Watch: These Differently-Abled Dancers Are Pushing the Limits of Breaking

There's a tradition in hip-hop culture of reclaiming negative words as positive ones. That's why you might hear things like "nasty" or "bad" as compliments. The same goes for ILL-Abilities, a breaking crew comprised of differently-abled dancers:

"The 'ill' does not refer to 'sick' or 'unwell' but rather to incredible, amazing, intricate, talent," they write on their website. "Rather than seeing the negative limitations of 'disability,' this crew focuses on their positive, or 'ill,' abilities."

A new video for NOWNESS, directed by 2018 25 to Watcher Jacob Jonas, shows just how "ill" these dancers are:


The crew defines "ill-ability" as "creating advantages from disadvantages" and "an adaptation of power, strength and creativity." It's clear from the video what they mean: The crew isn't just breaking, they're pushing the form by tapping into what makes them different.

The result is inspiring, and often mind-blowing. One dancer can do a series push-ups with neither of his feet touching the ground. Another seems to be able to accomplish everything most break dancers do on two legs with only one leg.

The ILL-Abilities dancers also teach breaking workshops for people of all abilities, opening the doors of this breathtaking form to everyone.

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Dancers at work in USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance's facilities. Photo by Ema Peter, Courtesy USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance

Meet 5 Recent USC Kaufman Grads Making Waves in the Dance Industry

Since welcoming its first freshman BFA class in 2015, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance has made a name for itself. The Los Angeles dance program is known for creating versatile artists in a collaborative, innovative training environment, and its alumni are already making bold professional leaps.

Dance Magazine caught up with five recent grads to see where they've landed and how USC Kaufman and its career services department prepared them for their future in the dance industry.

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July 2021