It’s 9 p.m., and junior Elijah Waxman, or by his stage name, Kelevra Roc, receives a text message for the dance battle location. He has been selected to battle some of the most intense b-boys in the Bay Area, and hopes to win. In modern-day culture, a b-boy refers to break-boy, or one who breakdances. But, when breakdancing was created, b-boy referred to Bronx-boy. The Bronx, New York City was the epicenter of breakdancing, and from there it spread all over the world.
Waxman started breakdancing in middle school. He was hesitant to play a sport and wanted to explore other types of extracurriculars.
“I started my formal breakdancing career at Mitchell Park’s, The Drop [an after-school activities center. I learned from several people in San Jose that gave me my foundation before the studio in San Jose got shut down,” Waxman said. “[Then, I] had to teach myself for a whole year and I started practicing in San Francisco, which is where I am practicing today.”
Waxman’s training schedule consists of practice in San Francisco three days a week and three hours each day. When he is not practicing in San Francisco he tries to allot time to practicing at school or home.
At Paly, Waxman believes that the staff has been supportive of his efforts to move along his breakdancing journey.
“[Student Activities Director Matt Hall and Physical Education teacher Kay Gibson] have made it pretty easy for me to use the dance studio,” Waxman said. “Gibson usually lets me use the speakers and come in during fourth period to practice a little bit before Gibson has her class, and in general the Paly staff has been pretty cool with me using the space I need to practice.”
Waxman trains for hours each week to compete in battles. These battles are held at night and are judged by the host. The criteria are simple: have the best moves and the best dance.
“I have battled about five times,” Waxman said. “I plan to do more; [five battles] is not the largest amount of competitions for the people my age so far.”
Despite his rapid growth, Waxman ran into two major roadblocks this year. Waxman injured his back twice and towards the end of the 2011-2012 school year, he dislocated his right shoulder but he has now come back from both injuries and is now practicing at full strength to achieve his goals.
“I want to get up to the point where I can travel all around the world and let people know that even a kid from Palo Alto as a b-boy can still be on the world-class level too and be one of the top competitors,” Waxman said.
Waxman hopes to continue breakdancing so long as he can avoid injuries.
“[Breakdancing] is my passion,” Waxman said. “It is actually the one thing in life that makes me really happy. Other than school and being around other people, this is the one thing that keeps me really occupied and the one thing that has helped me adjust to life in general.”
Before he started breakdancing, Waxman thought of himself as an outsider because of the lack of common interests he had with other people.
“In general, breakdancing has taught me to be easy on the people around you and [not] so nervous,” Waxman said. “Before I started dancing I was kind of a shut-in, and then I started meeting other people who were like me, and they helped me come out of my shell as a person.”
As Waxman progresses, he enjoys the honor of meeting some of the most well-known b-boys in the world.
“You get to know some of the best [dancers] in the world,” Waxman said. “But, you get to know these people so well that they don’t seem famous anymore and you can relate to them as an elder sibling or best friend.”
Although Waxman’s parents both support him as a dancer and want him to be occupied, they would also like for him to be kept out of any activities that could potentially injure him severely.
“[My parents] both see that I have a real talent for breakdancing and they want to see me go far with it.” Waxman said.
Waxman has gained much support from the Paly community throughout his appearances at school sponsored dances, in the dance studio during tutorial and in the spirit dances. He always strives for excellence with each performance.
“What it all comes down to is staying headstrong, being body smart and knowing the correct way to practice to get to the pro level,” Waxman said. “All I know is, I’m going to keep pushing myself to the next level no matter what.”