Dancers come from near and far to show off moves at Silver Spring break dancing competition

WTOP's Valerie Bonk interviews breakdancers at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring.

It’s not on the list in Tokyo, but break dancing will be a sport at the 2024 summer games in Paris.

On Sunday, Olympic hopefuls and dancers from across the country came to Silver Spring, Maryland, to show off those skills.

“It’s an exciting time all across the board,” said Antonio Castillo, Chair of the Competitive Breakin’ League.

Castillo is also the owner of The Lab D.C. Breakin’ School, which is working to train the next generation of breakers.

<p>A break dancer competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
A break dancer competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

<p>A break dancer competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
A break dancer competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

<p>Zak Grabowski of North Carolina competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
Zak Grabowski of North Carolina competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

<p>The crowd watches the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
The crowd watches the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

<p>A DJ mixes beats for the Rock the Box break dancing competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
A DJ mixes beats for the Rock the Box break dancing competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

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<p>A break dancer competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
<p>A break dancer competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
<p>Zak Grabowski of North Carolina competes at the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
<p>The crowd watches the Rock the Box competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>
<p>A DJ mixes beats for the Rock the Box break dancing competition in Silver Spring, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)</p>

Sunday was the first “Rock the Box” competition since the coronavirus pandemic began and it was held at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre on Colesville Road.

It was first started in 2014.

“It started out as a small event just for the local DMV area and eventually grew national, so we’ve been traveling around the country for the last seven years holding regional competitions to qualify people for Rock the Box,” Castillo said.

This year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they weren’t able to travel across the country to hold the qualifiers so they had them during Sunday’s competition with people qualifying same-day for the national competition slots.

“One of the things about breaking that makes it unique is that you can create your own style, your own identity,” Castillo said.

Daquan Williams, 26, from Landover Hills, Maryland, has several national championship titles and said he hopes his style will bring him all the way to the first Olympic team.

“It’s amazing and humbling at the same time,” Williams said. “It’s amazing, I love it. It’s good to be back in a competitive setting. We’re artists first and foremost before we’re a sport, so, it’s love, it all connects together.”

Castillo said he’s excited about breaking being in the Olympics for those locally and across the country.

“It will create motivation for the young people coming up in the breaking scene and overall we think that it’s going to be a really positive experience for everybody,” Castillo said.

Isaac Witte, 14, of Silver Spring, won the youth division of Rock the Box at previous competitions and said he was excited to be back competing again.

“It was really fun to be back dancing again and the competition is great,” Witte said. “Today was just really fun, I got to get back into it. It was great to be back dancing and I’m excited to keep going and keep growing.”

Zak Grabowski of North Carolina has won three major competitions and said he was excited to be back competing again after coronavirus canceled many of his in person competitions over the last year.

“It makes everything seem normal again,” Grabowski said.

And his goals for the future?

“I would like to be as close as I can to a world champion,” Grabowski said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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