Farmers Market break-dancer Kyle 'K'Otic' Johnson trains for American Ninja Warrior 

Controlled Chaos

Ninja-in-training and Breakdancer Kyle 'K'Otic' Johnson does a hand-hop move at Marion Square

Jonathan Boncek

Ninja-in-training and Breakdancer Kyle 'K'Otic' Johnson does a hand-hop move at Marion Square

Kyle "K'Otic" Johnson does weddings ... parks, streets, the runway of Charleston Fashion Week, and parties (even frat ones), really any place with a dancefloor. He was even hired to dance on an episode of MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen that was shot at the Francis Marion Hotel in 2008.

But K'Otic, 28, is most recognizable in Charleston as a break-dancer who performs during the Charleston Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

Unlike Paris or New York City, street performing is a rare treat here. Over by the Marion Square fountain, a steady and huge crowd forms. K'Otic and dancers from two other crews, Dancing on Air (D.O.A.) and Missing Links, put on a show for hours, four hours typically, even in this heat.

Every week, he and up to six other guys just show up, sometimes without having spoken since the last meet-up. They start planning their performances out at 8:30 a.m., run through some music, and then start at 9:30. "On the weekends, I'm not out there to make money," he says. "I'm out there teaching all the other guys, who are all younger — 14 to 19 — values, how to market themselves better, and how to be a better performer."

And his giving nature is why he's a part of the game to begin with.

"I truly started dancing because of my sister. She was handicapped and couldn't do anything for herself. So I literally took on everything that she couldn't do in life that I thought she would do if she could walk and talk," he says. "I thank her for all my talents. Every sport I played I was good at and never gave up. And dancing has definitely taken me to places I never thought I would go or see."

K'Otic's skills aren't just limited to breakdancing. An R.B. Stall High graduate, who works building tents for an event company, has trained in ballet, hip-hop, gymnastics, and capoeira, Brazilian fight dancing. He also makes his own music and even flipped over 10 people at once during a performance. "I like to take a top 40 song and find a trapstep remix to it. Trapstep is the fusion of hip-hop and dubstep music," he says. He's been known to incorporate more playful tunes as well, like Singing in the Rain and the Austin Powers theme song to get the crowd in a good mood.

And though his day job is building tents for events, the end game for K'Otic is to combine both his music and his dance crew on the professional stage.

Until then, he's training to be the first person from Charleston to try out and hopefully make it on American Ninja Warrior.

K'Otic has only been training for a year, but he's already found the perfect place to hone his skills.

"When the tents don't have the tops, they're just a giant frame that looks like an obstacle course, so I'll do stunts on that thing," says K'Otic. "I do rock climbing every once in awhile to keep my stamina up. Breakdancing helps most with my balance and stamina and dealing with different situations."

A handstand aficionado with excellent balance, K'Otic thinks he has a good chance of making it on the show. He's also been making videos of himself flipping over cop cars and doing handstands on horses to really grab the show's attention.

He's got a solid plan: "I figure I'll go to Miami to try out, because if I fail, at least I'll still be in Miami."

GIF pulled from YouTube video by user Ben Sumner


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