On a line of blue springboards at Hardkore Parkour, Abenamar Honrubia, better known in the dance world as BenStacks, warmed up by cartwheeling into a back handspring and finishing the sequence with a front flip.
They’re basic moves for Honrubia, but they’re also the fundamentals that will vault him onto the world stage thousands of miles away in Nagoya, Japan.
The 33-year-old Las Vegas native will compete Saturday in the Red Bull BC One World Championship, one of the biggest b-boy competitions in the world and the most significant of Honrubia’s career as a professional dancer. Fans can watch a livestream of Honrubia’s performance between 2:20 a.m. and 4:45 a.m. PST, or watch replays after the fact, at redbull.tv/BCOne.
“It’s the biggest stage for a b-boy competition. Who wins that is the world champion,” Honrubia says. He’ll be one of 16 competitors from around the world vying for that title. There wasn’t a Red Bull BC One national competition in 2016; instead members from the Red Bull BC One organization hand-picked this year’s competitors. Honrubia was chosen based on his performance in the 2015 national competition.
Honrubia began dancing at age 13 after watching local dance crews battle at parks and underground hip-hop festivals. Though breakdance classes are now offered at places like Studio One’s Summerlin Dance Academy, at the time, “b-boying,” or “breaking,” was primarily a street dance style. Footwork, spins and floorwork in which performers quickly thread their hands between their feet characterize the style. Dancers are known as b-boys and b-girls. Twenty years ago, Honrubia also didn’t have access to YouTube or the wealth of information on the internet, so he grew up learning the art of b-boying through the local Vegas scene.
“That’s what attracted me to dance in general, was seeing guys do head spins and windmills,” Honrubia recalls. “It was just those flashy moves that really got me interested in it, so I’ve been a b-boy ever since.”
His freshman year at Green Valley High School, Honrubia started his own crew, dubbed Knucklehead Zoo, with five other students. Through this group, Honrubia got his first taste of international competition when the group traveled to places such as England, Holland and Germany to compete. More than a decade later, the crew still exists, having grown and added younger members.
Eventually, Honrubia and a couple of other members from Knucklehead Zoo merged with members from another local crew, Full Force, to create Super Cr3w. That group went on to win season two of “America’s Best Dance Crew.”
As soon as Honrubia graduated high school, he considered himself a professional dancer. At 17, he secured his first real gig working as a dancer at Ocean Park theme park in Hong Kong for three months.
“It was a funny gig, I don’t think I would do that gig nowadays, but at the time, it was crazy. I just came out of high school and got booked on this job,” Honrubia says. “It was definitely the beginning of this career.”
In the years since then, he’s continued to travel for competitions, both solo and with Super Cr3w, and danced with the Jabbawockeez residency on the Strip since it opened six years ago.
He trains four days a week with the Jabbawockeez, as well as putting in hours on his own before those rehearsals. The flips and tricks at Hardkore Parkour plus conditioning in the gym are also part of his weekly regimen. Because b-boy competitions are made up of a series of freestyle battles, Hourubia doesn’t choreograph specific sets. Instead, he hones his overall technique and prepares moves or sets he can pull off during the competition.
“It took a long time to get to where I’m at now and now I have a good understanding of how to tie it all together — the power moves, the foundation, and also the individual moves that I do, the signiture stuff,” Honrubia says. “And to be honest, I’m still learning. Every competition I do, every show, I still learn a lot, and I learn from my peers, from other dancers.”
Read more from Sarah Corsa at reviewjournal.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @sarahcorsa on Twitter.