Check Out The Incredible Body-Bending Dance Moves Of The Bed-Stuy Veterans

November 26, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

Check out the moves of 30-year-old Shawn “Puba” Theagene and Justin “Rain” Quinones, two members of the Bed-Stuy Veterans, a dance troupe in Brooklyn that will soon be celebrating its 12 year anniversary. According to DNAinfo, the Veterans have auditioned for American Idol and are gearing up to release a documentary next year about the group’s origins and its style of dance, known as brukup. They’re also a local community leaders who fill halls of up to 1,500 fans, and inspired others to create a “dance agency and battle platform” that teaches brukup and other styles of dance.

“In Jamaican patois, brukup translates into “broke up,” and describes a style comprised of different elements of dance,” noted DNAinfo. “Originated by George ‘Brukup’ Adams in the early 1990s, the reggae dancehall-based genre moved to New York City, where groups like Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy Veterans popularized the art form.”

Theagene was one of the more than eight member crew’s founders, when he discovered the Jamaican-inspired dance style as a teenager in 1994. It saved him from a life of drug dealing and gang-banging, he told the site, and now he and his crew use the dance to inspire others in the community to do the same. “Brukup changed a lot of neighborhoods from people that were doing drugs and gang-banging,” he said. “We pretty much changed people doing negative things into positivity. We made dancing cool.”

The dancers often represent an “entire neighborhood,” which comes out in support for the shows, according to manager Shawn Griffith. It’s a highly spiritual form of dance:

Every action means something to the individual and no two moves are the same, according to its followers. Gestures reflect experiences and everyday life for the dancers — arms and fingers cock back as animated guns, while aggressive steps mimic snatching opponents’ hearts.

Every performer is telling a story:

Each performer creates a character, with members boasting nicknames such as “Fat Boy,” “Ghost” and “Konqueror.”

The identities encourage BSV members to form their own paths and keep their methods “unorthodox and extraordinary,” where no two dancers are the same, Quinones said.

Brukup, to BSV, is a culture. “In our mind, we try to be as clear and free as possible. Brukup is the Brooklyn kung-fu,” Theagene explained. “It’s very sacred. Like martial arts, everyone can be in it, but not everyone can be a master. This is our way of life.”