Vitamin

  • Name: Isaac Alexander Jno Baptiste
  • AKA: Vitamin
  • Birth place: Forest Gate, London, UK
  • Star sign: Virgo
  • Languages: English, Japanese
  • Hobbies: Dance, teaching dance,
    badminton, studying Japanese,
    video games

How it started

Coming from a Caribbean family, Isaac aka Vitamin was no stranger to music. His mum is Dominican and his father who was a musician was from Granada. He played the guitar a lot and loved to sing and dance and Vitamin loved watching his mum dance to her favourite records.

Vitamin first became interested in dance back in primary school. He was inspired by his best friend, the late Daniel Joseph, who at the age of 10 performed a solo on stage at a school show wearing a foil suit and face paint and did the ‘robot’. Then came the movies like ‘Breakin’’ and ‘Beat Street’.

As kids around them became caught up in the craze of poppin’ and breakin’, Vitamin and Daniel became dancing partners regularly working on dance routines. Carrying a ghetto blaster they would go from place to place with a group of local kids challenging others to dance battles. Even though Daniel was only a few months older he was very much of a big brother figure to Vitamin and a constant source of inspiration to him, always leading him in the right direction.

Next came the stage of ‘New Jack Swing’ which was not only a dance style but a life style change for Vitamin. It meant new dress code, hair style and a lot of clubbing.

Then Vitamin took a break from dancing and focused on his other passion which was video games. He decided to become a representative of a major Japanese video game producer (Capcom, Namco [now Namco Bandai] and SNK [now SNK Playmore]) and channelled all his efforts towards that (including learning Japanese). He was getting older and more career-focused and as a result the dancing which he was so passionate about, took a back seat for a few years. That also meant that the usual circle of his dancing friends gradually grew apart.

He could not stay away for too long though so when he learnt that there was a breakin’ class not far from his home, he raced down there to take part, thrilled that this kind of dance was still alive and well. That’s where he met Perves (the old skool-style breakin’ teacher) and some of the students he met there were later to become first members of The Imperial Steps.

Doing a group performance at his first ever breakin’ show (MV2) in the Camden Centre was a real eye opener and a reminder of how much he used to love dancing and the whole culture. When he created The Imperial Steps (originally 6 members) he made a commitment to himself and to the crew that no matter what, dance would always be his life. That was 2001.

It was Perves’ old-skool style that encouraged Vitamin to take his dancing to a professional level. After numerous performances and battles, he decided to start teaching at various schools and groups, which led him to having his own breakin’ class at Danceworks in London.

It was at Danceworks where – surprised at the enthusiasm that some of his students showed for breakin’ – in 2005 he formed a new breakin’ crew made up of purely dedicated students called Plan Zer0. In September 2011 he added a junior dance group for enthusiastic and talented youngsters called Plan Zer0 Juniors.

These days, Isaac is a very popular and busy dance teacher. His classes include a street dance class for younger kids at YMCA (since September 2011) and classes at Paddington Arts where he teaches and choreographs annual kids’ shows (since March 2011). He is also a Step Into Dance teacher for RAD (Royal Academy of Dance).

Working with the younger generation is really exciting for me. It keeps me focused and on my toes. It puts my organising skills into practice and is always a challenge. Being able to teach them and then eventually watch them deliver, whether it’s through freestyle or in a group at a show is very rewarding. It’s also wonderful to see when they are able to improvise and get creative with what they have learnt for this is what this dance has always been about.

My love for dance has always equalled the love I have for motivating others to dance too. I enjoy being able to get through to people of all ages and various backgrounds and bring out the dance in them that they never believed they had. To make them feel more confident about themselves. That’s how the name ‘VITAMIN’ came about. – Vitamin

Despite some health issues (he’s asthmatic and has been suffering from lower back and hip issues for years) Vitamin successfully follows his passion for dance.

His portfolio also includes some TV work. He danced alongside the footballer John Barnes in the MARS 2010 World Cup TV commercial. He was a dance teacher and choreographer in a short Channel 4 documentary How To Dump Your Mates, as well as a dancing court officer in the famous Plan B music video, ‘She Said’. Finally, last year, he got a call to be one of the choreographers for Strictly Come Dancing where he helped Mark Benton and his dance partner Yveta Lukosiute with their comedy street dance routine.

However, if you ask him about his standout performance so far, he undoubtedly will say it was dancing as one of the professionals in London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

Being selected to be a professional dancer at the opening ceremony was such a great honour and the biggest turning point of my dancing career. No words can describe it. It made me feel that all the hard work and struggles faced in my dancing life had been worth it, and no amount of money could be more rewarding than that opportunity of a life time. I will forever have the memories of the travelling to the studios and stadium every day, the warm ups, lectures, and meeting all those wonderful people during the time leading up to the big day. – Vitamin

On 12.12.12, Vitamin officially changed the name of The Imperial Steps: Break Dancers to The Imperial Steps: Dance Group with the view to embrace and unify different type of dance styles within the crew.

For me, style and finesse was what I was looking for in dance. It was a style that made breakin’ look like a proper dance. Dancing and hitting that beat every time with attitude. Not bad attitude, but the kind of attitude that adds character and shows when one dances from the heart, it means they love it. – Vitamin

Future

With two breakin’ crews and a class, Vitamin hopes to take it further than ever by creating new opportunities to encourage more people to take up dancing and to further develop the two breakin’ crews he has founded.

Images

Videos

Time 2 Throwdown – July 2009

Plan B: She Said

Isaac Baptiste a.k.a B-Boy Vitamin makes an appearance in PLAN B’s hit single: SHE SAID.

This time, he takes a break from the breakin’ infavour of a Soul Dancing Court Officer.

Will Plan B get the guilty verdict? It certainly seems that way!

😀

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