Moving to the Beat
Hip Hop Gave Jamie Burgos a new life and he’s sharing it with others
Dance saved Jamie Burgos’ life.
Growing up in Tampa’s projects, Burgos, a self-described “kid from the streets,” was in the pipeline for a cycle of poverty, jail – or worse. His dad was in prison, his brother was a crack addict by 15 and in prison two years later, and his sister had her first child when she was a teenager.
“I was already headed down that path,” he says. “And I’m sure I would’ve ended up the same way if not for the positive community I found of people who just wanted to dance.”
Burgos began dancing as a young teen, fascinated by the sounds of hip hop and rap, stories that resonated with him on a deeply personal level. He began parroting the moves and beats he saw on TV and by the time he was 13, he’d won his first dance competition, wowing judges in a a style called New Jack Swing, moves familiar to anyone who’s seen a M.C. Hammer video.
He traveled the world with various dance troupes, winning accolades and finding a community that understood him.
“We all need something to be passionate about,” he says. “Something that gets us excited to wake up in the morning.”
That’s what he’s hoping to convey to the students who are part of his break dancing classes here in Houston. Burgos came to the area after a long stint in Los Angeles. He says the city was already on his radar. While competing at the UK B/Boys Championship a few years back, he met a choreographer who told him the area was well worth looking into. Burgos knew Houston as a center for hip hop, as well as an incubator for legendary hip hop dancers. He settled in Fulshear last October.
“It was like fate,” he said. “My first month here I was busier than I was in L.A.”
“The classes are for all ages,” he says. “I have a four-year-old in one, but most are five years old and up.”
Dance, he says, is a great way to encourage kids to move more.
“I’ve never seen a kid watching break dancing and not want to move,” he laughs. “I think it’s the music, the fun of it. It’s also a way for them to build motor skills and their own creativity.”
More than that, though, he’s looking to help share with a new generation some of what breakdancing gave him.
“This is a community,” he says. “We have our own way of talking, of dressing, and it’s all built on positivity. This is about being better, encouraging each other to be better, and finding your own individual voice in your art.”
As he continues settling into his Hosuton life, he’s hoping to one day open his own studio. Breakdancing, he knows, is here to stay.
“It’ll be in the Olympics in 2024!” he says. “That makes it interesting for kids and parents on a whole other level.”
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