Intense break-dance battles, powerful performances, live painting showcases and wild parties—CypherFest consistently delivers it all.

Every year, during one hot week in July, dance crews from Whitehorse and some from outside, as well as local visual artists and musicians, put together one of the most fun and artistically diverse events of the summer. Fans of breakdance, hip hop and street-style art flock in the masses to the Old Fire Hall, the Wharf by the Yukon River and the Yukon Arts Centre, to see the CypherFest events that take place over the course of four days. This year’s edition promises all this and even more.

In anticipation of the event, two young dancers are tirelessly rehearsing, getting their moves ready to compete against their own peers and other break-dancers coming from Montreal to participate in CypherFest. Benji Robertson and Cormac Hopkins are both members of the break-dance crew known as Krush Groove and have both taken part in CypherFest several times before.

“[CypherFest] is a chance to get to learn new dances and expand your knowledge of dance,” said Robertson, who has been dancing for an impressive 12 years.

“I think it’s especially good to interact with everyone,” adds Hopkins, who himself has been dancing for around four years. “It’s pretty much a learning experience for everyone.”

In the past, local break-dancers have held their own in battles against dancers from various other cities, but have also been able to pick up and show off new moves and techniques, and even join in on workshops with professional teachers.

CypherFest is like no other dance show that happens in Whitehorse, with its completely different vibe and casual atmosphere. It also presents an opportunity for dancers who specialize in the break-dance style to do exclusively what they enjoy most.

Though both Hopkins and Robertson are eager to work with a variety of dancers and teachers, they have expressed a particular appreciation for the efforts of their hometown teachers, from the Groundwork Sessions (GWS) crew, for helping to unlock their potential. While the two high school break-dancers are very accomplished in their own rights, they are adamant that they are always continuing to learn, from peers and teachers alike, and those people are also learning from them.

CypherFest 2018 starts with a kickoff event on Thursday, July 12, at the Old Fire Hall. It is a free event and starts at 6 p.m. The following day, on Friday, July 13, there will be an event featuring two vs. two, bboy and bgirl, all-styles battles. This event is at 5 p.m. and is also free.

The Saturday of CypherFest, July 14, will begin with the finals from Friday’s battles, at noon on the Wharf. At 7 p.m., there will be a performance at the Yukon Arts Centre, featuring homegrown dancers, as well as Borealis Soul, Ebnflōh, and Moon Runners. Tickets are good for admission to all events.

The final day of CypherFest, Sunday, July 15, is the day of CypherFest’s main event at the Yukon Arts Centre. This event also features performances by Borealis Soul, Ebnflōh and Moon Runners. Every event is for all ages, and tickets are available at yukontickets.com, at the Yukon Arts Centre or through the students of Leaping Feats Creative Danceworks.