Tim Uomoto and Rick Chon have been break-dancing for ten years. It started as a way to express themselves as teens, but has evolved into a way for the duo to enact a tangible difference in the lives of inner city youth. Chon, 26, a Korean American from Tacoma, and Uomoto, 26, who is Japanese and Caucasian, are graduates of the University of Washington. They became friends with a common appreciation for dance and what it can do to transform someone’s life. Chon and Uomoto saw that many youth found confidence, talent and a reason to stay off the streets through breakdancing. They established a non-profit group, Outshine Productions, to support the breakdancing art.
“One of our motivations is to show how much talent exists in the Northwest from these breakdancers,” said Uomoto. “We try to fly people in from around the country to battle local b-boys and get as much exposure as possible.” Exposure is an important element of Outshine’s cause. Since a talent in dancing is rarely sustaining for young people, a career pursuing it is not considered a possibility nor achievable for most. Since there are few to no outlets for dance skills or advancement, most stop dancing. Chon and Uomoto believe that increasing national awareness of the talented Northwest breakdancing scene can drive more support for the artistry in the region and career options in dance for inner city youth, who would otherwise have few options than to join gangs or participate in destructive behavior. One of their biggest goals is to offer breakdancing classes to inner city youth.
The duo have been busy—starting the Northwest Battle Series last year and coordinating the Northwest Sweet Sixteen, a contest composed of the sixteen best break-dancers in the area. Uomoto said his group is excited to perform at “Headlines” so “people will get to see what’s happening in the community,” he said. “It’s also a chance for us to stay in touch with our roots— the API community.”