The Ronnie Berlack Center was filled with thumping music, oohs and ahs and amazing athleticism as the Pro Breaking Tour made a stop at Burke Mountain Academy on Sunday, May 7, 2017. The Tour, founded by BMA alumnus Steve Graham ’77 featured 12 professional breakers competing for $10,000 in prize money. In addition to BMA students, staff and a number of alumni, the event was free and open to the public — children and adults of all ages from around the Northeast Kingdom witnessed something never seen before in this area.
Jody Fried, Executive Director of Catamount Arts, commented “To see such incredible athleticism and professional artistry in the atmosphere of BMA’s Ronnie Berlack Olympic training facility was such a treat! My family was in awe throughout the entire three-hour competition. It was intense. Who knows… perhaps we’ll all look back someday at this rainy afternoon in East Burke, Vermont and remember it as the day that breaking finally broke through as an official sport of the Olympic games. How cool would that be?”
The breakers stood across from each other on the floor at the start of each round, looking each other in the eye and daring one another to make the first move. When they jumped in with flips, back handsprings or slick moves the crowd went wild. They drove the intensity up and up with head spins and hands stands to bring everyone to their feet in the final rounds where breaker “El Nino” prevailed to capture the win. Senior Parker Biele’s favorite breaker was Tata. She remarked “it was an incredible event, something I had never seen before. The opportunity to make it available here at BMA was really special, I hope they will be able to come back again.”
The moment all the Burkies were waiting for arrived as the event wrapped up and Steve (Silverback) Graham took to the floor to join in an impromptu exhibition battle between local breakers from the NEK and the pros. Steve (who is now 58) joined the locals who needed an additional breaker to round out their numbers. He wowed the crowd with his agility and skill, the highlight of the event!
“It was awesome to bring the UDEF Pro Breaking Tour to BMA. I first learned to break when working at Goldman Sachs in the early 80’s and the athleticism of breaking is something I thought the Burke athletes would really like. Breaking is global today and going into the 2018 Youth Olympics in Argentina. The pro breakers were very impressed by BMA and by seeing the names of all of the Burke Olympians up on the wall at the RBC.” Graham commented.
Steve Berlack spoke for all Burkies when he shared “I am still numb from what I saw Sunday. Absolutely spectacular, in many ways. To see the Burkie’s react to the character, camaraderie, and unbelievable athleticism of the BBoy’s was amazing. The scene of the BBoys mingling with the students, taking pictures of the VT countryside, and the total “mosh” in the dining hall at dinner was an energy that we do not experience enough at BMA.” We are grateful indeed.