-hop dance team.
Brooklyn Alexander is on the Team Canada Dance squad heading to the IDO World Hip Hop, Popping, & Breaking Championships in Kielce, Poland from Oct. 23 to 28.
Alexander has been dancing since she was four yearsold, initially trying ballet and jazz, but finding the faster pace of hip-hop dancing more her style.
“A lot of people like doing slow dance, but just the happiness of doing hip hop is a lot better for me because it goes a lot with my head. Instead of going really slowly and really pointed and straights and fine lines, you get to just kind of do whatever you want.”
For Alexander, dance helped her deal with struggles in school and was a means of self-expression.
“Otherwise she wants to be very much a wallflower,” said Alexander’s mother Kassie. “She doesn’t want to be noticed. She doesn’t want people to pay attention to her, she doesn’t want to be the centre of attention ever. But you put her on stage and she comes to life. She hypes everybody else that’s on that stage. That whole saying, ‘Dance like nobody’s watching.’ That’s what she does.”
Since graduating from Belmont last year, she’s been practising her own skills and passing them onto the next generation of break dancers.
“Coming up with something and then teaching it to somebody else. Seeing them do something that I created is just kind of a surreal moment,” said Alexander. “Also teaching little kids – seeing them start where I started, and seeing how passionate they are about it. It’s really cool to see them really excited to come to class and want to keep going all the time. It just reminds me of me when I was that age.”
Auditioning for the national team felt like a long shot, particularly with how expensive it is. Families can face some steep bills, around $7,000 in total, Alexander’s mother estimated, which includes the trip to Poland but also overnight stays for rehearsals all summer in Vancouver.
But encouraged by her mother, she submitted a video audition, something that became second nature during the pandemic.
“Six o’clock in the morning, I go into her room and I started jumping on her bed. The minute I read the emails, I knew this had to happen, I was like, ‘No, there’s no way this is not happening for Brooklyn.”
There’s little in the way of government funding for the sport, which means dancers are responsible for funding their own trips, through sponsorships or GoFundMe campaigns. With break dancing (“Breaking”) set to be in the Paris Olympics in 2024, Kassie said hopes that means more recognition and funding will come in the future.
“I don’t think people understand dance itself and how serious it can be for some people, because if it’s not a sport with two teams and a ref it’s not a sport. But the reason why there is a Team Canada for dance is because people don’t consider it (a sport) so we made it one.”