Parallel (n) - something essentially similar to another; a comparable aspect.
Harry Shum Jr. of the FOX series Glee has always been fascinated with the art of dance and exploring it's similarities to sports. Inspired by Gene Kelly's 1958 Christmas Special, "Dancing: A Man's Game," as seen here via YouTube, Harry who is also a noted dancer and choreographer decided to create a modern day version of it himself. He collaborated with filmmaker Cole Waliser to bring his vision to life. Together the two teamed up with lead contemporary dancers and premier Red Bull athletes in a new video series entitled "Parallels." Utilizing visuals in slow-motion, the film shows the similarities in movement between athleticism and dance. At the end of the first installment in the series Harry Shum asks "Is sports an art form? Is dance a sport?" A reasonable question after viewing the material he presented to his audience.
The fusion of dance and sports is not a new concept. Matter of fact, it is prevalent in the sport of martial arts. For the last 20 years, an evolving trend called "tricking'" has expanded across the globe. Tricking is the art of pushing human limits and expectations through a combination of martial arts, tumbling, break dancing, kicking and flipping. Remember the commercial with Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm where they repeated, "Anything you can do I can do better?" That is basically the concept behind the highly competitive sport.
By mastering and exceeding the level of a certain skill of their opponent, the athletes in this sport force each other to do better. If a tricker sees that his opponent's weakness is kicking, then he'll do some extreme kicking exposing his opponent's weakness by pressuring the other tricker to kick. The strategy is no different from a power forward in basketball using his size to protect the hoop whenever his man goes in for a lay up. Especially if the opponent is a weak outside shooter. This action forces the other player to step outside of his comfort level. Tricking is all about stepping outside of your comfort level and improving your skills.
A very large majority of athletes involved in tricking are from a martial arts background, but there is a small following from other backgrounds like gymnastics, roller blading, ice skating, motorcross, and even cheerleading . Current tricker and film student, Jefferson Lewis, 26, believes that tricking has expanded because of YouTube and Facebook. He says that there are some who do not have a background in martial arts, but viewed the sport on YouTube and got involved by teaching themselves. Trickers research their opponent's skill level and challenge them via online videos. Then, they compete against their opponents in "gatherings." A gathering is somewhat like a dance battle or tournament. Trickers from all over the world from places like Finland, Russia, Amsterdam, and France particpate in these gatherings
One of these events is set to go down soon in the U.S. Red Bull is hosting the second annual Red Bull Throwdown in Atlanta. This tournament-style event will take place at the Tabernacle September 28th. Audiences have the opportunity to watch the 16 best tricking athletes battle head to head to earn their right to call themselves the ultimate tricker. Twelve hand-picked top athletes from around the world automatically enter the finals through an exclusive athlete invite. A panel of judges determines who will make the cut for the remaining 4 spots based on the quality of skills demonstrated in kicking, creativity and level of difficulty. Those 4 will move on to compete in the competition open free to the public.
Red Bull Thowdown organizer and former tricker, Rory Bratter, has scheduled workshops at this year's event for people of all ages who may be interested in getting involved in tricking. He says that the sport is evolving and the degree of difficulty is increasing each year because of it's competitive nature. Even trickers as young as Kiki Okubo are getting involved in the growing sport. Bratter also said that trickin' has become so widespread that celebrities like Chris Brown have used the technique in his music video for his single "Yeah 3x." Without question, tricking is definitely one of Harry Shum's "parallels" and it's an awesome fusion that can be considered in either category of dance or sport. To learn more about The Red Bull Throwdown and sign up for the workshops, visit www.redbull.com/throwdown.