Full Name: Fuad Talybov, aka Tommy Gunz
Age: 34 going on 35
Where were you born? 9/18/1982 Baku, Azerbaijan
Year Started Dancing: 2001
Influence to start dancing?
My influence came from many breakers in Colorado, but it started with someone whose name I don’t know. It was my 3rd year living in the United States. I was as fresh to the American culture as a bean sprout. I first saw a Hip Hop dance performance being a senior in high school. About a year after graduation, I went to the Church nightclub and saw another breaker doing flares and windmills surrounded by a huge crowd of cheering people. That night I also happened to see a friend in the club whom I’ve met when I first came to the United States. We both were intrigued by this crazy awesome thing that the breaker was doing and decided to learn. There wasn’t anyone that we knew in Denver in 2001 who offered classes, but neither of us could afford them anyways, so we decided to try learning breaking on our own. I guess it was a combination of seeing a performance, witnessing breaker a few feet away, and having a friend who was also interested that did it for me. However, the reason I’ve continued to dance this long thanks to numerous young and adult breakers that kept me inspired and motivated to keep going.
Main style of dance?
Not sure if I have one. When I started breaking, I was also learning how to dance other styles (although back then I wouldn’t call it any style). It was mostly watching others and trying to mimic what they were doing. That included pop artists like Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Usher, and well as some very talented local club dancers who mostly did House and Popping. While I continued to spend more time practicing breaking over the years (because breaking is easy!), I also spent a lot of time listening and dancing to electronica music which has made me very comfy with House. Recently, I’ve been also practicing foundational Popping to give self even better body control.
What are your dance dreams?
I never had a dream to be someone’s back-up dancer, or win a national competition, although I have been blessed to dance on the same stage with a few well know stars like Vanilla Ice, Rob Base, Jurassic 5, and others, and have won a couple of local competitions. All of my dance dreams have ultimately boiled down to one – the ability to deconstruct virtually any musical track and re-express it through dance.
What goals have you accomplished in dance?
- I have made a ton of friends
- Learned many new moves, styles, and began to appreciate even more genres of music.
- I have co-founded and currently operating School of Breaking.
- I have helped organize and run a King of Hearts breaking competition for 8 years in a row.
- I have co-founded Generation BBoy – a bboy gear retail brand.
What goals do you have in dance?
Some of my current goals include continuous personal development as a dancer, growing School of Breaking to new heights, and making dance an important part of raising my kids.
What obstacles have you overcome?
There were a few obstacles that I had to overcome to be where I am at today.
- Non-supportive family/father who didn’t see the future in bboying
- Being a complete nub to all things Hip Hop and all things America.
- Not knowing squat about proper nutrition and health
- Weak discipline when it came to working out
- Poor communication skills
- Poor self-awareness – too many negative thoughts
- Having naive understanding of the term sacrifice
My current challenges:
- Staying on top of my own game – physically and mentally. I am thankful for those around who have influenced me to take a closer look at my own disciplines, strengths and weaknesses, and who have served as a primary example of how I would want to approach self.
- Time management is another challenge. Between being a husband, a father, a studio owner, an athlete, an artist, and a web tech consultant, I have little time left for much else. However, I am getting better at saying no, and starting to get a good grip on my time.
- Not caring about what others think.
What has been your most difficult obstacle you’ve had to overcome in dance?
My most difficult obstacle was to become a firm believer in the possibility of things and the vastness of my own powers as an individual. As a result I turned my career from an engineer to a full-time athlete, dancer and an entrepreneur.
- Is there anything you are currently struggling with in dance or in life?
I don’t think that I am currently struggling in life, but I do remember when that wasn’t the case. I remember when I left my broken home with less than $1200 to my name, when I unsuccessfully tried to make my divorcing parents find joy in each other again, when I smoked weed just so I can forget how bad the days were, when everything I imagined America could be has quickly evaporated and was replaced by hatred, cynicism and depression. As I’ve rediscovered a solid ground from which I was able to see all things beautiful, I started channelling my energy in trying to help others to overcome their struggles. I think both Life and Dance are examples of beautiful struggles. I think right now, the biggest difficulty is getting older. As my body ages I am having harder time learning new dynamic moves and keeping up with the younger generations, but truly I believe, it’s simply a matter of dedication before I attain new moves, so I don’t see it as a struggle per se.
What has dance given to enrich your life?
Dance has turned my life around. It has lifted me from the low. It allowed me to quiet down all of the talking going through my head and forced me to channel my mind towards only two things – music and how my body wanted to react to it. As I embraced dance further, it has brought incredible individuals into my life – health nuts, gym rats, entrepreneurs, teachers, and exposed me to the world of hard work, sacrifice and giving. It taught me how to communicate; it has taught me true meaning of respect, not the kind that’s based on fear; the kind that’s based on understanding and admiration. Dance has shown me that individuality is difficult and easy at the same time. It allows for my spontaneity and creativity roam freely. It also gave me a supportive circle of friends, something that I desperately needed while I attempted to piece my life back together. Dance has shown me that true happiness and freedom do exist.
How do you perceive yourself as a dancer?
I perceive myself as a “beat junkie”. I love exploring musical structures – the hits, patterns, accents, and even quiet moments. Although I do like challenges, I certainly don’t perceive myself as a dare-devil, or spotlight seeker, or a trickster. I enjoy dance for the mere feeling of moving along with music. I try to show others what I’m hearing.
What do you appreciate about your dance?
- I appreciate that it rejuvenates me and charges me with all sorts of positivity.
- I appreciate that it never lets me stagnate and pushes me onto the next goal.
- I appreciate that uniqueness, individual style, and hard work are respected and admired around the world.
- I appreciate that it has can be use it as a healing mechanism.
- I appreciate it for I use it as a way to express myself and my creativity.
- I appreciate that I can teach it to others.
- I appreciate it for the fact that I can travel the world and meet other dancers and enjoy our time together dancing.
What has School of Breaking done to benefit your growth as a dancer?
School of Breaking is my sanctuary. It’s a laboratory where I fail and succeed. It’s a place that allows me to live life the way I imagine it. School of Breaking has allowed me to view the world differently than I have before, noticing its beauty through the faces of our students. It has allowed me to face fears of uncertainty, poverty, of broken promises, adultery, ego and the desire to be perfect. Building the school over the years and dealing with all sorts of challenges has forged my character, integrity and desire not to give up.
What are the next challenges you want to take on as a dancer?
My short-term goals include obtaining continuous flares and longer headspin drills. I have also been working on diversifying my top-rock and footwork techniques. I would like to get back into the competitive arena someday and share with others my abilities and my creativity.
#everyonehasastory #schoolofbreaking #aurora #colorado #hiphop #bboys #bgirls #bboytommygunz #beatjunkie #style #character #represent #neverquit