Breaking barriers through breakdancing.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of breakdancing, a commemoration that hits deep for Edina’s House of Dance owners Jake and Bao (Lee) Riley.
“We are the first to really teach hip-hop and breaking in a way that is directly connected to the roots of the culture as a whole,” Jake Riley says.
The dance studio has built its walls on three pillars: community engagement, youth empowerment and authentic hip-hop instruction.
“House of Dance is a bridge between the general public, who is interested in getting involved but doesn’t really know much yet, and the community that’s already been there,” Riley says. “We bridge that gap.”
Breaking was born in 1973 by DJ Kool Herc, a Jamaican native known as the mastermind behind hip-hop culture. Its community was made up of B-boys and B-girls representing flags from all over the world. Initially concentrated among Black and Puerto Rican youth in the 1970s, breaking has grown to be one of the most diverse communities in the world.
“People around the world are doing it, whether it’s upright hip-hop styles, all styles or breaking,” he says.
House of Dance focuses on teaching authentic hip-hop and street dance to the greater Edina community.
“There are so many places that appropriate it, honestly,” he says. “They’re not teaching the foundation, and they’re definitely not representative of the larger community … nationally and globally.”
House of Dance prides itself in having dance practitioners who have studied the original form of breakdancing. They teach all ages, from toddlers to seniors.
“Our students aren’t another number,” he says. “We really care about the people that come in.”
Being the official dance studio partner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx Basketball, House of Dance breakers are often seen performing during games. “We have some of the best hip-hop dancers here in Minnesota,” he says.
In April, the studio hosted one of three regional Olympic qualifiers for breaking, which will make its first appearance at the Summer Olympics in 2024. “We do a lot, from organizing and teaching [to] empowering,” he says. “It’s an everyday job, but we love what we do.”