'When I'm dancing, that's actually when I feel better'

'When I'm dancing, that's actually when I feel better'
Cameron Dupon demonstrates some of his breakdancing moves during his class on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com Producer/Reporter.

PORTLAND, Ore. - For 23-year-old Cameron Dupon every day is a bit of a struggle.

A nerve disorder called peripheral neuropathy makes him tired, feel suddenly freezing cold or burning hot and his limbs sometimes go numb or feel like they're being pricked with pins and needles.

It's not completely debilitating but it does make day-to-day life more difficult, especially for a guy who teaches kids how to breakdance.

Dupon, who has been breakdancing for about a decade now, found out about his condition back in 2009. At that time he thought his dancing days were over.

"I wasn't dancing for a long period of time because of it (the condition)," he said. "Until I realized that I can either sit home and cry about it all day or I can start living my life the best I can and try to overcome it."

And once he made that change in his thinking, he realized the benefits of staying active.

"When I'm dancing, that's actually when I feel better," he said. "Because when you work out, a lot of the things that ail you kind of go away for a little bit of time."

'They Never Miss a Class'

Dupon's zest for life has put him back on the dance floor and he's now sharing his knowledge and talent with teenagers looking to learn the basics of breakdancing and perhaps put their own spin on it.

About three months ago, he began working as an instructor for Portland Parks & Recreation's breakdancing program. 

You can find Dupon at Parkrose High School on Mondays and Wednesdays (he teaches from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.). The classes are free and all are welcome to drop in - from beginners to pros.

We stopped by to visit Dupon and his students to see some of their moves and they did not disappoint. Here's a short video we took:

"It's just a whole lot of fun," said 14-year-old Ino Lim who has already mastered some of the advanced moves. He's actually been breakdancing since the sixth grade.

"Dancing is cool because you're freeing yourself from school and stress," said 15-year-old Juan Resendiz. "And when you dance it really shows who you are."

"I feel nervous but I get out there and I dance with my heart," said 14-year-old Nounou Xiong. She's outnumbered by the boys in the class but that's not even a factor for her. "You just have to get motivated and dance," she said.

For Dupon, having a chance to be a positive influence on teenagers while doing what he loves is what keeps him going. And of course the kids are teaching him a thing or two as well.

"It makes me reassess all my moves that I've learned over the years," he said. "And teaching them really gives me inspiration. On the days when I don't have energy or I'm tired or worn out or whatever, when I see that they're all getting on the floor and being happy with it, it inspires me to continue doing what I'm doing because I know I'm making a difference."

And the students love it.

"All of the kids I have now, they come back every single day," said Dupon. "They never miss a class."

"You know if they weren't in here they'd be out on the streets doing whatever and not expressing themselves in a positive way," he added.

'It's Blowing Up'

So is breakdancing back? Well it never really went away but it certainly is becoming popular again and Dupon said it's all thanks to the YouTube generation.

The revival began once videos of breakdancing made it onto the Internet and now kids who weren't even born when it all started are getting into it.

"It's national - it's global," said Dupon. "I mean people are breaking in Japan, people are breaking in Europe. It's crazy in Europe. It's all over the world and it's blowing up."

Upcoming Breakdancing Competition

If you'd like to see some local breakdancers, there's an event coming up on Feb. 4 at the Montavilla Community Center.

It's an open competition called Know the Ledge and the winner will go on to represent Portland in the annual Northwest Sweet 16 competition in Seattle. Here's a video of the contenders:

Admission is $7 for the event, which will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The center is located at 8219 N.E. Glisan Street.

All photos by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com Producer/Reporter