Preschool boys - some too young to tie their shoes - move to the thumping hip-hop beat.
During their weekly lesson, 11 rambunctious boys fill the dance studio's practice room, their fumbles and miscues adding to their charm.
Their dance teacher, Tina Hirschkorn, channels the motion of the Supa Fly B boys rather than controlling it as they practice at The Dance Factory, her studio on Broadwater Avenue. One bold red wall of the practice room wears a mural portraying hip-hop dancers and graffiti-style lettering.
"OK, you guys, show me the opening move," Hirschkorn directs the 3- to 6-year-olds.
"Show me," she repeats.
"How are you supposed to be?"
The pint-sized break dancers, known as B-boys, assume a pose, arms crossed against their chests and a don't-mess-with-me look. Then they give a few shoulder shrugs to the beat and snap their fingers.
Moments later, they dive to the floor, lying on their sides for a spin, outstretched legs propelling them in a circle.
After a slide and run, their fingers snap out the beat.
Some can actually snap their fingers. The rest fake it.
"Here we go, freestyle," Hirschkorn calls out.
Cameron Brackenridge, 4, strikes an expressive pose, full of bravado, then does a cartwheel, sending his braided cornrows swinging away from his head.
"OK, Vincent, you're next," Hirschkorn says, as Cameron reluctantly leaves the center.
B boying, or breaking, shifts between power moves, which have more in common with gymnastics than ballet, and freeze-frame poses that are struck and held. During the freezes, the dancers' bodies are often contorted and suspended in seemingly painful positions.
"Give me a move," Hirschkorn calls out over the music, as the boys review moves they have learned since last summer.
Jaquwan Brackenridge Jr., a 6-year-old known as Junior, does the "coffee grinder." Crouching down, with one leg extended, he swivels his leg counterclockwise, using his arm as a pivot point.
Then Cortes Hidalgo, 5, puts his head on the floor and throws his legs up into a head spin.
Another boy executes a shoulder freeze. Leaning his shoulder against the floor, he balances an elbow against his rib cage to support himself. He props his legs in the air, bracing them against each other like a pretzel.
"With B dancing, it's your own style. Most love the freestyle portion, where they work on their own moves," Hirschkorn said.
The preschool group danced to the tune "Crank dat Batman" on stage in the holiday season in front of large audiences at the Food and Gift Festival, the Festival of Trees and the Babcock Theater during the downtown Christmas Stroll.
"They are seriously like the stars of the performances," Hirschkorn said. "Who can resist little boys being up on stage dancing like that?"
She started the class for 4- to 6-year-olds last summer.
"It was a tester out-er this summer, to see if they would show interest and to see if I could teach this young," she said.
Hirschkorn was already teaching hip-hop classes for boys, ages 7 to 10, and other dance classes for preschool girls. But she was leery of fielding a dance team made up entirely of preschool boys. The group swelled to 14 or 16 this fall, before dropping back to 11.
"We definitely have all boys, and they're all-boy," she said.
To find age-appropriate hip-hop music, she sometimes relies on mix CDs or old-school hits from movies such as "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo."
"Unfortunately, a lot of the hip-hop artists, they always have to be implying something bad or saying something bad," she said.
Hirschkorn started break dancing in the early 1980s with a group of boys from West High.
"I had the whole Michael Jackson glove, the whole Michael Jackson jacket," she said.
Some of her students' parents also grew up break dancing.
Vince Meza, whose 5-year-old son, Vincent, is one of the Supa Fly B boys, used to break dance with his friends in the '80s. His wife, Ryan Meza, says her husband still enjoys showing his moves to their son and their 7-year-old daughter, Arciela, who also takes hip-hop classes.
"They all try to outdo each other at the house," Ryan said. "Vincent has to show his moves, and it's just an ongoing competition between the three of them."
"Stomp the Yard," a movie about a dance competition, launched Cameron and Junior Brackenridge's hip-hop fever. At home, the boys dance to the hip-hop tunes on "Alvin and the Chipmunks," a movie in which the singing chipmunks team up with a Los Angeles songwriter.
Whenever they perform, the boys alert all their relatives.
Their mother, Veronica Nuno, cried when she first saw them on stage.
Her husband, Jaquwan Brackenridge, picked up on the crowd's enthusiasm.
Noah Crane, 4, listens to Kidz Bop CDs, pop tunes with altered lyrics, said his mother, Andrea Woosun Crane.
He likes to be called "Shorty," after one of Sean Kingston's songs on a Kidz Bop CD. While many unaltered hip-hop lyrics are "radio playable," the content is still not appropriate for children, Crane said.
Noah has always liked to dance, Crane said. She remembers how surprised he and his older brother were when they found out she could still do a hip-hop move known as "the worm." The move involves lying face down, kicking the legs and arching the chest to wriggle like a worm.
At Noah's first performance, he crumpled, curling up on stage. But, by the time the boys did the freestyle portion of their routine, Noah was back up dancing.
Contact Donna Healy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 657-1292.