Sometimes we meet the most interesting people when we are doing most mundane of things. For example, I have been trying to reduce the size of my book collection for several months now. This has meant several trips to stores that sell secondhand books in Edmonton and Saskatoon and at Greenwater Lake Provincial Park. It has also meant placing numerous ads on Kijiji. One man who came to buy a few of the books noticed that I had more books in piles by the wall. As he sat down to look through the piles of books, we chatted.
He mentioned that new books cost quite a bit so he prefers to buy used. I said that as a consumer I understood what he meant; you can read a book in a few hours or a few days. However, as a writer, I know how many hours of work goes into producing a book and, from that point of view, books are not expensive at all. He said he understood. As a dancer, it can take him many hours to put together a routine that may last for only one; it is hard for people to understand that they are paying for all the hours of preparation time as well as performance time.
Bank Preeyapong is a b-boy or breakdancer, and a very good one. He began dancing at the age of 16 after seeing some friends doing it. After giving it a try, he didn’t want to stop…and 12 years later he is still breaking, albeit on the other side of the world.
Bank grew up in Thailand, a country where breakdancing is very popular. When he finished high school, he earned a degree in accounting from Burapha University. At the same time, he continued to dance and taught breakdancing to kids. While teaching a group of children at a local church, Bank met a young woman from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who was in Thailand doing volunteer work. Though not a breakdancer herself, Rachel was a fan of the art…and fast became a fan of a certain Thai b-boy, too! The feeling was mutual. Today, the couple are married and living in Saskatoon with their son.
I asked Bank if people are surprised to hear that their financial services advisor is big into breaking. “Yes,” he said. “When I tell people that I have graduated in accounting and am a breakdancer, they are always surprised. They are even more surprised when they see me in a suit and then in a hat and baggy clothes!”
Bank’s b-boy name is Bank4g which stands for ‘Bank for God’. He performs with the crews Rock for Life, Alpha Kids and Concrete Mentality.
When Bank had selected the books he wanted and left, I checked out his dancing online. Wow! Impressive. He can perform moves that I didn’t even know were possible – and I have been studying dance all my life. Bank4g is so good, in fact, that he has performed in some well-known music videos and commercials, including one for Coca Cola.
His favourite move, the 1990, is also one of the hardest in breakdancing. It involves spinning on one hand. When he was 19, Bank4g was able to spin around five or six times! Now, at the old age of 28, he can only manage a couple of turns. He explains, “To produce more than one spin in a row takes a lot of skill and strength, mostly because the weight of your whole body is all on one hand while continually spinning.”
If Bank4g had to describe his style of breaking, he would call it ‘Power Trick Head’. However, he doesn’t like to be confined to a single style but prefers to mix things up and do whatever feels right in the moment. Nevertheless, power tricks and power moves are the areas in which he truly excels.
When Bank isn’t busy with his online financial services business or spending time with his wife and son, he can be found breaking with his crews at the U of S, a local dance studio or a friend’s house, or teaching classes and individual lessons at Dance INK or for Avalon Community Association.
When I asked Bank what it was that drew him to breakdancing and kept him breaking all these years, he replied, “One thing about breaking that I like the most is that there is no structure, I can dance however I feel. All my emotions can be expressed through dance with no structure or rules that I have to follow.” He continued, “I like to dance with friends. Breaking is a battle against one other, communicating emotions to others, it’s like a language. If I’m just dancing by myself not only is it boring, but artistically something is missing. Plus, it’s way more hype with others.”