Bustin’ moves in the ‘Wild, Wild Wes’

Breakdancing embodies something special for University of Iowa senior Wesley Estrada — freedom.

Also known as “Wild Wes,” Estrada has been heavily involved with gymnastics throughout his life. Different people have reached out to him to try out breakdancing, but he didn’t make his way to the dance floor until a year ago.

One of his gymnastic teammates encouraged Estrada to visit a session with the UI Breakers, and he has continued to visit since. The former president of the club decided to graduate early, meaning the group could possibly disband. To continue the club’s status, Estrada decided to take up the position as the leader.

He said gymnastics helped him give a smooth transition to breakdancing, already having the required upper body strength, control, and flexibility.

“When someone taught me something, they’d be like, ‘What the heck, that took me like two weeks to learn, you just learned it in an hour,’ ” Estrada said.

Breakdancing carries several signature moves, such as head spinning, popping, and locking. He said he finds breakdancing is a way to cut loose with his body.

“Unless you’re in a battle or competition, there are not many rules in breakdancing,” he said. “There are all sorts of directions, and everyone has their own style to it … you just kind of get the music playing and move however you can. You just have all the freedom to dance however you want.” 

One dancer Estrada looks up to is Hong 10, a b-boy from South Korea, because of his innovative style.

“He made a lot of the moves by himself,” Estrada said. “He doesn’t just copy from other people, he has signature moves.”

Outside of UI Breakers, Estrada is also the president of the Pre-Veterinary Club. While he prepares to become a veterinarian, he said, he previously struggled to balance his coursework with dancing.

“I kind of took breakdancing a little too seriously,” he said. “The past two weeks, I kind of needed to back off a little bit and focus more on school, because I had several exams and projects. You just kind of have to judge it and go in when you have the chance to.”

To balance time, Estrada took up the 365 Challenge, in which he would do a mini-breakdancing session every day.

“Even when I’m super busy, I’ll finish an exam and dance for 10 minutes,” he said. “It keeps me going.”

For breakdancing newcomers who may feel intimidated by the style, he encourages them to keep an open mind and imagination.

“Don’t compare yourself to somebody who’s been doing for seven years, because then you’ll get discouraged about it,” he said. “Just take it step-by-step and commit.”

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