Michael Roach – His Roach1 Style

When looking to capture powerful and dynamic movement, Michael’s breakdancing skills are a photographer’s dream. His years of dedicated study and practice have taken him to international dance scenes and have enabled him to define a signature style – Roach1. Check out his story below.


Say hello to Michael:

Photo Credit: Daniel Kim

Where are you from?  Where have you been?

Funny story actually – I was adopted from South Korea (a town called Yesan-gun) as a small infant; I grew up most of my life in Indiana in the United States, then moved back to South Korea to reconnect with my cultural heritage (and dance) for three years from 2013 to 2016. I have traveled all around Korea from Seoul to Busan, and also a number of cities in Japan including Tokyo, Osaka, and Hiroshima.


What’s your favorite place in the world?

Tough question. Honestly, I have been to so many great places, especially in East Asia, that it is difficult to choose. I would have to say all of South Korea though, as there are a multitude of beautiful things you can see and experience; from the big cityscape of the capital city, Seoul, to the majestic, natural mountains of Seoraksan Mountain, to even the calm and sandy beaches of Busan. I absolutely love my birth country and all that it has to offer.

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How did you get started in dancing?

Just like almost every dancer, regardless of their genre, I started watching Michael Jackson and practicing moves in my basement in secret (I was awful). My breaking career actually started through being ambushed by the local scene from Purdue University, and I didn’t start taking my B-boy life seriously until my junior and senior years at Indiana University in Bloomington. It was there I began traveling around the country, battling, and training basically everyday with guys that were way more experienced than me in the Midwest scene, but gave me a chance and believed in my vision.


Was there a particular dancer who inspired you to pursue this path in the arts?

In the beginning of taking breaking seriously, not really – I felt called to be a B-boy by God as strange as that sounds. In my later, more recent years though, a few retired B-boys have really inspired me and encouraged me as friends and brothers – Dyzee and Danny. Both of these dancers have always been in my corner and pushed me both spiritually and physically. Dyzee, in particular, was and still is a huge cornerstone to my development in the art of breaking. Without him, I wouldn’t be at the level I am at today, and I wouldn’t understand the elements it takes to continue to improve at a high level.


What does your practice routine look like? Do you practice on a daily basis?

My practice routine is usually for two to three hours on a given day. I try to practice everyday, but sometimes my body just needs rest or life comes first. Usually it’s five minutes of dynamic stretching and warm-up, 30 minutes of straight conditioning, and the rest of the time is allocated to developing movement and flow.


How would you define your style of breaking?

My style of breaking…I would define it as “Roach1 style,” because the whole point of my vision with it has always been to be different. I want my style of movement to be so original that people can’t “bite” or copy it if they tried. Maybe they might be able to do a particular move, but they could never emulate my feel or flow. Summed up, it’s a lot of intricate “tappy” movements with hands, and a lot of creative footwork and freezes.

Photo Credit: Daniel Kim

Have you ever incurred any serious injuries from dancing?

The only serious one I had was tearing my hamstring, which sidelined me for 6 months. Even then, it wasn’t because I was doing anything crazy difficult. I was just doing basics! Other than that, not really. Just minor nicks and bruises and the occasional small pull.


You’ve traveled internationally for your dancing – were there any nuances in the dance culture from the countries you’ve been to?

Oh, for sure! I find it awe-inspiring that when you see dancers from other countries or regions, you come to find that every region has their own distinct way of going about the dance. For example, in Korea there is very much a “Korean way” to approach the dance and the flow of how you move – they focus a lot of their time and energy on perfecting the technical elements of moves, and it shows because when they break, they are more often than not throwing out ridiculously perfected sets. Japan on the other hand, values the dancing aspect of breaking. You still see the crazy power moves that Korea has, but there is more emphasis on character and originality – you see some really creative concepts that are hard to find anywhere else.


What factors do you have to take into consideration when you’re collaborating with a photographer?

When I collaborate with a photographer, I look for someone who is first off, friendly and personable. I like to have fun when I do shoots. And second, if they understand dancers, or athletes in general – if they have a good feel for dynamic movement, then they will most likely understand what looks good and what doesn’t.

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Photo Credit: Daniel Kim

What is the best thing a photographer can do to bring out your personality?

I think photographers who know how to just have good conversation, and be willing to joke around and experiment do the best in getting my personality out. Personally, I am not some kind of stick-up-the-butt type of guy, so if you get to know me and make a real connection with me like you would a friend, then I would be 100% into the shoot. Just have fun with it and good things happen, I think.


What was your most memorable shoot?

My most memorable shoot was definitely with Dyzee, his wife, and my girlfriend for the Christian streetwear brand, Armor of God Wear. It was significant not only because it was my first shoot with my new sponsor, but also because I got to share the moment with people I truly love and care about (including Danny, who was the photographer)! It was such a humbling and fun moment for me. Shameless plug: search Armor of God Wear in Facebook or Google!

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Photo Credit: Daniel Kim

What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring dancer/models?

First, get comfortable in your own skin! Whether that means really taking the time to develop and understand your style of dancing and what makes you unique, to knowing what value you bring to a photo shoot. Either way, I think if you want to do anything creative or in the arts, you need to be ready to say, “I am” and “Deal with it.” Second, don’t get too comfortable. I really believe you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone if you want to improve at anything. Last, invest in people. Dreams and aspirations are a million times more worthwhile when you can share it and uplift others in the process!


What do you want people to remember about you after a shoot?

Usually, I just want people to remember that I was cooperative and fun to work with, and someone they would really like to invest in from a relational aspect. As a side objective, I always want people to remember me as, “That crazy guy with all the painful looking freezes.”

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Who do you want to give a shoutout to?

I would like to give huge shoutouts to the following people: Dyzee and Danny for being my brothers in Christ – for encouraging me and being there for me not only in breaking, but also in life. My girlfriend, Sonnya, for being so supportive all the time and sticking with me. My mom and dad for continually supporting my aspirations in dance and life. All my B-boy and B-girl friends, including all of the Yonsei University breakers; B-boy Virus and T.I.P Crew; Vero, Big Shot and all of Jinjo Crew; Flowhio crew; and B-boys Slim, Rox-It, Seoul, Flexum, Roxrite and the IU B-boys and B-girls. Most importantly, God, for letting me do what I do and giving me purpose.


What is the biggest struggle you’ve overcome?

My biggest struggle in life came when my sister got in a car accident when I was really young – a fifth grader in elementary. She had a 25% chance of living and was in a comatose state, so my family was pretty shaken, and I was forced to grow up really fast. I am always thankful to God for this hardship though, because had it not been for this trauma, I wouldn’t have become so strong-willed, resilient, and hardworking. It really shaped me into the man I am today, and had me truly understand what having a strong internal character means.


For anyone who wants to get in touch with Michael, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Website: www.f3foranswers.wordpress.com

Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @bboyroach1


Michael, thanks so much for the candid interview! 🙂

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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