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WhatIsWhat 1.0 2003

slip tips

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ABOVE: My go at the Juste Debout Prelims in "Experiemental" category. For Experimental they will play randomn music to challenge the interpretation instead of house, funk or breaks.

- a slipping crutch tip can undermine your every move-

ABOVE: a worn crutch tip. sourced from an automotive supply store its a greenline brand high pressure coolant hose

Let it be known that the dancer who must use crutches to express the physical heights of their dance lives and dies by the tip of their crutch. This being most evident to me of late as I have, on my most recent event in Europe, been completely ruined by faulty tip strategy. I did what I could to accommodate the surface the organizer of the event had in place. In spite of my adjustments, my tips remained completely inadequate to the challenge at hand.   The event in Europe I attended was the legendary Juste Debout dance competition in FRANCE.  Check out a trailer for the event after the jump. It features some of the best street dancers of Europe and the world.  It was 2009 where I was a contestant in the Experimental category. When I danced in the preliminary event prior to the main event it was to a great roar of applause. I was dancing on a raised sectional wood stage and my tips did not slide. I was completely open in my dancing and I moved into the finalists round for the experiemental category.

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When I arrived to the main event there was no warm up provided on the surface the dancing was to take place on. Looking at the surface it appeared to be a raised sectional floor painted with a graphic and covered with a coating of plastic or wax. Upon seeing this I had to find and ask the main organizer “Bruce” if I could test out the floor just a bit. I explained to him my situation with the tips and he kindly provided me a minute on the floor . To my great horror the floor was so slippery I could get no more than a 10 degree angle off of 90 degrees with the crutch before my tips started to slide out. I also discovered that not only was the floor very slippery but it also had a very slight shifting between the panels. This shifting caused the panels to have slightly different hieghts of edges between them.I would estimate that this difference was maybe 5 - 10 micrometers. The tip of the crutch would catch these edges but still slip on the flats.  In spite of this I still went on with my entry onto the competition. I caught a Bjork track and danced what must have looked like a scared rabbit dance as I had to reign in all of my centrifugal force, keep my crutch angles under 10 degrees off center and avoid spinning into the cracks. Ultimately I still pushed it too much and my crutch caught an angle and slipped out of my armpit and dropped dead to the floor. I am a pro at covering up my mishaps but the dropping of the crutch is one error that is undeniable. Time stood still for me as I fell on the ground then picked up both my crutches. It was a very weak coverup and between that bad choice and my scared rabbit dance I was doomed. The audience was dead silent. I felt as if I had done myself more harm than good coming to Paris. I cannot blame the floor I can only design a better tip. This floor would require an extremely sticky tip. Some type of urethane that is akin to a rollerskate wheel for roller rinks. The dancers who were on the same stage were ok and did not seem to fall a lot but then its not accurate really to compare the curved bottom crutch slip factor with that of a human foot. If I had nerves in the end of my crutch tip i would have felt the slip and held on for the prize!! oh well.. im returning next year with some experimental sticky tips. I have another few horror stories of crutch tippage that I will share. One from Breakin' Convention UK 2007 which was a great embarassment and one from chicago way back in 97.

ABOVE: The dreaded tube collapse of the crutch tip. once this happens replace it. If you cannot, in order to retain the curvature cut a piece of hardwood, duct tape it in place then slide the tip over it all and hope it doesnt fail you in traffic.

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This Work, slip tips, by Bill Shannon is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA license.