Red Bull just released a video on their YouTube channel titled “Artist to Athlete”, depicting the Red Bull BC One All-Stars being “trained like athletes”. The all-stars are some of the best bboys in the entire world – if you don’t already consider them athletes, then I’m not sure I agree with your definition. Anyway, here’s the video – it’s pretty cool and below are some of my thoughts (and criticisms of course!):
Anything that helps bboys become more aware of how their body works, how to eat properly and generally take care of themselves is a good thing! It looks like they spent quite a bit of time educating the dancers on exercise physiology, nutrition, and even research methods. That’s pretty cool, and (hopefully) a step in the right direction for Red Bull taking care of their sponsored athletes.
However, when you start to do science, you’re obliged to be open to criticism. So, if I may…
It doesn’t look like they were doing real research. Maybe they did, and this was just edited to make a cool youtube video. Perhaps I’m wrong, and it may be unfair to critique a short video without knowing all the facts - but still, what they did show was a bit questionable, and I believe it’s important to critique these things so young dancers get a better perspective. Here’s my critique:
What is that exercise for? Do bboys need hip abduction strengthening? I doubt it – they’re probably incredibly strong that way. Also, the last time I checked, bboys do most of their dancing not on stability balls.
This looks to be trendy “functional” or “stability” exercise nonsense – misapplication of the specificity principle of training. There’s nothing “specific” about balancing on a stability ball with a band around your ankle – this is probably just going to throw them off.
What’s up with the trampoline? Their conclusion: even though bboys are amazingly acrobatic on the floor, it doesn’t mean they are good on a trampoline – but because they’re athletic, they learn quickly. Why is that a surprise? Of course that’s going to happen! And if you had them to learn a martial art, or another dance, or anything they’ve never done before, the same thing would probably happen – they’d suck, and then they learn fast. So? Will this help them in their dancing?
Unfortunately, these guys probably left with a great feeling of learning, and might even think it helped them somehow. However, skills don’t transfer that way, and it might have even made them worse! The situation is completely different from what they really do as dancers. Again, read about the specificity principle for more detail.
Okay, I’ll try to stop being so critical from here on…
Now we’re talking. Motion capture. This is something I’ve always wanted to do with the dance. Personally, I really want to know what the forces are like on the neck and wrists. I’m also interested to see how things change with expertise (are the forces on my neck higher than than these guys because I’m less skilled?). These are interesting questions.
Simply capturing movement is interesting, but it would be great to have them perform on a force plate as well (which measures ground reaction force). I’m wondering what they might have found. Again, I’m not sure if they were actually studying these guys, or just getting cool video shots.
Sorry, but I have to be critical again. Learning to calm your brain activity with feedback while sitting in a big comfortable chair is quite different from a competition situation. Maybe calming down isn’t even good; perhaps you need to be hyped up to do well. Maybe if someone was very nervous in a competition they’d need some help – but these are world champions / professional competitors. If anything, we should be asking them how they keep their cool.
Overall, it’s really cool to see bboys being studied this way. I’m excited to see if anything actually comes out of this (any research articles being published). And I’m glad Red Bull is spending some money on research.
However, I will say that the research needs to be legit. At this point, the video indicates that this is mostly for show. When it comes to science, this is a big problem – it just spreads misinformation, which is hard to correct, and potentially dangerous. That’s why criticism is so important in science.
What do you guys think? What are the pros and cons of this video? Of this project?
I’d love to hear some thoughts!