This is John Wesley Austin, a breakdancer who is far more recognised by his stage name, Poppin John. Although he has been dancing since he was 12, he only really came to the attention of the world when he appeared in the World of Dance competition.
At first, it looked like his journey might be short, as he only made it through the qualifiers round. However, the next round was Duels, and he went up against World of Dance: Thailand. Quite a challenge! John showed why he belonged in the competition and absolutely nailed his performance.
He was blown away to receive high praise from judge Jennifer Lopez who said his performance was sickening. Understandably John admits that hearing this from one of the most famous women in the world was amazing. “She’s a superstar and has done every type of performance you can possibly think of, so her telling me that I’m a seasoned performer was just kind of surreal.”
This kind of ability doesn’t come overnight. John has been dancing since he was 12. He was at a school dance full of boys and girls standing on opposite sides of the room and feeling awkward. No one knew what they were supposed to do. Then, out of nowhere, two breakdancers leapt into the centre of the room and began to dance.
Everyone was impressed, but John’s mind was blown. He went home that very night and taught himself the worm. He practised and practised in a mirror until he perfected the move. The next time there was a dance, the two breakdancers began dancing, but this time John was ready. He joined them in the centre of the floor and did the worm. From that night he was one of the dancers.
Over the years that followed, he formed a breakdance crew, and they began to compete at competitions. It was during this time John began to move away from the athletic and acrobatic breakdancing towards popping, which focuses more on the visual aspect of dance.
After a few years of practice, John’s performances were devoted exclusively to popping. He decided to give street performing a try in his home town of El Paso, Texas. He dressed up as a silver robot and performed for 5 hours a day in a local mall! He took donations and finally made it his main job.
In the years since World of Dance, Poppin John’s popularity has exploded. His YouTube channel has 882,000 subscribers, and some of his videos have more than 14 million views. If you haven’t seen this amazing dancer do his thing, check out this fabulous video. Accompanied by fellow dancer Solto, their ability to move their bodies will leave you speechless.
If you want to see more from Poppin John subscribe to his YouTube channel for more brilliant dance videos.