We had the good fortune of connecting with Ian Flaws and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ian, what do you attribute your success to?
Tennacity. I am perhaps almost stubborn when it comes to my business. There have been many times, especially early on, and more recently during COVID that I have thought about shutting it down. But something internal drives me to push through the tough times. Each time I struggle through difficult periods the business has come out stronger on the other side. The tenacity to push forward helps me adapt and get more creative in my efforts to keep our facility thriving.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a dance teacher first and foremost. I am also an artist and curator of cultural events. I facilitate these many hats by running a dance studio, The Bboy Factory. The studio is an education center that seeks to preserve traditions of Hip Hop culture and primarily Breakin or Breakdance. Over the past decade we have produced multiple champion winning students. A large part of our success has been due to our collaborations and partnerships with global icons in our industry. While we offer great weekly programs for our students, we also provide consistent workshops and guest residencies with the best dancers from around the country and globe. This has given us a reputation of being a world class center for training Breakin and Hip Hop.

To get here has not been easy. I don’t think any small business is easy. As an individual I was not famous as a dancer. I had travelled the world for several years as a English teacher and had made many connections in the Breakin world. I knew that I was a great teacher and had the resources to open a facility. I thought of the studio as a field of dreams. Once built, I knew it would attract the right people. It quickly became a bridge between our small local dance community and the global Breakin community. That bridge would become a two way street to attract world class talent to Colorado as well as provide opportunities for our students in the dance world beyond Colorado

The challenges that have continued from 10 years ago until today are in trying to push and elevate a small “recreational” dance community to a higher level in a very competitive industry. Colorado is traditionally isolated from the large dance meccas and top talent usually leaves the state to find industry work in cities like LA or New York. Rather than overcome, I have accepted this challenge and try to maintain a young generation of students that will be able to excel if and when they do spread their wings and leave our local scene. I’ve learned that change is constant and I can not hold on to yesterday’s successes. I am always looking to build more young students.

I have also worked tirelessly to create a truly vibrant cultural center. I believe that the art and culture that has been curated in our studio makes it a truly unique and vibrant experience for our students and patrons. People come from around the world to our studio and always remark on the vibrancy of the space. I extend that beyond our facility to several events and performances throughout the year. I believe that the Bboy Factory is synonymous with Hip Hop high art expression. Whether it be theater or photography, I work hard to exist as an artist beyond the competitive dance scene.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In 2019, I became a father, and I must admit I do not have the pulse for culture in the city the way I did even five years ago. That being said, I would definitely include a walking tour of 5 Points/RINO to see the graffiti and street art. Probably stop in the Denver Market for some coffee and a snack. I would take them to Tennyson to Native Roots. Definitely Big Mama’s Burritos for breakfast and the Butcher Block on another morning after going out the night before. I would take them out dancing at Ophelia’s for the Hype 90s Party and the Roxy for Love Language. I would take them to some speak easies and lesser known bars like Fort Greene and the Cruise Room. I also like to take people to visit my friend, the artist Detour, at his studio. I like to take people for food to Avanti for the view of the city from their patio. I also like to take people to Boulder for a walk on Pearl Street or a hike under the Flat Irons. Finally, I would take them up to the mountains to Buena Vista for a soak in Mt Princeton or Cottonwood Hot Springs and the beautiful Colorado mountain scenery.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people that have inspired me and pushed me along the way. In my industry (breakdancing) I was not widely known before I opened my studio. I was confident in my abilities, but had very little credibility established beyond my local community. Early after opening my studio a world famous icon of our dance, Ivan the Urban Action Figure, reached out and wanted to collaborate. He wanted to come to Colorado for several weeks to teach. Ivan is widely considered one of the all time greats of our dance, so of course I was excited to work with him. The following weeks turned into months and months into years. He in fact settled down in Colorado and opened his own studio in Colorado Springs years later. Ivan became a mentor to me and one of my closest friends. Not only did his endorsement give global credibility to my studio, but he also spoke highly of me as a community leader. Having him believe in me gave me great confidence and helped me to grow my brand beyond our small local community and become a name recognized globally in our dance. There are many other iconic dancers who have also played a large role in collaborating with the Bboy Factory, such as AsiaOne, Rennie Harris, Mr Wiggles, and Bboy Born. Having these titans lend their clout to a relatively unknown dancer such as myself really pushed me to be the best I could be and helped me create brand recognition beyond my local circle. I am forever grateful to all of them, but Ivan especially showed so much love and respect. Having one of the greats treat me like an equal and look to partner with me again and again over the years has truly meant the world to me.

Website: www.bboyfactory.com

Instagram: @bboyfactory

Twitter: @bboyfactory

Facebook: @TheBboyFactory

Other: info@bboyfactory.com

Image Credits
Matt McDonald

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