It all began when 19-year-old Yvon Soglo, a.k.a. Crazy Smooth (Smooth to his friends), watched the 1984 movie Breakin’ in his friend’s basement. The street dance in the film spoke to him so deeply that he went to New York to meet the actual performers, and became a self-taught b-boy.
Now 34, Smooth is artistic director of the wildly successful, Ottawa-based Bboyizm, a street dance company that has toured across Canada.
Born in Benin in West Africa, Smooth was raised in Aylmer, Que., where he was into sports, particularly soccer. He studied psychology at a CEGEP, and worked as a cook and a youth facilitator. To generate extra money, he began to teach breaking in 2002, and discovered that he could make a living out of dance. He created his Bboyizm company in 2004, motivated by purist instincts.
Says Smooth: “There were a lot of dance companies that fused street dance with jazz, ballet or contemporary. I felt that the genuine aesthetic of street dance was not being represented on stage. I wanted to create a dance company that would perform authentic street dance.”
Smooth went even further by crafting full-length productions that dealt with themes. His first show IZM examined the hip-hop culture of b-boying and rocking. His new production Music Creates Opportunity looks at how street dance can show emotion. As well as breaking and rocking, MCO (as Smooth calls it) also incorporates house and South African pantsula. As the company motto says: “Dance to express! Not to impress.”