May 1, 2009 / 5:49 AM / 10 years ago

Breakdancing documentary spins into fiction

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Benson Lee will adapt his breakdancing documentary “Planet B-Boy” into a narrative feature for Screen Gems.

The 2007 film focused on the international world of b-boying, commonly known in the U.S. as breakdancing. Although the urban dance’s stateside popularity waned after the 1980s, it has evolved and thrived in countries including Japan, South Korea, France and Germany, where in underground form it became more aggressive and athletic. “Bionic b-boying” is how Lee described it.

The documentary followed dancers from several continents, culminating in a competition among crews from 18 nations for the title of world champion at the Battle of the Year finals in Berlin.

The new “B-Boy” will tell the story of a legendary b-boy crew that must return to its roots to reclaim the world championship by competing against the top international breakdancing teams. The take is described as “8 Mile” meets “The Warriors.” The studio is looking for a writer.

Dave Scott, an acclaimed dancer and choreographer known in b-boy circles whose credits include “Stomp the Yard” and the “Step Up” films, will serve as choreographer.

In the ‘80s, Lee practiced breakdancing, which grew out of New York gang culture. He rediscovered his passion in the late ‘90s when he saw how the form had survived and gone global.

“Dance fads come and go, and they don’t usually come back,” Lee said. “This one did come back, stronger than ever, and on a global scale. It’s a dance for those who like hip-hop and that speaks to the youth who aren’t signing up for tap or jazz.”

Lee decided to turn his documentary into a fictional narrative when he realized that “there was a lack of very real street dance films out there.”

“B-boying is one of those street dances that has been co-opted in many films but never portrayed authentically,” he said. “I want to present b-boying for what it actually is, which is one of the most powerful street dances out there right now. And with so many countries involved, it presents a different kind of story than what we’re normally used to seeing in street dance films.”

Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters

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