#12: Ian Flaws
Hip-hop dance was born on the street, but for talented practitioner Ian Flaws, it’s also a tool to raise kids up off of that hard road. And as studied as Flaws is in making those twisted moves in impossible physical configurations, he’s just as much a gifted teacher, sharing the rules of hip-hop to help youngsters fly. Flaws also holds together a community, and has for the last five years, holding motion workshops and dance events and teaching kids at his Bboy Factory school. Learn more about Flaws from his answers to the 100CC questionnaire, which follow.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Ian Flaws: The “Funky Drummer,” Clyde Stubblefield. As drummer for the legendary James Brown, his drumbeats are by far the most sampled in hip-hop history and represent the essence of rhythm that my dance is based on. I can't imagine a greater honor than to break live with him on the drums.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
All the YouTube content creators like Gary Vaynerchuck, Prince Ea and Infinite Waters, who are inspiring many millions of people to pursue their dreams and follow their passions. I love the idea that these modern mentors are making abundant livings by literally giving their wisdom freely to the world via Internet programs that in turn pay them by generating huge numbers of viewers and ad revenues.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
In dance, I look forward to seeing the "dab" and the "bottle flip" dying. But at the same time, I worry they will only be replaced by some other trend void of real substance. So I guess a more honest answer is that I hope to see the trend of trends die and be replaced with reverence for more meaningful movements.
What's your day job?
As the owner of a business, I wear many hats. I don't think of any of it as a day job as much as a lifestyle I'm blessed with. My most consuming responsibility is managing the Bboy Factory and all programs that happen there. I also teach throughout the Front Range as an enrichment teacher at several Denver Public Schools, as well as after-school programs for the Denver Public Library. Between the public programs and the studio, I teach five days a week. I also have different residencies throughout the year, including at CU Boulder and at the Colorado Conservatory of Dance. I consistently work with other Denver creatives to cultivate cultural events, so I spend a fair amount of time meeting and communicating with other artists and colleagues. Currently I am working as the local representative for an upcoming international dance festival coming to the Denver Center for Performing Arts this fall.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Ha! I would hire a business manager and take a long vacation. Honestly, though, I love what I'm doing, and money wouldn't change my course. However, I do dream of the Bboy Factory becoming sustainable without my constant management. With unlimited funds, I would love to expand the facility to include education space for visual arts and music programs similar to what we already provide for our dance.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I absolutely love living and working in Denver. I am addicted to the energy of a booming city. There has been such an explosion of growth in recent years. Everywhere you look, there are cranes, and for me the arts and culture scene has that same energy. It's exciting to be involved and to witness the rising tide raise all ships. So many of my peers are thriving as artists/creatives, and I'm grateful to be a part of that.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I love the art scene in Denver and truly believe the city has done a great job in recent years to cultivate quality art. I suppose I would like to see more spaces for live performance art; however, I believe it is our responsibility also as artists to create what we wish to see, whether or not it's funded or built by the city. That is why the Bboy Factory is a business and not a nonprofit, even though it is as much a community center as anything else.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I'm a huge fan of so many artists in Colorado, so this is a really hard question for me to answer. However, I really do want to shout out my good friend and close colleague DJ A-L. In recent years, I have seen this DJ cultivate some of the best parties in Colorado. Recently, it seems he has some huge event happening nearly every weekend. Frankly, it's hard to keep up. He has been booking some of the best shows in the city at Ophelia’s, as well as organizing the ’90s SNAP party there, which sells out month after month. Just in the past year, he has brought to Denver the Egyptian Lover, Cut Chemist, Nu Mumark, Skeme Richards, DJ Spinna, Amerigo Gazaway, Peanut Butter Wolf — and the list goes on and on. Recently, he played the opening of the Basquiat exhibit at MCA Denver. For a decade, he has been a staple on The Eclipse Show on KGNU. Furthermore, he is a positive role model in the hip-hop community. He has grown into a staple DJ in the Colorado dance community and regularly works as an educator through the local nonprofit Youth on Record, teaching music production to inner-city high school students. Basically, if I see DJ A-L behind anything, I trust it's going to be great.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
This is a big year for me, as we are celebrating five full years at the Bboy Factory. I continue to teach at several schools in the city and run all our programs at the studio. Furthermore, I'm organizing our Bboy Factory fifth-anniversary event, coming up June 3. This event will bring top-level b-boys from around the country to compete here in Denver. I'm bringing in some global dance icons to judge the competition and teach workshops at our studio, as well. I'm the local representative for the international hip-hop theater festival Breakin’ Convention, coming to the Buell Theater in early November. My role is to help them cultivate local talent and organize a successful festival of hip-hop culture and dance.
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I'm also intent on creating time to travel and compete with my own crew, Ironlungs. As much as I have worked to strengthen our hip-hop dance community locally, I still have a strong individual desire to be the best b-boy I can be, and that requires intense devotion to my own training and lifestyle. No matter what, I intend to continue bringing authentic hip-hop education to the Mile High.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
There's a young dancer named Enock Kadima. He's a hip-hop dancer who has been dominating the local competitive scene for the past couple of years. This year, his group, the Nasty Kidz, has been getting a ton of performance opportunities. He's been working to become a quality teacher. He's also working hard to become a skilled videographer. With the combination of these talents, I truly believe he will become one of the top hip-hop dancers in the entire world in years to come — he’s that good.
The Bboy Factory Fifth Anniversary Jam includes main-event competitions in various categories, beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at the Beat, 1221 Pecos Street. Workshops follow on Sunday, June 4, at the Bboy Factory, 6401 Broadway. Check the Bboy Factory Facebook page for updated details. Learn more about Ian Flaws and Bboy Factory online.