Fancy footwork, athletic agility and gymnastic ability helped top Cape Town breakdancer, Toufeeq Baatjies, 24, from Mitchell’s Plain, claim the top shot in an international online competition, a fortnight ago.
Baatjies, who returmed home recently following a two-year tour of Gemany, Austria and Switzerland, was crowned the winner of the Wake Up Session Indian Ocean Break Championship.
Along with MC-ing, graffiti, DJ-ing and beatboxing, B-Boying is a fundamental element of hip hop.
What may start off as a simple two-step quickly evolves into a complex sequence of movements that will leave audiences breathless.
And if leaving the crowd gasping for air is what it takes to be crowned king, Baatjies, aka B-Boy Toufeeq, has what it takes – whether on the streets or in packed halls, locally and globally.
While the current lockdown situation may have restricted his chances of competing in the physical world, it did not stop him from breaking it down in the virtual realm.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, he was able to perform in front of the judges via a Skype call, from the relative discomfort of his own driveway.
With very little room to practise his moves, the intrepid dancer had to make use of whatever space was available.
“Not ideal,” says Baatjies, “but hey it’s what we’ve got to work with.
“You know dance is not big in South Africa and the lockdown is making things tough as this is my 9 to 5. It’s tough but I’m trying my best.”
Thankfully he could rely on years of experience and competing at the highest level to come up with a routine that would blow away the judges.
“I’ve been B-Boying or breakdancing for 13 years now,” he said.
“My father, Fakier, was a B-Boy back then so I guess it’s in my blood,” he said.
However, he said, it was meeting Angelo van Wyk, a member of the Cape legendary hip hop outfit Black Noise in 2008, that put him on the road to the top.
Considered pioneers of the hip hop scene in South Africa, Black Noise built its reputation through workshops and other community initiatives aimed at uplifting vulnarable youth.
Founder member Emil YX? recently posted a then-and-now video on his social media platforms, featuring a much younger Baatjies and others who attended their workshops at the Eastridge community centre.
Looking beyond the current lockdown situation, Baatjies said there’s still a lot of dance left in him and that he’d like to continue but needs to be able to practise his craft in a proper environment.
“I don’t have a training space, I’ve been trying to get space but nobody can accommodate me as a dancer.”
If you can help, call Baatjies on 061 494 3356.