As a youngster growing up in midtown Anchorage, nationally recognized b-boy "Icey" Ives Viray got his start in the underground art of breakdancing by watching his peers. Although Spenard isn't necessarily known for its thriving street culture, a 10-years-old Viray was fortunate enough to witness a group of slightly older kids breaking one day at the Spenard Rec. Center. On the spot, he knew it was something he wanted to do. Not long after, Viray and his childhood friend, Jermain Bulaong, entered b-boy culture, first dancing on their own and then later with a crew and mentors.
Viray has come a long way since those early days. Now-and just on the verge of turning 19-he's returned home to Anchorage from a strong finish in one of his sport's most rigorous national competitions, the Red Bull BC One, which he lightly refers to as the "NBA of B-boying." This year's BC One North American event, which determines who will represent the continent in the world finals, was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Viray didn't win, but he says that's not really the point.
"To be honest though, it was really just an honor to be there, coming from Anchorage, Alaska," Viray smiled from under a loose fitting black baseball cap. "The competition was crazy, it was definitely really high." Viray is the first and only Alaskan to ever compete at the Red Bull BC One Finals, a fact he's both proud of and humble about.
Viray's story is a bit romantic really, an old school Hollywood-type narrative: small town talent is scouted by public bigwig, goes off to compete at a well-known, well-regarded national event.
"In Alaska, we don't really have a lot of big [breakdance] competitions," Viray explained, "but last year there was this pretty big [Red Bull sponsored] competition. Different b-boys from different states actually flew up here and there was this one guy David [Alvarado], who goes by 'Mex One,' he runs a place in Florida called the B-boy Spot. I was placed in this one-on-one competition-I had made it pretty far-and I guess that's where he saw me. He just pretty much scouted me and I guess he thought I'd be a good pick for the BC One."
In April of this year, the West High School graduate flew to Seattle, Washington to compete in the West Coast Cypher of the BC One series. He took third place, just behind the crowned West Coast champion Los Angeles-based b-boy Rion, and earned himself the "wildcard" spot at the Las Vegas event in August. The Vegas final was intense, but Ives walked away with TK place.
B-boying-which encompasses a lot of American street dance including breaking and breakdancing-originated on the East coast in 1970 with the rise of hip-hop culture. The style is largely based on fluid but technical movements, which may be choreographed or not. Moves are often gymnastic or strength and stamina based and set to music that is traditionally hip-hop and rap, but can be anything, really.
"Musicality plays the biggest role in [breaking]. If you're not listening to the music, then you're not engaged in rhythm and you won't be on point with what you're doing," Ives said. "Dancing is pretty much staying on point with the music, that's the main foundation to it: the music."
But the music can be what you want it to be, Ives added, "I'm listening to a lot of mellow stuff, like James Brown type of music, slow music. There's a lot of music that can hype you up, but sometimes when that hype gets to you you're not really composed inside and you can get off track."
His music choice mirrors his style, which has been described as "dynamic" and "from the heart." He sums it up by saying: "It's most definitely a passion. You don't dance for a reason, you dance to basically express and of course when you express it's coming from your heart. You're pretty much expressing physically. Something I like to say is we're basically like physical poets."