From concert tours to movies and everything in between, Gabriel Jaochico, also known as B-boy Wicket, is a prominent break dancer, also known as breaker, and has touched down at Texas State to share his love for breaking with Bobcats.
In January 2023, Wicket became a guest dance lecturer and began teaching his first college class at Texas State. Christa Oliver, a dance professor who worked on a previous project with Wicket at the Zach Theatre in Austin, reached out to Wicket in December 2022 for a chance to teach in the 2023 spring semester.
It was a unique opportunity he didn't want to pass up, knowing that there are only three other universities in the country that offer breaking, or break dancing, classes: Princeton University, Arizona State University and Texas Tech University.
"This is such a rare opportunity and I've learned plenty," Wicket said. "I've never had to teach like this before and teach one move 20 different ways."
On the first day of class, students attended not knowing what to expect. Since hip-hop classes are a part of the curriculum for dance majors, many students registered to expect a regular hip-hop course. Jillian Tomasek, dance senior, quickly realized that this wasn't an ordinary lesson in hip-hop but a breaking class with a prominent name in the breaking culture.
"I told my friends that Wicket is my professor and they thought I was joking," Tomasek said. "Like how did we not know who he was prior to this class?"
Wicket's breaking journey started in San Francisco in 1993. He and his friends practiced in the garage, watch videos of legendary breaking crews like Rock Steady Crew, Air Force Crew and the Knuckle Neck Tribe and try to imitate their moves. Wicket said videos at the time were very secretive and were kept away from the public eye to not give away moves.
"They wanted to make sure nobody outside of our circle saw those videos," Wicket said. "You had to earn their trust for them to show you. It was just that rare."
It was Wicket's head spins that got him noticed by members of the Renegade Rockers, a world-renowned breaking crew. Wicket received an invitation to one of their practices and eventually became an official member of the Bay Area breaking crew.
Wicket learned personally from the greats of breaking. His mentor, Octaviano Cueto, also known as Aki Starr, was one of the originators of the Renegade Rockers who taught him moves and introduced him to other pioneers of the breaking scene in San Francisco.
Wicket performed and judged dance shows and competitions, be featured in the movie "You Got Served" and teach choreography to celebrities such as Usher and Christina Aguilera.
"Every day I'm fortunate," Wicket said. "I tell all of my students that we can only do our best one day at a time."
Grace Crain, a dance senior, recalled her first day of breaking class and the laminated badges Wicket handed out to every student. With over 30 years of experience, Wicket has badges from events and competitions, from Michael Jackson to Red Bull BC One, a global competition for breakers. Crain said the students are required to wear their badges whenever they attend class.
"In the breaking world, if you don't have your badge you wouldn't be allowed to compete," Crain said. "This is accountability."
From learning different techniques and poses to having freestyle dance sessions, Tomasek said the first week of class left her sore with calluses on her hands, which she said Wicket praised. This kind of sore has only left her striving to want to learn more about breaking and happy to be trying something new.
"I know that this is something new that I haven't felt before, and that's exciting," Tomasek said. "It's like wow, I can experience new things as a dancer."
Crain, who considers herself more of a modern dancer, has learned to use her body in ways she wasn't aware of and incorporate her style of dance into breaking. She said she's also learned to be more forgiving of herself and okay with not succeeding when it comes to trying to get a move down.
"I've been super inspired," Crain said. "Everybody gets the moves at different times and we all get excited for each other."
Breaking is a style all on its own, physically demanding of the body and involves high energy and athleticism. Wicket said breaking was once considered a performance more than a sport, being openers and closers of big events.
Now, Wicket is the advisor for Team USA's breaking team and prepping them for the Olympics 2024 in Paris after the International Olympic Committee announced breaking as an Olympic sport in 2020. He said he's ecstatic to bring breaking to the Olympics and inspire a whole new generation of breakers.
"This is the first time we're actually being featured as a new sport," Wicket said. "We finally get to showcase our skill and educate the world about our culture."
From what started in the streets of the Bronx in New York City, New York in the 1970s to being featured on a global stage, Wicket said breaking is more than a dance but a lifestyle all of its own. At 44-years-old, he's still living that lifestyle and is very grateful for what he's accomplished and the work he continues to do.
"I can't believe I'm telling students that I was in this movie or showing them a move from a music video," Wicket said. "It's all very much a 'pinch me' moment."
On Tuesday's and Thursday's from 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. at the Jowers Center room 175, students were eager to attend Wicket's class to learn something new, have fun and to dance like no one's watching.
B-boy Wicket's breaking class was held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. at the Jowers Center in room 175. To learn more about B-boy Wicket, check him out on Instagram, Twitter and Linktree.
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