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Breakdancing Classes Help Create Confidence in Kids

PROVO, Utah — Nestled in an unassuming strip mall, you’ll find what appears to be a typical dance studio — with typical classes, and typical kids like Austin Colyar.

Although it looks like he’s enjoying himself just as much as any of the other kids, his mom had to twist his arm to get him here.

“Sometimes he would get emotional in the car when we’d drop him off, and he knew he had to breathe deep,” said Kirsti Colyar. “It took a lot of courage to come.”

Once the more traditional classes come to a close, it’s easy to see why. Students form a circle, and one by one, they take their turn showing off their “typical” moves — if by “typical” you mean “breakdancing.”

Deon Thomas runs this place — and she admits that when you think “Provo,” you probably don’t think of breakdancing.

“Yeah.  Probably not,” she said with a laugh.

She’s hoping to turn that idea on its head.

“When I was young and I loved it and I wanted it, I had nowhere to go. You just teach yourself down in your bedroom, or you get with your friends down in a shed.

And so that was kind of the main reason why I wanted to start it, to give kids a chance and a place to gain the skill.She calls it “Breakin’ Circles,” but the shy kids probably call it “torture.”

“They’ll come in, and they’ll want to do it, and they’ll be excited to do it, but they’ll be terrified to do it,” Thomas said.

This isn’t just about replicating steps — it’s about putting yourself on display.

“Yes, we’re learning things together, but in the end, it’s them going out, them doing the moves, them creating, and having everyone cheer for them,” Thomas said.

Thomas quickly came to learn that the kids who had anxiety about showing what they’d learned in front of a circle of others often had surprising reasons.

“It usually happens after a couple of classes,” she said. “A parent will come up to me and just say ‘Thank you. This has just been so huge, and this is why.’”

Even at the youngest of ages, kids can carry heavy burdens.

“We have kids going through divorce,” Thomas said. “We have other kids who’ve lost parents. We have one sweet kid in the middle of cancer. We have kids that don’t really have anything else. And so they tried this, and this has become their identity.”

Thomas says she tries her hardest to focus on her most reluctant students, and help

“Second class, we get them out there,” she said. “If they’re still feeling nervous, I’ll go out there with them, and we’ll do what we learned in class, because I saw them do it in class. And then after that, they gain a little confidence, and the fear starts to subside.”

Even for kids like Austin, sparring with something as simple as shyness — breakdancing has made all the difference.

“He has more confidence to be at school, and be in crowds of people, and not feel that he has to be shy or be to the side,” said Kirsti Colyar.

“I’m getting better and better because I’m not that shy anymore,” Austin said.

Thomas believes it all comes down to kids simply needing something to excel in — and while breakdancing may not be “typical,” she says it can make all the difference.

“I hope that they realize they can be themselves,” she said. “Identifying a fear and facing it and squashing it.”




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