Rotterdam is the pre-eminent cultural city in the Netherlands. The city is bursting with talent and grassroots initiatives in the fields of street art, hip-hop and street sports; from graffiti art to skaters, from breakdancers to BMX enthusiasts and from street footballers to hip-hop artists. During the Rotterdam Street Culture Weekend (RSCW) a multitude of street-culture movements will be gathering to showcase their skills and to let the audience see and hear what they stand for. Thanks to the Game Changers campaign, we can get to know the heroes of the various scenes before the start of RSCW and we highlight a number of Game Changers in this showcase.
Breakdance has always been central to the life of Tilburg-born Rotterdam citizen Menno van Gorp. Menno: ‘I’ve been breakdancing for some twenty years now, and was elected world champion three times. Since 2005 I have been part of the breakdance crew Hustle Kidz/Def Dogz. I’m sponsored by Red Bull, which has allowed me to make a living out of my art form. There are only ten people in the world who can call themselves Red Bull All Stars’.
‘Now that I have won three world titles I have the liberating feeling that I can do what I want in dancing. I exercise harder than even and with more pleasure than before. Of course, I am keeping a close eye on the 2024 Olympic Games, where breakdancing will be an Olympic discipline for the first time. Actually, I see that as the last great arena where I will really go for gold’.
Menno also feels a strong bond with Rotterdam. ‘At the moment I’m busy opening a facility on the Groene Hilledijk (South) where athletic movement will be key. It’s going to be called Out of the Box Movement, a place where anyone can get the most from their body. Breakdancing is something you must live; something you must be involved in every day to raise your game. There is currently nowhere like this in Rotterdam, and I want to open a site that empowers the ongoing building of the new breakdance scene in Rotterdam’.
Tawatha is a born- and-raised Rotterdam resident of Dutch-Indonesian descent, who has been dancing since she was five and singing since she was seven. Tawatha: ‘At home I always used to dance along with the video clips of Janet Jackson. When I was five, I took street dance lessons with a dance team called : S-Tripple’T. We were a very ambitious team, exercising as many as five times a week, and when I was eleven we came second in the street dance World Championship. When I was nine, I got to know Lloyd Marengo of Hiphophuis, which is when I fell in love with the illusory nature of the dance style called popping. When I was a child, the robot and waves really seemed like magic to me. After that I started freestyling and 1-to-1 dance battles in the Netherlands. Later I featured in the Lost Toys theatre show together with Lloyd’.
‘In 2008, I got in touch with Hitmaster Fish and he introduced me to the international scene. As a street artist, I posed with him as a silver-coloured robot in the centre of Rotterdam. As I went along, my love of dance grew more and more; I was inspired to start travelling and to research the history of the art form myself. I took private lessons from many pioneers in America, building a reputation for myself by winning dance battles in New York, Los Angeles and at the OG Poppers/Boogaloo Picnic in Oakland’.
Rotterdam means much more to Tawatha than its international connections: ‘To me, Rotterdam is an outstandingly artistic multicultural city that offers many opportunities. Having grown up in the city, I am used to its various cultures and I know my way around them. I have noticed that in countries like the USA different groups sometimes live quite separately from one another. Things are different here, where the various cultures have really connected’.
Liziano likes to engage in creative activities. Not just freerunning, but fashion, music, photography and videography as well: ‘I am not a party animal and you won’t catch me hanging around on some square. I prefer to hang on buildings, and I try to surround myself with inspiring people. At this point in time I’m particularly engaged with the sports people with whom I train, or with creative people who inspire me’.
Liziano: ‘I used to be quite busy, always on the move, but without a clue about what I really wanted to do. My father put me on the track of American music, and I listened to a lot of 50 Cent, Lil’ Wayne and Eminem. I once saw some dudes freerunning outside my house, and those jumpin’ boys caught my attention right from the start. It made things tangible for me, giving me access to street culture within the Netherlands. It seems to have been the right access for me; from the freerunning scene I got in touch with other creative people in the worlds of music and fashion’.
Liziano is sure he’ll find such creative people in the city of Rotterdam: ‘To me, Rotterdam stands for opportunities. It’s a city full of inspiring individuals and idiosyncratic people. All those people, with talents in all kinds of domains, get together and form a real hub of creativity. All of that is inspiring, and makes Rotterdam unique from my perspective’.