On the autumn evening of October 12 in Tokyo, The Battle 2012—an international street dance competition—broke out between a group of Russian dancers known as Predatorz Crew and a Japanese alliance of young dancing forces in front of an enthusiastic crowd gathered at Nakano Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo, with the Russian team claiming victory.
Street dancing—commonly known as hip-hop dancing or breakdancing—has been a mainstay of modern urban culture since the end of the 20th century. In the 1970s, a variety of freestyle dancing evolved on the streets of New York City, and has flourished among young people across the United States and eventually around the world in the new millennium. Early on in its history, constant improvisation created new and exciting styles, including hip-hop, breaking, popping, locking, gliding and waving among many others, and made street dance a truly fun, exciting and inspirational experience for many youths and street gangs in urban areas. Instead of violent fights, street dancers started to compete with each other, showing off their individual techniques; these competitions have developed into today’s ‘battles’. Although battles are still competitive, the interaction and collaboration that occurred on the streets brought many youths together with a deep sense of solidarity that crossed barriers of geography, language and race, and created spaces for the globalization of urban culture.
To develop mutual understanding and friendship among the youth of different countries, Min-On initiated The Battle series to bring a street dance competition to the stage, and invited groups of dancers from Korea and China to Japan on three occasions in 2007, 2009 and 2010. This year, the world-champion breakdance group, Predatorz Crew, was invited from Moscow, Russia to collaborate with a team of popular Japanese hip-hop dancers for a 19-city tour of The Battle across Japan from October 12 through November 6. In part one of the event, each team introduced its own unique moves to rhythms supplied by DJ Mar Ski, which were judged by the applause of the audience. During the finale, the teams performed a collaborative production entitled Aiming for a New Era Above the Clouds, sketching a plot in which an age of war turns to an age of solidarity. The teams celebrated together the great triumph of The Battle 2012 with the enthusiastic applause of the audience.