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Breakdance Goes Isarphilharmonie

Making Moves: As breakdance conquers the Olympics for the first time in 2024, is also turns the Gasteig on its head. Aloun Phetnoi Ferzandi tells us why he transfers breakdance from the streets into a concert hall.

Breakdancer poses for a photo in front of the Gasteig HP8
Aloun Phetnoi Ferzandi and his crew bring breakdance to the Gasteig HP8. Copyright: Benedikt Feiten/Gasteig

As a teenager, unable to afford dance tuition, Aloun Phetnoi Ferzandi trained with ghetto blasters in underground stations. Today, he runs two dance studios in Munich. Together with his crew Step2Diz, he is bringing the Breakdance Battle to the Isarphilharmonie for Tanz den Gasteig. After a short dance performance at the Gasteig HP8, Aloun explains to us how dancing has helped him deal with life.

“Culture for Munich: Hey, we’re a part of it!”

Two breakdancers dance acrobatically in Hall E
Aloun and his brother during a breakdance demonstration in Hall E Copyright: Benedikt Feiten/Gasteig

Breakdancing is an acrobatic street dance. Why are you taking it off the street and into a concert venue like the Isarphilharmonie?

It’s precisely the opposites that attract each other here: Street culture meets high culture, which is the biggest highlight for us street artists and fills me with gratitude. The Isarphilharmonie is an amazing backdrop that fills us street artists with a very special spirit and masses of energy. What we do still meets with derision from some quarters, but there is so much passion and training behind it. With our battle, we want to show that hip-hop, with its elements of breakdance, graffiti, rap and beat production, has long since become part and parcel of the arts and should finally be recognised as such.


How does a breakdance battle work and who can take part?

First of all, you don’t have to be able to stand on one hand or spin on your head. Anyone who wants to can sign up for the battle, regardless of their own breakdancing skills. Our live DJ adapts their set spontaneously to the participants’ moves and skill levels, and I add a little pizzazz as the MC. Of course, winning the prize money of 200 euros is an incentive, but the main thing is to have fun. Dancers can enter individually or in groups of three and we will select suitable constellations depending on the type and number of registrations. It doesn’t matter where yo come from and what language you speak – the battle is all about body language. For example, if I stand on one hand and my opponent does a somersault over it, it spurs me on to try another trick myself. (grins) We breakdancers are machines; we just keep going. It’s all about honour.


What criteria does the jury use to decide who wins?

We have invited three jury members who bring different perspectives to the table: An older dancer, an OG (old generation) and a newcomer who is currently winning everything. There is also a female breakdancer, B-Girl. In the knockout rounds, the jury give a thumbs up or thumbs down without much discussion to decide who goes through to the semi-finals for a chance to advance to the finals. Participants are assessed on the complete package: synchronicity with the music, ease of movement, flow, and how they deal with the whole situation.

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Breakdance conquers the Gasteig on 25 May at Tanz den Gasteig.

To what extent are pain and failure part of breakdancing?

For me, breakdancing is like life: No matter what obstacle or challenge you encounter, you must keep moving to maintain your balance. Of course you fall, and it often hurts, especially when you first start out. I remember when my mum kept telling me off for my blood-soaked T-shirts when I practised the same move thousands of times and always fell on my right shoulder. But I really wanted to learn. I trained hard and now I can do this move in my sleep.


You came to breakdancing via graffiti and teach children, youngsters and adults in your own two dance studios. What do they learn with you?

We often get kids who have no self-confidence at all. The battles and other performances give them a platform to showcase themselves. They develop self-esteem and learn to respect other dancers and their moves. I know from experience that anyone can dance; anyone can do anything if they really want to and keep at it no matter what. Training is more important than talent. My brothers and I come from a time when there were no hip-hop role models in Munich. I’ve been in the game for many years now and see it as my job to take young people by the hand.

“Breakdancing is a release, where you can let it all out!”

Aloun Phetnoi Ferzandi

Dance festival – Tanz den Gasteig

Saturday, 25 May 2024 at the Gasteig HP8; free admission