Ash Cornette is a 30-year-old Tacoma computer tech. He’s also Complex.
That’s the name he uses as a B-Boy dancer.
You can call Cornette Complex. You can call him a breaker. Just don’t call him a break-dancer.
“That’s an old-fashioned term and it was created to promote it in the media,” Cornette said.
On Friday Cornette will compete against 15 other B-Boys from the West Coast at Red Bull BC One at Seattle’s EMP Museum. It’s a regional stepping stone, or cypher, to one of the world’s top one-on-one B-Boy competitions. Then on Saturday, he and fellow members of his Tacoma dance crew will compete at Massive Monkees at Showbox at the Market.
Cornette, a Spanaway native, became a B-Boy while still in junior high school. He still dances with the friends he made then as part of Tacoma-based Dance Broomz Krew. It’s a tight-knit group of eight friends, ages 27 to 31, of diverse ethnicities — all bound by their love of breaking.
“It’s such a positive way of expressing things that go on in my life — good things, bad things. It’s therapeutic. It gives me a chance to express my soul — who I am — on the dance floor,” Cornette said.
B-Boy dancing is a quadrant of hip-hop culture that includes graffiti art, DJing and MCing. The dancing uses head spins, hand stands and high-flying acrobatics. In competitions, two B-Boys will compete against each other, each trying to outdo the other and impress a panel of judges.
In those competitions, it’s the DJ who chooses the music, not the B-Boys. That unknown factor appeals to Cornette, he said.
“That’s what I like about it. If it’s a funky song, like James Brown, I can try to emulate that same funky feeling and express it in my dance,” he said.
Cornette’s 15 invitation-only competitors include Tim the Pitt, Lukie and Lunatic, all from Seattle, as well as Portland’s Impulse and Savage of Vancouver, B.C.
The competition is like boxing in some ways, Cornette said.
“You’re always sizing him up,” he said of facing an opponent. “If you have heard of him or seen him in a competition before, you have an idea (of what he can do). My battle mentality is: ‘What can I do to counter that?’”
If an opponent is more of an acrobat than a dancer, Cornette will play up his dancing skills. “I want to show him I have flavor and can hit the beat.”
When Cornette first started dancing, he said there was a higher level of machismo and trash-talking. Now, B-Boy culture is more laid back, he said. But, not always.
“I’m still aggressive when I dance. I’ve had some dancers come up to me and tell me they’re offended or thought I was mad at them. I tell them it’s just a dance — a dance fight. I’m pretty tough on myself and that’s why I come out aggressive.”
On Friday, the B-Boys will be judged on skill, style and rhythm by a panel of established dancers including Roxrite, Free and Jeromeskee. Crazy Legs will serve as the night’s MC. DJ Lean Rock will provide the soundtrack.
The winner of the Seattle Cypher will advance to the Red Bull BC One North America finals Aug. 15 in Las Vegas. The winner of that will head to Paris for the world finals in November.
Red Bull BC One Seattle Cypher
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: EMP Museum, 325 Fifth Ave. N., at the Seattle Center
Tickets: Free, all ages
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., Seattle
Tickets: $20, all ages
Information: facebook.com/massivemonkeesCraig Sailor: 253-597-8541 craig.sailor@ thenewstribune.com