The breakdancer with a helping hand

Alex Makkinejad hopes to expand the Breakdancing Club beyond USF and open a nonprofit
breakdancing organization for impoverished communities in Downtown Tampa.

Breakdancing Club President Alex Makkinejad said he finds joy in teaching students on campus how to dance.

However, he hopes to take his knowledge off campus to provide underprivileged youth the value of hard work and handstands.

His vision is to eventually bring free breakdancing lessons to impoverished communities in Downtown Tampa through a nonprofit breakdancing organization.

As a medical student, Makkinejad said he believes breakdancing can not only bring joy and fun to kids, but also exercise.

“I am always thinking about public health and whatnot, which is a portion of the goal of this club,” said Makkinejad. “The main motivator of the club has been a passion to spread hip hop culture through dance.”

He said he is concerned that children from low-income families lack access to gyms and fitness resources because they either can’t pay for the memberships or can’t afford the transportation to get to these places.

“Not all kids have access to parks or playgrounds to run around and exert themselves, but everyone can find a small square of space to dance in,” said Makkinejad.

Even though he sees himself helping these kids in the future, Makkinejad’s focus right now is on the Breakdancing Club on campus.

The club does not yet have its own designated room, so the group of about 11 students sport gym clothes and carry speakers to their designated spot in a hallway at The Well. They meet every Wednesday and Friday evening from 6 to 8 p.m.

They perform moves like head spins and practice their footwork at their own pace. Many of the dancers wear beanies or jackets with hoods to cushion their heads while executing these moves, although they claim that the floor doesn’t bother them.

Makkinejad said everyone helps each other out in the dancing sessions, but for the most part, each dancer does their own thing, as everyone stands at a different stage of learning. 

He pointed out that the club is low pressure and easygoing so students do not need to worry about punctuality, deadlines or expectations.

“So far it’s proven to be a great way for students to socialize and learn to dance, since literally anyone can just pop in whenever they can and pick up where they left off with learning to dance, and just hang out,” he said.

The same way the Breakdancing Club has affected students on campus, Makkinejad emphasized that he wants to do the same for youth in the community.

The nonprofit idea is “still very much in its infancy,” but Makkinejad said he hopes to get the ball rolling in the near future. He said he would like to eventually partner with other organizations in the Tampa Bay area.

“It’s just something that’s a ton of fun, a social activity and gives [kids] a chance to be artistic and express themselves,” he said.