Shuga Shane

by | Apr 9, 2024 | April 2024 Issue, Artists

Shuga Shane / Copyright © 2024

Shuga Shane

Artist Bio

“Shuga Shane” Montoya—a Native New Mexican—has been dancing for the past 26 years and teaching for the past 18 years. Aside from teaching, choreographing, partnering with youth outreach programs, and serving at risk youth, he also organizes events in Albuquerque such as the annual Breakin’ Hearts all ages Hip Hop event. These events invite the community together and offer a platform for people to showcase their talents in a positive way. Originally a b-boy or break-boy, Shane represents the United Hip-Hop Family Breaking Crew.

Breakin’ Hearts / Copyright © 2024

Throughout the years Shane has also expanded his dance disciplines to various styles such as Ballet, Jazz, House, Contemporary, Funk styles and Latin, and has had the honor of performing at the Annual Battery Dance Festival in NYC, Planet Indigenous in Toronto, Canada, and Kowhiti International Indigenous Contemporary Dance festival in New Zealand. Performing and working with organizations such as Festival Ballet Albuquerque, the City of Albuquerque, Native Health Initiative, Musical Theatre Southwest, Keshet, and Dancing Earth (Indigenous Contemporary Dance Company) has supported his growth as a dancer, mentor, and Artist.

Breakin’ Hearts / Copyright © 2024

Who are your top 3 favorite Hip Hop Artists?

Big Daddy Kane

How and when did you first get introduced to Hip Hop and B-Boy culture?

“Being introduced to Hip Hop Culture as a young kid would be attributed to my older siblings. They would listen to Hip Hop and Gangster Rap and we would record ourselves freestyle directly into a boombox. I have some cassette tapes of me as a kid in elementary school which is hilarious to listen to. We would bump underground artists like the Living Legends and Funk-master Flex mixtapes.”

“I first saw the dancing element from various movies. Since I was an ’80s baby, I didn’t watch this go down until the early ’90s. The movies Breakin 1 & 2, Flashdance, and believe it or not there was a scene in the movie Colors that had some poppers getting loose. I also remember a scene in Sesame Street where some OGs had a guest appearance and were getting loose.”

“The first time I was exposed to Hip Hop in person was my older brother Rudy aka ‘Versatility’ who showed me a few moves he had learned from a friend and I thought ‘Damn that’s wild! I could never do that.’ That moment happened around 1996/97. That’s when I started dancing and never looked back.”

Where do you find inspiration for your work and how do you translate that into movement?

“I find inspiration for my work in the music, the community, my crew ‘United Hip Hop Family’ (AKA ‘Ultra High Frequency), as well as the old school VHS tapes we bought as young kids from the LA Underground. Style Elements: Strategic Monsters was the first VHS I purchased. The dance at that time wasn’t easily accessible as today so you had to travel to see the pros at that time and learn as you went forward. It was also a time where other dancers didn’t want to teach unless you were repping the same crew, nobody wanted to share the ‘secret gems.’ Since we were self taught, most of our inspirations came from within our own crew. We would watch old school Kung Fu flicks and try to emulate what we saw.”

“We took our negative childhood experiences and turned it into something positive. Hip Hop never judged us and allowed us to bring ourselves into the movement as we were, we felt like ghetto superstars. To be hip means to have knowledge and intelligence and hop is movement, therefore Hip Hop can translate to Intelligent Movement.”

What is the inspiration behind the creation of Breakin’ Hearts?

“The inspiration behind Breakin’ Hearts is attributed to my crew mate, Cyrus. He is the original creator of the event and I was always involved as the youngest member of the crew. Eventually we became full partners around the 7th or 8th Annual Breakin’ Hearts event. He began mentoring me to organize my own events at a young age. Once my events were becoming more successful, we joined forces and it was a wrap after that.”

“The message of Breakin’ Hearts has always been the same: give Artists a platform to showcase their talents while creating a safe space for the community to attend. This allows Hip Hop to thrive and for Artists to be themselves, no matter the element represented. Most events were either Breaking, Graffiti, or MC battles/showcases.”

“Breakin’ Hearts is an event that encompasses all elements and all ages of Hip Hop Culture under one roof. During the start of Breakin’ Hearts there were only a few established events that would take place throughout the year but my motivation was to continue contributing to the community, not just when the annual event took place but also throughout the year. If Hip Hop could offer such a positive outlet for me and my friends and help us elevate in our lives, why wouldn’t you share that with the community at large?”

“Moving forward to our recent Breakin’ Hearts 2024 where we just celebrated our 21st annual event. What a blessing it is to continue growing, developing, and improving the event each year! We are currently expanding the event into new markets as we are getting ready to host Breakin’ Hearts at Area 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 14th, 2024. A majority of the crew has either moved on in life or have different professions now so it’s been amazing to see us all grow and succeed from where we started. What we shared in that moment of time will always remain true.”

KILLING FIELDZ vs AMIDA – Breaking 4v4 Semi Finals – Breakin’ Hearts 21 – #SXSTV

Hip Hop culture often emphasizes community and collaboration. Can you speak to the importance of these aspects in your
experience as a dancer?

“Hip Hop culture primarily speaking through the lens of breaking emphasizes community and collaboration. Without supporting and collaborating with each other no community would exist. We would just be a bunch of dancers in a room by themselves. Yes, we might compete against one another and it might look like we don’t get along, but after the battle we shake hands and the bond/friendships become stronger. That’s the power Hip Hop Culture has in the world today. I’ve traveled the globe and had movement conversations and exchanges with people on the floor that have created a mutual respect and friendship between each other. We can’t even speak the same language but the music and dance connects us together. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, or ethnicity. It’s worldwide!!! Hip Hop is peace, love, unity, and having fun.”

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a professional dancer, and how have you overcome them?

“Some challenges I have personally faced as a professional dancer would be the lack of financial and outside support. At the time I started dancing it was though as something that hoodlums did, wasn’t positive, or wasn’t respected by the general public quite yet. We would get kicked out of places for dancing, and I would even get suspended at school.”

“As time moved on and I began sharing with youth as a young adult through teaching and guest performances. Even studios would try to pay us less then other dance disciplines and would never quite give the respect they did with Ballet and Jazz, etc. they thought we just threw our bodies around and did whatever. It’s a discipline, there are foundational moves, but the beauty of Hip Hop in general was also the ability to have individual styles and flavor and to be yourself. That’s what makes it so different, all the other dance disciplines didn’t have that element, you had to look like everyone else did, point your foot, be a robot.”

“Hip Hop has the self expression and attitude people just didn’t quite understand yet. As time moved on, the public began to see the positive impact it was creating and the respect was earned. This opened the doors and there were some great people who saw and believed in what we stood for. It definitely didn’t happen overnight and as it continued to become a worldwide phenomenon, Hip Hop would generate love and respect from the general public.”

“Fast forward to 2024 and Breaking is now in the Olympics. Hopefully it will continue elevating and keep its true essence of the dance.”

How do you think b-boy culture can continue to evolve and stay relevant in the ever-changing landscape of dance and music?

“In my opinion Breaking can continue to evolve and stay relevant through the ever changing dance and music styles by staying true to its core values. Breaking is not and never will be a musical genre. B-boys and b-girls were dancing to Funk music and the inspirations were from the popular music of that time including Salsa, Jazz, Cumbia, and Rock and Roll. That’s why the classics will always remain such as Jimmy Castor Bunch, James Brown, and Dennis Coffey to name a few artists. They call us break-boys or break-girls because no matter what that funky breakdown of a song was, it was always what made people jump off.”

“The dance is changing and evolution will always occur but will always circle back to one important aspect: being yourself on the dance floor. That character and style will always take out technical movement. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. That’s why if you follow the timeline of music in Hip Hop history everyone samples the Funk music from the original artists. Even the funk artists were sampling from previous eras in time…but that’s a whole other conversation. Just look at what was happening in the ’60s and ’70s in NYC and you will have a better understanding. Hip Hop created a message that was built thru struggle and came out on top with hope.”

What advice would you give to dancers who are just starting their journey?

“Advice I would give dancers starting their journey is to keep pushing forward. Find what makes you happy and stick with it. It took many years to even get any recognition and respect. Not why we started dancing, but it’s nice to be noticed and appreciated by your fellow peers. In this world there are so many critics and seems like the people that are doing the least always have the most to say. When you come across some genuine people which you will, don’t let your ego get in the way, listen and be present. Vice Versa, we can all learn from each other. If you ever watch young kids dance they are genuine and themselves, they just be and don’t loose that essence. As a grown man I still call myself a B-Boy because when I’m on the floor the inner child and youthful Shuga Shane comes out to dance and play. We also live in a digital age and everything is documented which is different from when I grew up. Social media is interesting, just don’t let others dictate who you are or how you should be. Every day is a new day so just keep it moving and express yourself through art, whatever that means to you.”

Breakin’ Hearts Interview 2013 – Bboy Shuga Shane Profile

How do you hope to contribute to the legacy of Hip Hop culture?

“As far as how I hope to contribute to the legacy of Hip Hop culture that’s a good question. All I know is there have been many people and families that have inspirational stories from being introduced to Hip Hop. Some that talk to me years later mentioning how I inspired them to pursue dance and how encouraging my words were to them. Many times I don’t recall these moments because I just speak from within.”

“People that attended Breakin’ Hearts as young kids now bring their families to enjoy the culture. Dancers I have mentored and worked with as young kids are now adults doing amazing things in life and attribute their success to the many lessons dancing has taught them. I guess what I’m saying is that I never set foot and intended on contributing, I was always just participating.”

“As I grew up, I took on different roles in my life: dancer, performer, educator, mentor, organizer…not by choice, but where the universe led me to be. Nobody sets out thinking they’ll contribute, it’s through said actions and experiences that lead people to various levels in life.”

“Hip Hop saved me and my family from going down a negative route, therefore it’s easy to share this with people without thinking about it. It helped my physical, mental, and spiritual being and introduced me to so many different people and places. This alone is why I will never stop creating and sharing with the community. If you had a message that shaped the lives of so many people you know and uplifted them to be the best versions of theme selves why wouldn’t you share that with the world?”

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Breakin Hearts 2024 Dance Playlist on YouTube
Instagram – Shuga Shane
Instagram – Breakin’ Hearts
September 14, 2024 – Breakin’ Hearts Area 15

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Listen to select tracks from Hip Hop Artists around the world in Episode 5 of Mythic Rhythmic Presents.