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Uniting the Children of Uganda Through Breakdance and Hip Hop Culture

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Ervin Arana

While most young teenagers are struggling to find an identity within the confines of middle school peer pressure, one decided to take a different route. Ervin Arana no longer wanted to learn simply what the teachers had on the agenda, rather, his search for understanding started within the meridians of Long Beach, CA. Beat Street, a classic and influential hip hop cultural founding movie, started to have an effect on Ervin at the age of 13. His then newly developed curiosity in b-boying (or as the media labels it "breakdancing") was the sole reason why him and a few friends formed the dance crew "Ugly People."

The story behind the name "Ugly People" is one of how society treated the ghetto youth in hip hop culture. Characterizing this crew was a building team of developing enthusiasm for the dance. Although Ervin was initially attracted to the dynamic power moves of b-boying, he soon gained a better understanding. He developed a more traditional style after meeting his biggest influence, B-boy Ivan and attending The B-boy Summit in 1997. In the same year, Ervin's first guest appearance as a dancer was on Nickelodeon's "All That." Other influences, including Poe One, Zulu Gremlin, and Easy Roc, also had an effect on Ervin's current mentality towards competing, battling, and performing.

In 2002, Koolski, a fellow bboy, recruited Ervin to be a part of the legendary Rock Steady Crew. Through the next few years, Ervin would go on to share the stage with artists such as KRS One, Nas, Linkin Park, and The Black Eyed Peas. He has also worked in music videos such as Arrested Developement's "Honeymoon Day", Tony Touch's "Dimelo/Ay Ay Ay", and Floetry's "Thisizaluvsong." More of his recent work includes Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion's "J.O.B. The Hip-Hopera" which took place in Hollywood's noted Stella Adler Theatre ; and Nabil Elderkin's documentary film "Bouncing Cats" shot in Uganda Africa. Ervin continues to push the knowledge of the dance through lectures and workshops (2005's Crazy's Commandos five-city tour). Not only does he help spread the history of the dance nationally, but has also carried it across seas to the Knotting Hill Festival in London along with other members of RSC.

Ervin's love for music inspired him to collect records and has been djayin since 1998. He has played in some of Los Angeles' most diverse clubs and is resident at LA's infamous "Root Down" club. Besides clubs, his performance has also graced the stages of the Siren Collective's open mic/poetry slams and UCLA's 2003 Reggae and Jazz Festival, while also grounding his roots in bboy competitions throughout the states.

Alas, passion has no bounds. Seemingly and more appropriately, Ervin's passion for the dance and the culture was not meant to be captured simply in the eyes and heart, but also on film. For the past eleven years, this daunting follow has kept a 35mm camera by his side. Because of his careful shutter clicks and keen eye, Ervin's work has been featured in countless websites, magazines (Time Magazine) and album covers.

Rooted in preserving hip hop culture, Ervin has no bounds in regards to talent. He maintains a consistent attitude in researching what makes hip hop so rich in form. The 13 year-old's curiosity turned into a young man's passion. Ervin Arana, through b-boying, DJing, and photography, continues to strive in bringing hip hop back into its well-deserved limelight.