January’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Alea de Castro to support free monthly dance battles in the city.
These dance battles, taking place under the name Th3rd Fridays, have been running for just over a year. A DJ plays various types of music and dancers compete against each other, freestyle, one on one, until there is one winner left. A judge, explains Alea, picks who has won based on criteria such as musicality, creativity, skills, competitiveness, and confidence, and the winner takes home a pot to which each dancer has contributed a minimum of $2. The audience watches for free, but is welcome to donate toward the next event.
“To understand street dance culture,” explains Alea, “you have to go back to the roots of hip hop and black culture. The hip hop dance battle concept, specifically breaking or break dancing, emerged during the late 70’s as a response to heavy segregation, drugs, and police brutality. To get away from the negativity, young black and Latino kids in The Bronx started breaking and battling to express themselves in a positive manner.” From there, she explains, street dance has become a positive and empowering movement for youth, women, marginalized people, LGBTQ communities, people of colour, and more.
To see some Th3rd Friday dance moves, check out this Ottawa Minute produced by 613TV.
Alea is a Registered Nurse working at The Ottawa Hospital, and co-founder of MOOV Ottawa Dance.
Funded by Ottawa, ON (January 2019)