Saturday’s Exhibition Dance Battle the latest stop on Samuel McIntosh’s Unique Dance Journey

Samuel McIntosh. Photo by Ivan Huang.

By Steve Sucato

Dancer, teacher, choreographer, and hip hop ambassador Samuel McIntosh’s unique dance journey to where he is now has been one fueled by passion, interconnections, and a sense of cultural preservation. The 28-year-old who grew up in South Euclid, began that journey indirectly by following in his father’s footsteps taking up wrestling at an early age and continuing through high school. At Charles F. Brush High School McIntosh says in addition to wrestling he also gravitated toward street dance. And although the krumping street dance style was huge at the school, McIntosh’s preference was that of popping. His subsequent formal introduction to the popping style came oddly enough from an Australian neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic who went by the dancer name Full Metal Sash.

“He was in a [dance] crew called G-Style out of Pomona, California,” says McIntosh. “He taught me the foundations of popping. I thought I knew how to pop until he showed me the way. He also sponsored me for some [dance] battles where I got beat a lot.” Win or lose, McIntosh says he was hooked from then on.

In 2014, McIntosh auditioned for popular dance competition television show So You Think You Can Dance making it as far as performing a solo for the show’s judges. He studied Arts Administration at Baldwin Wallace University and is now an adjunct dance instructor there as well as at Kent State University. McIntosh has also studied independently in New York and Los Angeles with street dance notables the Electric Boogaloo’s, Slick Dogg of G-Style, Brian “Footwork” Green and Elite Force Crew.

From 2020’s 10K Summer Street Dance Intensive (SSDI). Photo by Ivan Huang.

McIntosh sees similarities in his past endeavors such as wrestling and studying other forms of dance like modern at Baldwin Wallace and at a summer dance intensive with Inlet Dance Theatre that he feels crossover into street dance.

“This is all super parallel to popping,” says McIntosh. Recognizing this, he says everything clicked for him and he thought the same building of infrastructure he saw with other dance forms like ballet and modern could be applied to street dance.

In 2017 McIntosh ran with that idea incorporating it into 10K Movement, a street dance platform he founded that focuses on preserving, presenting, and cultivating authentic hip hop and street dance culture in greater Cleveland and beyond. The organization offers dance training and education as well as performance opportunities/events and more. While open to the breadth of street dance and hip hop culture, 10K Movement pays special attention to popping, boogaloo, animation, hip hop, rocking, and house dance styles.

Participants in 2019’s Kent State 8 Open Styles Championship. Photo by Envision Photo-Video.

Its latest performance offering showcasing street dance culture is The 10K Challenge [Exhibition Dance Battle]. The free outdoor event takes place this Saturday, May 8 at moCa Cleveland (Museum of Contemporary Art) from 2-3:30pm.

Presented by McIntosh/10K Movement and moCa, The 10K Challenge will bring together eight pre-selected street dancers from Cleveland, Dayton, and Columbus to battle in their own styles for a cash prize. A cash prize will also be awarded to the Cypher King/Queen chosen from a dance off open to the public. Also on hand will be DJ San.Wav and an MC (Master of Ceremonies) bringing further excitement to the festivities.

The event will follow COVID-19 protocols including social distancing and mask wearing. Should the weather be an issue, the event will be moved inside the museum with a limited audience.

Says McIntosh, if you have never been to a dance battle: “It is like a sporting event. Everyone will have their favorite dancer. With the engagement of the crowd, the atmosphere, and the dancers showcasing a variety of styles, I think people will not only enjoy it, but will walk away from it with a better understanding of the culture.”

The 10K Challenge [Exhibition Dance Battle], 2-3:30pm, Saturday, May 8. moCa Cleveland (Museum of Contemporary Art), 11400 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. Free Outdoor Event. More information at 10Kmovement.org.