Illest pop-up shop @HNLNIGHTMARKET this Saturday from 6-11pm. We’ll have a preview of our Kaka’ako store opening products & be releasing a special i&i collaboration with In4mation. @in4mation_ @illestbrand #illest …
East3: Break down a little about your self and what you represent?
Bonita: What up! My name is Bonita Lovett aka “Bgirl Bonita”, originally from Phoenix, AZ, and now residing in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve been dancing since I can remember, coming from a very soulful & musical family full of singers, dancers and performers. Family parties listening to James Brown, Temptations and Smokey Robinson was a common thing. My parents put me in dance school at 3 years old, exposing me to Ballet, Tap and Jazz, which is what I studied heavily for 15 years. I knew I wanted to be a dancer but I never imagined that I would fall in love with Hip-Hop and it would change my life. I’m a member of Legendary Rock Steady Crew and The Beat Freaks.
East3: Describe the moment you became aware of Hip Hop and decided this is the lifestyle you wanted to be a part of?
Bonita: I had been exposed to what I would call ‘Breakdancing’ since elementary school, from all my cousins that would do windmills and waves in the 80′s. Haha. It wasn’t until 2001 that I was re-introduced to what I would know as Hip-Hop. The culture, the scene, the party, the cypher, the battle. I remember seeing my first teacher, House, President of Furious Styles Crew, getting down in a cypher, sliding on his head, shuffling around, not understanding anything he was doing, but realizing, ”That’s what I want to do!” I remember him telling me years later, that the first time he saw me get down he knew I was going to be a Bgirl and that it was just in me. That was 11 years ago. He took me under his wing in my early years, exposing me to all the elements of Hip-Hop and schooling me. The rest is history. I fell in love that day, and never looked back
East3: Who are your greatest inspirations and mentors in Hip Hop that have inspired you to elevate and advance Breaking?
Bonita: I have a lot of inspirations. My inspirations change and I think it’s good to constantly find inspiration in lots of different things. Of course, my family is a major inspiration and always has been since day one. Today, the main source of my inspiration is really my students. I really love to teach and it’s so humbling and rewarding at the same time. Seeing the younger generation of Rock Steady rise up, becoming this monster squad, is very inspiring and they push me to be better every day. YNOT has definitely been a major inspiration of mine and continues to be, as he makes his mark all over the world. As far as mentors in Hip-Hop, I would definitely say Crazy Legs as well as Mr. Wiggles because they are my guidance in the game, from dancing to business. I look at them and respect them not only as my crew members, and mentors but dancers who have laid a strong reputation for themselves and continue to do so, successfully.
East3: Can you define what is the differences in style from a Bgirl to Bboy?
Bonita: There are a lot of differences between the style of a bboy and a bgirl. Of course, the way our bodies are built allows us to rock a different way. I think Bgirls bring a different flavor to the floor that is unique to being a female and we should continue to embrace that and allow that to shine every time we get down. I’ve never ever been someone to separate how people view bboys vs bgirls. We are all in this game together and and should been seen as equal. For me, I love to rock my earrings, my accessories, and make sure my lipstick’s right, but I’ll still throw down anytime, any place Don’t underestimate the Bgirls, we come hard and want to be respected by our skills.
East3: Can you describe your style of Breaking? What makes your style unique?
Bonita: My style of Breaking is a mix of everything I’ve learned, for all the teachers I’ve had, every style I’ve ever trained in or been exposed to, wrapped up into what I do on the dance floor. I would say my style is funky, dynamic, and a bit more sporadic these days. What makes my style unique is that I just love to dance period. I love being guided by the music and I love to do what makes my soul feel good. When I was younger in my Breaking, I was very caught up in the moves and trying to execute everything correctly but thank God that mentally left me many years ago. I just stay true to what moves me and embrace my history and that has made me the Bgirl I am today.
East3: I know you are in the cyphers and well as the competitions, can you break down the the difference between the 2 ways of dancing?
Bonita: Cyphers and competitions are two very different beasts. I believe in balance, and when I first started breaking I was encouraged to have a presence in both cyphers and competitions so I have been getting down in both of them from the beginning. Of course, there’s nothing that can replace the freedom of getting down in a cypher, just being lost in the music, exchanging with others or battling under your own terms. Competitions are very different in the sense that, it’s more of a lights, camera, action vibe. You have to put out a round that judges are going to dissect and critique that isn’t based off of really getting down, rocking nice, smoothly and funky but how complex, detailed and powerful the moves are. That’s not every competition battle but it’s a lot of what our scene has come to expect in competitions. I’ve learned to just do me. Win, lose or draw, I represent who I am and that’s it!
East3: How do you feel about the bboy/bgirl scene as a whole (cypher, events, music and style)?
Bonita: I think the bboy/bgirl scene has changed a lot but we also have to adapt to what is relevant to 2013 vs ’84 or ’98. Like I mentioned earlier, the scene is very heavy in organized competitions and for me I can choose to shy away from them or take it on and attack it. It’s a challenge for me and I’m always down to put myself out there. I always tell my students, “When you’re uncomfortable, you’re growing”, so I try to put myself in those situations too As far as events, I truly feel like there are too many and not enough quality ones. Everyone is organizing “battles” now but having no respect for putting on quality DJ’s or qualified judges. Big shout to my crew member, DJ Skeme Richards, for keeping it funky, fresh and flowing every time he’s spinning. On the style tip, I am not one to judge what anyone is doing or not doing. I just encourage people to continue changing the game with what they can bring to it. That’s what I’m trying to do too! The one thing I don’t like is when I’m in a cypher and a big light shines in with a guy holding a BIG camera trying to capture footage. Leave those moments alone. No sacred places anymore…If you were there you saw it, it you weren’t, you missed it!
East3: Do you get inspired by other art forms of Hip Hop such as a fly Piece by a Writer, a Turntablist set or a Emcee at a show? I get inspired watching and supporting Bboys, Emcees and DJs and often draw what I see, do you infuse your inspirations into your dance?
Bonita: I can say that from the beginning, when I would go to good parties on the regular, listening to Dj’s and hearing Emcee’s was crazy inspiring to me and I loved that feeling. Being surrounded by that environment is so important. It’s always nice to get caught off guard by a DJ when you’re not expecting it and you instantly want to get down! I cherish those moments because it they are so fulfilling. Shout to you, East, for always coming with the ill art and showing love to the Bgirls Definitely enjoy what the Writers are putting out and if you’ve ever been to my crib, you’ll know I can’t get enough of it.
East3: What is your greatest moment within the culture that you have experienced?
Bonita: WOW! That’s a hard question! Of course there have been so many good ones, but I would definitely have to saw the day I got down with Rock Steady. I will never forget that day. At the time I was living in AZ far away from my crew so it was difficult, but I remember feeling like my journey had only begun…I was so right. I got battled into RSC a few months later at Bgirl Fight Club, in NY, by Bboy Smerk, who is one of my favorite bboys of all time. Yes, I got smoked! hahaha Super humbling and straight motivating at the same time. That was the beginning of my walk with RSC and since then the moments just continue to get more epic and historical. Thank you to RSC for making me the Bgirl I am today.
East3: In your opinion, do you think the culture needs to preserve as well as expand into “new” elements in order for it to grow & progress? If so, can you share some thoughts/ideas?
Bonita: I don’t think it needs to expand into “new” elements at all. I do believe that there will be evolution as there always is with everything. I can say for myself, when I first came into the game, there was NO youtube, or the amount of massive battles being organized to a level where they are today. Back then people that were getting down were gaining local respect and had to travel out of their city for anyone else to even know their name. I just feel today a lot of the scene is driven by the trend, the fame, the recognition and not because they truly love it. It’s crazy to see how quick this young generation of Bboys/Bgirls has come up because the information today is so readily available. Things that we had to travel out and search for is right there on the computer for them! I guess as I get older I’m coming to understand what my elders spoke of about us at the time. I can say as long as we each do our part with passing on what we know, and sharing knowledge, there will be natural progression and growth because this next generation will take it to a whole other level.
East3: What are your current as well as future plans?
Bonita: My current plans are to continue doing what I’m doing, battle, perform, teach, create and innovate. I pray I will continue on this path for many years I have a lot of trips planned for this year already to judge, teach and perform, and I’m looking forward to continue connecting with good people all over the world! My mission is to pass on, preserve, educate and show the younger generation the opportunities that they have as a Bgirl or Bboy in the scene today.
East3: Anything you would like to say (addressing the scene, shout outs and or business plugs)?
Bonita: I’ll be dropping my website, BonitaLovett.com at the end of January so please keep a look out! Also, I recently launched a workshop series called, Rock with H.E.R. (Hip-Hop in its Essence is Real), which is bringing together some of the hard hitting females in Hip-Hop dance to inspire, honor and share our love for Hip-Hop through classes, discussions and performances. The next one will be going down on Saturday, February 9th, at NoHo PAC with Teresa Espinosa, myself and special guest Mr. Wiggles. We’ll be visiting cities all over the U.S. so please follow us on Twitter: @RockwithHER for all the information! Thank you to every Bboy, Bgirl, Popper, Locker, DJ, Writer and Emcee who is doing their part to help push our community forward. I know there are so many out there doing it every day, so thank you. Shout out to my crew, Rock Steady, to my girls, The Beat Freaks and my extended fam, The Groovaloos! All my love to my family in AZ and to my students all over the world!