Break dancing isn’t what is used to be. It’s even better and more exciting than it was when it first became popular in the 1980s. Breakers like Lil’Phat, the award-winning break dancer from Russia, has been doing it for over thirteen years and competes internationally. He appreciates the beauty of the ‘dance’ movements but he also calls it a sport, because he understands all the physical challenges this unique art form represents.
Lil’Phat is from Vladivostok, Russia, which is situated in the Far East. He went to school there and spent four years at Vladivostok State university of Economics and Services. Besides his academic regimen, he studied English and participated in different sports such as, swimming, sambo, volleyball, handball, all the while continuing with break dancing, which was his first love as far as sports and art went.
Lil’Phat, whose birth name is Ilia Igorevich Openchuk, was mesmerized by break dancing the first time he saw it performed. That was when he was 12 and he was watching teenaged break dancers at a children’s camp he was in. That pretty much sold him on what he was going to be doing for the next part of his life. The movements of those dancers and the way they spun on their heads, along with their arms and shoulders just blew him away. He, like millions of other people never saw people make those moves before and they were just too unique to forget.
Lil’Phat has lived in Los Angeles for the last couple of years and he is one of the premiere break dancers there. His crew “Derevo,” moved to California with him and they still compete on a world-class level. They are also learning the hip hop street culture found in L.A. and are learning hip hop dance moves.
He was a break dancing coach for six years in Vladivostok, at the very well-known dance studio “Forma.” He taught break dancing to kids, teenagers and adults. His countless awards have come from competitions all over the world: China, Russia, Korea, Holland, Slovakia and the Unites States. His advice for aspiring break dancers: Don’t expect anything from break dancing. If you love it, just train, compete and if it’s yours then you will have success. He also believes firmly in warming up as much as possible before starting a routine. He says, it will cut down on injuries.