ith an eye to creating a national community of breakdancers and urban artists, Sami Elkout is in Whitehorse to organize Cypher for Change.

“It’s like a summer camp for B-Boys,” says Elkout, a member of the Ottawa-based Bread Crumbs Crew. “There are about 50 youth from across Canada coming up here. They are travelling from as far away as Halifax, Quèbec City and Inuvik just to mention a few places. The participants will be staying at the Takhini Retreat Centre.”

Elkout is visiting from Ottawa after spending last winter up here helping organize this forum with Andrea Simpson-Fowler, owner and artistic director of Leaping Feats Creative Danceworks.

“This retreat is geared to the empowerment of youth and to help them make changes in their own communities,” says Elkout. “Dancers ranging in age from 14 to 24 will network with people from across Canada.

“Exchanges Canada has contributed $40,000 to cover travel costs for this event.”

There will be stimulating and inspiring presentations from speakers who have devoted their lives to reaching out to youth through breakdancing and hip hop. These presentations will take place at F.H. Collins Secondary School and are open to the public.

Stephen “Buddha” Leafloor, from Blueprint for Life, is a social worker who promotes a positive attitude in life through hip hop as a means of exploring one’s creative side as an alternate activity in the community. He will be speaking Friday, July 16 at 4 p.m.

Michael “Piecez” Prosserman, founder and executive director of Unity Charity, promotes non-violence through hip hop and will be speaking Saturday, July 17 at 2:30 p.m.

Then there is Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli from Montrèal (you may have seen his performance at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games). He is a motivational speaker.

“No excuses, no limits” is his theme and he speaks about ideals and approaches to helping communities through breakdancing. He will be speaking Sunday, July 18 at 2 p.m.

Besides motivational speakers, the public is also invited to watch the Cypher Styles Challenge sponsored by Yukon Energy/Klondike Heat. This will include individual cypher challenges as well as “3vs3” Battles (a battle is an exchange of movement through challenges; an action/reaction to the movement).

Simpson-Fowler is most excited talking about the judges who are coming up for these events: “We will have B Boy Wicket from San Fransisco who judges all over the world. He is famous for headspins,” she laughs.

“Kid David from San Fransisco/Renegades Crew and EasyRoc/Rock Steady Crew from California will also be judges. DJ Skeme Richards, Rock Steady Crew’s DJ, will be our DJ for the battles.

“It’s pretty awesome. There will also be bursaries and prizes for winners of the battles and challenges. We just really want to get the word out to the community. This is a really big event.”