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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Here's Why Getting 'Frantick' In The Underground Is A Great Thing

Isabel M. Castro |
September 2, 2013 | 10:33 p.m. PDT

When a crew of dynamic "in your face" street dancers performs The Underground: Street Chronicles Tuesday at Bovard Auditorium, Ricardo "Boogie Frantick" Rodriguez Jr. may stop the show (audio slideshow below). Frantick, an LA-based artist known for his individual style of popping and miming that comes out of deep personal struggles, battling as a dancer in underground clubs, shares his vision of street dancing's future with Neon Tommy. And talks about what he thinks might happen in his solo, "Me Against the Music."


Slideshow by Wiebke Schuster

What are we going to see when you dance? Improvisation? Or do you have the choreography worked out?

It is all improvisation. I try my best to do choreography.... I try to develop fixed points. When a ballet dancer has a fixed point, her head always faces a certain way when she does spins. If I hit the stage, I can have a limited amount of focus points, but whenever I set foot into that focus point, that style of dance will be developed right there. Sometimes, it is a feeling, I have to listen to my body a lot to understand. If I feel loose, then things are going to be loose. If I feel strong, you're going to see the power come out of it. That's the Ra.

What kind of a connection are you trying to establish between yourself and the audience?

I am actually not focusing on the audience. What I want the audience to see is a development of control and emotion. The fact that a boom box has so much coming out of it, it is that music is key. Music is life. Music is soul. It is like breathing. I am able to breathe in different ways through different sounds and I want the audience to feel that. I want them to feel me completely without them being my focus. The boom box is my focus!

Tell us about "Me Against the Music."

The music selection kind of breaks out like in everything that I dance to. I have a hip-hop song in there which is always gonna be my background, number one. Even though I'm a popper as a dancer, I will always be a b-boy at heart, and the hip-hop culture is what has been there to allow me to express myself in the ways that I have done. So there is a hip-hop track in there. There is also a Beatles song, which I just added, but it shows my funniness in character. Then I have, "Incredible," by Carnage—it's a kind of show like the Electronic Power that it could bring out when dancing to it.

How did you get into dancing?

I have always been a dancer. When I can remember my earliest memory, I was two years old and my whole family going to a movie theater and dancing on stage. Back then, the movie theaters had stages in front of the screens. We all got up and started dancing. That was like the best memory I had. My family had separated; it was kind of my way of holding onto the happiest memories.

I picked up popping when I was nine years. So I have been doing it 22 years. I incorporated a lot of b-boy moves, up rock moves, different dance like salsa and like different rhythms, even locking.

Why does dancing matter to you?

Dance plays a very strong role. It was my therapy and my way of letting my problems out, letting my stress, letting my anger out. At the same time, it kept be away from a lifestyle my older brothers lived. They were in and out of jail—one was murdered back in '95 because of gang activity. The other ended up becoming part of the neighborhood in the valley. So, I just didn't want to be a follower. I wanted to do my own thing in a unique way and at the same time hold on to the happy memories that I had and [bind] them together.

How did you get your name, and what does it mean?

I needed something that was kind of unique that represents how I feel as a person, you know? At the time, I was kind of angry and I'm a very soft-spoken person—I still am, but I held a lot of things inside. So Frantick was the only thing I could think of, and it's what happens to me when I'm dancing—sounds like the total opposite of my character. And Boogie was added by my friend Patrick Cortez, rest in peace. He actually named me Boogie Frantick in the early 2000's and I kept the name in honor of him.

How do you describe your community of krumpers and poppers?

We just love being creative, being expressive and knowing that we are part of something that's bigger than us. I realized that giving back is always been my inspiration. People have always given to me. And the more I gave to others, I noticed that I would just receive so much positive energy…. Being creative is what makes you an individual in this dance scene. A lot of people think that dance is just following what is portrayed on TV and you have to be commercial, you have to be hip-hop. But in reality you just need to be you and treat whatever you want to create so you're able to be free with it.

Where do you see the future of the dance styles in The Underground going?

We may have to somehow become more formal, water it down slightly. The technicalities still need to be as raw as possible. The characters themselves are how this dance can be heard in the future.

And your future?

Popping, the style that I do, is an urban contemporary style. It is so free and you can apply it to any style of music and at the same time, it is the greatest contrast to a feminine character. A female popper and a male contemporary dancer would be "the dopest," combination. Who knows? Hopefully, that's what will happen in the future.

I hope that in the future, I can develop a school with mechanical movement and be able to train formal dancers to be stronger with the robotic movements, animation tricks and waving.


USC's Visions & Voices 2013 presents an extraordinary encore performance of The Underground: Street Chronicles at Bovard Auditorium on September 3, 2013 at 8 p.m. There are two workshops being offered on Sept. 11 and 13 at USC. Some of Boogie Frantick's professional credits include: The 2010 Academy Awards, Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee in Australia 2013, and the film Step Up 3D. He is a crew member of The Gr818ers and The Mighty Zulu Kingz. He is also a cast member and villain in The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, an award-winning original web series created by producer Jon M. Cho. 

Reach Isabel here or Weibke here.



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