The following article written by Planet B-Boy director and producer, Benson Lee, including photos, are all provided by Elephant Eye Films press release kit. Elephant Eye Films is a New York City-based film studio that produces, sells, and distributes high-quality feature films. We are sharing Mr. Lee’s story due to his passionate involvement in the making of this film, and his devotion to share with the world the art forms, lifestyles, and adventures of B-Boyism at its finest! Enjoy!
When I first witnessed breakdancing back in the mid-eighties, I was mesmerized by the dance. I had never seen anything like it before, and like most young kids back in the day, my first reaction was to break apart a piece of cardboard and do a backspin. The breakdance trend was enormous, and most people are unaware that the dance was what initially helped to spread hip-hop worldwide. Like other fads, breakdancing ultimately faded away in pop culture history, but my love and respect for the dance always remained. It wasn’t until fifteen years later when I saw a “Battle of the Year” video that I was shocked to discover the dance was not only still around, but thriving across the globe.
Shattering the stereotype of kids just messing around on street corners, b-boys’ technical dance moves have become incredibly complex with acrobatic feats on par with Olympic gymnasts. I saw dancers from countries as far-reaching as Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and Latvia perform highly sophisticated and clever choreographies which were precise, well-structured and, above all, enormously entertaining.
In the final “battle” round of the event, when the teams went head-to-head, the moves became more explosive with emotion and I could feel the stories behind the dance – the exhilaration, the frustration…I saw that they poured everything from their lives into the dance, and I wanted to uncover their stories and find out more.
Everyone loved the idea for the movie, and with little time to prep before the next “Battle of the Year,” we raised just enough money to buy cameras and plane tickets to five countries in two months. We were a small crew of just three people racing around the world. Spending day in and day out with the b-boys, we gained deep insight into the sacrifices they made for the dance. Most of them were struggling to make ends meet, with some living below the poverty line, but they trained daily for the “Battle of the Year” with enthusiasm and dedication.
B-boying represents the original essence of hip-hop culture, which is about making something out of nothing and expressing your own creativity. The struggle for individuality and self-expression is something that everyone can identify with, and as new generations continue to re-interpret the dance through their own lives, b-boying continues to evolve and celebrate the diversity of our experience.
I have always been fascinated by the way a person expresses their individuality. At the same time, I’m equally fascinated by the similarities we share through culture and being identified with a group. I believe that most of us have that need to have a voice, but also be part of, or associated with like-minded people. B-boying is an art form that demands individuality and self-expression, allowing the dancer to celebrate who they are, what they believe in, and what brings joy to their life. B-boys form a global community connected through the dance. PLANET B-BOY is my homage to the dancers from the past, present and future who have passionately devoted their lives to what I consider the greatest dance form ever created by youth.