New York City is considered the birthplace of hip hop, but it’s not just in regards to the music. Hip hop dances styles are constantly being invented and revamped in the city, specifically in Brooklyn, where a new style called Flexing is currently exploding. Flex is Kings is a great documentary that follows the lives of three of the most prominant figures in this new dance community, Flizzo, Jay Donn, and Reem, and I was honored to be at the World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival last week.
Diedre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols do a fantastic job of bringing us into a world that has mostly been confined to the Brooklyn area, though flexing is a style that is quickly catching on in recent years. Flexing is difficult to define, as it combines several dance styles, including waving, bone breaking, and gliding among others. Jay Donn is one of the members of Ringmasters, a crew that appeared on Season 3 of Americas Best Dance Crew. Though they were one of the first crews eliminated, they got their message out. Flex was out there, and it was ready to gain an audience. Flex Is Kings is another medium for bringing this incredible dance art to the mainstream.
Flizzo is one of the fathers of the dance art, and is considered a legend in the streets of Brooklyn for his innovative moves and tricks. In his journey of the film, we follow Flizzo, as he constantly fights to stay on top of his game, while also juggling a family at home with a new born daughter. Flizzo was most known for being undefeated in battles, and he extended that streak in the film, before ultimately succumbing in the biggest dance battle in the world: King of Streets. His best friend, Jay Donn, is another one of our featured dancers, though his story goes in a very different way. In fact, it takes him all the way to Scotland!
We follow Donn’s incredible journey, as his unique dance style peaks the interest of a local theater director, who is looking for someone like Doan for his new play, a remix to the classic Pinnocio story. Flex is Kings takes us on an amazing journey with Doan, who goes from dancing in the streets of Brooklyn, to one of the biggest theaters in Scotland. The parallels are quite fascinating, as these two friends travel different paths with the same dream in mind: to make flex known world wide.
Reem is the last piece of the puzzle. While he is too a dancer, he spends most of his time as the promoter for the Battle Fest dance series that runs in Brooklyn. If Flizzo and Jay Doan are the talent, thenm Reem is their director. While the dancers do their part in promoting flexing through movement, he does his part by getting people to these battles. Together, the three are some of the most prominent figures in the flexing game, and are the reasons that it has gotten its popularity so far.
Flex is Kings is a very solid documentary. The film makers do an incredible job of weaving the dancer’s personal lives in with staying true to the core of the movie, the dancing itself. Technically, there are a few mishaps, including shots with the mics as well as shots of the other camera person in the background. However, these are easily forgivable, as a. it’s a documentary, and b. dance is unpredictable, and in order to get the best shot, they have to move around at all times.
You don’t have to love dance to love this movie. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s just as much a human tale as it is a tale of dance. Of course, if you love hip hop, dancing, or both, then this movie is right up your alley. Flex is Kings was easily one of my favorite movies I saw at Tribeca Film Festival, and highly recommend it.