Breakdancing crew brings their unique style to the theatre

Breakdancing is moving from the street to the stage in Australia as fans emulate the enormous success the dance form has found in Europe.

Nick Power has been a "B*boy" for 25 years and is the choreographer for a new theatre production, Cypher, which will run at the Melbourne Arts Centre.

"A hip-hop jam is mostly improvised and you're reacting to the music and the moment," he told News Breakfast.

"As I've choreographed Cypher, I've used that style and feeling and taken it into a more traditional theatre context, but still keeping it true to the culture of hip hop."

Mr Power said most breakdancers were self-taught and honed their craft by practising with their "crew".

"You learn in a different way to traditional dance forms," he said.

"You don't go to a studio, you learn off friends and do 'battles' and things like that."

"Tass" is one of four dancers in Cypher and said the dance form deserved to be treated as genuine theatre, not merely second rate to traditional dance forms.

"Hip-hop hasn't been around for 500 years, but ballet has," he said.

"But in the last 40 years hip-hop has grown faster than any other dance, any other movement.

"So where will hip-hop be in 500 years?"

The hip-hop subculture welcomes outsiders but is laden with unsaid rules and protocol.

There are particular hand gestures dancers use to convey feeling, and etiquette about how to behave during meetings.

A cypher — the namesake of Mr Power's show — is a particular ritual where people form a wide circle and anyone can show off their moves in the middle.

Teens of the '90s might be most familiar with breakdance battles after one was featured in the video clip to Run DMC's song, It's Like That.

Mr Power said the dance style had found a base in Australia, and even snuck into traditional dance companies' training.

"I know companies such as Australian Dance Theatre have used it as part of their repertoire," he said.

"Companies like Stalker Theatre and Tracks Dance Company have both used breaking as a form to connect with community and create fusion in their styles.

"So I think in Australia it's had an influence."

Still, he said the Australian scene had a long way to go before reaching the dizzying heights found in Europe.

"I went there and saw this incredible jam where 10,000 people come to see the battles in Paris," Mr Power said.

"It's on a level where some of the battles are held where The Rolling Stones play, for example, so it's really incredible.

"And it's talked about in the street, it's in the consciousness."