Ken Swift is one of the greatest influences the dance of Bboying (otherwise known as 


Breaking or Breakdancing) has known. Considered “The Epitome of a Bboy”, Bboys and 


Girls worldwide have emulated his image and style throughout the years. Ken is credited 


with establishing movements critical to the dances’ foundation with his personal style and 


techniques. He is a true pioneer recognized worldwide for his continued contributions 


throughout the last 36 years of promoting, performing, educating and preserving the art 


form. He continues to be a driving force in its current global culture and is continually 


invited to attend, judge and compete in competitions around the world.


Separate from Ken Swift’s successful individual career he has collaborated with and is one 


of the original members of the world renowned Rock Steady Crew (RSC); the first group 


of Bboys to receive professional recognition from the media and their peers. They also 


appeared in television and film including Graffiti Rock (1983), Style Wars (1982), Wild 


Style (1982), Flashdance (1983,) The David Letterman Show (1983), and Beat Street 


(1982). As a recording artist with RSC Ken received gold and silver records for the single 


Hey You, The Rock Steady Crew. (Virgin/Charisma, 1984) The album, “Ready for Battle,” 


which included two dance videos, reached out to a larger Pop audience worldwide, brought 


about tours to Europe and Asia, bringing Breaking to a world audience for the first time.


In 1996 Ken co-authored, co-directed, co-choreographed and performed Off-Broadway’s 


first Hip Hop musical Jam On The Groove. One hundred performances led to a Drama 


Desk Award nomination for Best Choreography in the 1995-1996 seasons. For these 


achievements, Ken and Ghettoriginal Productions Dance Company received a Bessie 


Award for choreography. In 1999, Hip Hop Culture was inducted into the Rock & Roll 


Hall of Fame and Museum for which Ken was asked to produce an installation. His career 


led him to open the Ken Swift School of Hip Hop Fundamentals at Breaklife Studios in 


Brooklyn in 2005. Ken has judged dance championships all over the world in countries 


such as France, Switzerland, Sweden, China, South Africa, Finland, Italy, Holland, 


Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela, Norway, Germany, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Russia, 


Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the throughout the U.S.


Ken started VII Gems as a dance company in 1996, a company dedicated to the 


preservation of New York City traditional dances; Breaking and Rocking. He directed and 


choreographed the first ever Rock Dance theater piece entitled “Rockin It” that toured 8 


cities through out the UK in May of 2009 sponsored by the Breaking Convention, a Sadler 


Wells Project. The company consists of members whom average over 30 years of dance 


experience, authentic pioneer dancers from the early years of these dances. The company is 


involved in numerous dance classes, lectures, demonstrations, performances, panels, film 


screenings, competitions, and workshops throughout the world. 


Due to Ken’s contributions as a pioneer of B Boy Culture, he’s received several Lifetime 


Achievement Awards, one from The Mighty IV, a nationally renowned annual Breaking 


event in North California, and a Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award 


presented to him at Amherst College. In 2007, Ken received an Appreciation Award from 


Seoul Arts College as well as a Hall of Fame Living Legend Award from the Korean 


Tourism Agency, which declared him as an Honorary Ambassador of Korea and positive 


influence on youth cultures worldwide. In 2009, Ken was awarded a Zulu Nation 


Achievement Award at the "Take 1" event in Belgium, as well as an Appreciation Award 


from Encountras las Ruas at the Joinville Dance Festival in Brazil. Kens' travels brought 


him back to the United States in 2010. While judging at "The Ultimate Bboy 


Championship" in Las Vegas Ken was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for 


his preservation and dedication to Bboy culture. Also in 2010, Ken was acknowledged as 


an “American Master” by the National Endowment for the Art’s and received an American 


Masterpieces in Dance Award to reconstruct his choreography with olive Dance Theatre in 


a show entitled “Swift Solos: The Re-Construction of Ken Swift’s 20th Century Breakin’,” 


which toured 5 cities in the United States throughout 2010. In 2011, Ken Swift was voted 


the 2nd Most Influential Dancer of the 20th Century by CNN’s Icon Series, he was the 


only B.Boy to receive this honor amongst mostly ballet dancers. In France in 2012, Afrika 


Bambaataa along with Le CACDU and Zulu Nation France, honored Ken with an 


Ambassador of Hip Hop Culture award on the 30th Anniversary of Hip Hop Culture. 


Ken directed and wrote curriculum for BEAT BREAKERS, a non-profit organization that 


teaches Breaking dance Fundamentals in after school programs at multiple schools in The 


Bronx, NY. In June 2013, as part of Sadler Wells' "Breaking Convention Festival" at NY's 


Apollo Theater, Ken was honored for his contributions to the dance of Breaking which 


included an exclusive short dance piece entitled "Chill Town New York". Ken is currently 


a Scholar is Residence at New York University's Hip Hop Education Center and is 


completing his first book entitled, "The Art of Breaking"



Photo by Martha Cooper