Mitti Kawinsangkom grips the railing of a fence with both hands, raises himself so that his whole body is suspended in the air at an angle of more than 90 degrees relative to the ground, and freezes for at least three seconds. In this way, the 26-year-old does his break dance.
Ten years ago, Mitti was stunned by the freaky dance style he first saw on television. He didn't even know what it was, or what it was called. "Wow!" Mitti felt when he first saw it. "How do they do that?"
Today, Mitti stuns others with his own freaky style, which he says is in every way against the laws of nature and gravity. "It's freestyle dancing and never repeats itself but is continually evolving," says the third-year student of Communication Arts at Dhurakij Bundit University.
"In the past when the dancers spun on their heads upside down on the floor, we thought it was the absolute extreme. But these days the dancers are close to flying."
Mitti has competed in 18 contests in the past 10 years and won a title in every one of them, always ranking in the top three. He won the first prize at his first competition, only one year after he started break dancing.
"I went to the first couple of contests just for fun," Mitti says. "But I won both of them. And it made me realise that I was not bad," laughs the Bangkok born Mitti.
Mitti says he's not an award hunter, but does it for different reasons at different periods of time. "When I realised I was good, I wanted to win more and more to prove it to myself. But later, I started to realise that it was about more than just winning, but about discovering myself and my style."
It's not acceptable when break dancers copy others, he says. Good dancers must create their own signature dances and Mitti is looking for his. "If I dance and don't win an award, I don't mind because I do what I want, how I want. I won't change the style just to have the judges say I'm the winner."
Dance contests are fascinating to Mitti. "It's not like a football game where the players know they win if they score goals. In dance contests, the dancers don't know. We have to win the hearts of the audience, even though we know we might not be as good as the other contestants. But we have to fight with our whole heart to make the audiences like us, have fun with us, and let people see that we're real."
He learned to apply this attitude to his daily life. "There's a way out to everything. It's not just saying that 'When there's a will, there's a way'. It's the real action, if we keep pushing, everything is possible."
Over the past 10 years, there were times when Mitti wanted to have a break, but he never thought about giving it up. He says break dancing was not well known in Thailand when he first started. Only in the past three years have people become familiar with it, and its popularity has been rising ever since.
"There was no place for us to practise. When we used space in the department stores, the security guards came to 'shoo' us away. When we used space around the corners of buildings, people thought we were there to bully people. When we went to ask for sponsors, we were not only rejected, but sometimes we were asked to leave.
"It made me feel so low. I felt that I had to fight to gain public acceptance, not for myself but for the dance."
To Mitti, break dancing is an art. Dancers mix all kinds of styles to create stunning postures, such as yoga, gymnastics, martial arts and even animal movements. The more dancers create new postures, the more unique they are, he says. However, Mitti emphasises safety. Good fundamentals and regular practice are required. He never took dance lessons, but practised by himself and with his friends six days a week for the first six years to gain a solid foundation.
"People instinctively protect themselves from injury. When they're going to fall, they will fall in a way to save their heads and faces. Some postures can be risky, but the human instinct tells them not to be too risky.
"But if people never did crazy things, man would never have walked on the Moon. And if people don't get crazy, there would be no one daring to lie about walking on the Moon," he say with a smile.
No matter how much Mitti loves dancing, he never thinks about taking it as a career. "I don't want to be a dancer because I can't do break dancing alone. I don't want to be an instructor because when I learn it, I learn it by myself. I don't see why people need to pay a lot of money to take a class. I can just give them free advice." Mitti used to teach at a leading indie school in the Sukhumvit area, but he says the pay was not worth the effort.
Mitti is still active in dancing competitions. In this way, he and other members of the "SpinControl" team are building a reputation that they hope will support a freelance career. "The more we win, the more people know about us, and the better chance we have of getting a job," Mitti says.
Mitti earns about Bt8,000 to Bt10,000 a month, and no longer asks for a monthly allowance from his parents.
He can be reached at (089) 770 3316.
By Rojana Manowalailao