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Marine breaks it down in Okinawa

Date Posted: 2005-10-13

CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan— When Kyle Ellington joined the Marine Corps the last thing he expected to do in his off-time was teach teens how to break dance, especially in Japan.

However, for more than seven weeks the 20-year-old Bethlehem, PA native he has been doing just that, and he’s made some close friends on the way.

“It’s crazy when I think back,” said Ellington, a combat lithographer with Headquarters and Service Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. “I just love break dancing. I never could have guessed I would be doing this in Okinawa.”

When he was younger, Ellington used to watch videos of break dance competitions and was impressed with the acrobatics of it.

After being on Okinawa for three months, the opportunity to teach teenagers presented itself when Ellington’s unit was visited the community relations officer for Camp Courtney, Ichiro Umehara.

“I met Ichi when he was showing some Okinawan high school students the base,” Ellington said. “He told me he knew of a few teens who wanted to learn how to break dance. Once I told him that I break dance he asked if I could come and teach them. I was really excited.”

The teens are members of the Ageta Youth Center. The center has limited space so they arranged to hold their practices at the Ironworks gym. The gym had plenty of room to dance, according to Yasuko Kishimoto, the director of the Ageta Youth Center.

“I am very happy that Ellington donates his time,” Kishimoto said. “He is a very good teacher and the teens are so happy they finally have someone to teach them.”

For most of the teens, going to the gym was their first time on a military base and few were apprehensive, according to Kishimoto.

“Sometimes they were scared, but when they see Ellington they were happy,” she said.

Break dancing isn’t the only thing that the teens are learning from Ellington. The srudents have been pushing themselves to learn English so they can better communicate with their mentor.

Ellington said even though there is a language barrier they spend much of their time joking around and laughing.

“They are really cool,” said Ellington. “We all get along because we have the same thing in common. They show me so much respect.”

Ellington said he wants to share break dancing with as many people as possible.

“I do it for the happiness of knowing that someone else wants to learn something that I taught,” said Ellington. “Passing it on keeps it alive. Hopefully they will pass it on to others.”

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