Surprising passion


Monique Munoz

On October 2, Mr. De La Torre broke out dancing in room B-107, to express his love for break dancing, even though he is primarily known for teaching Honors Geometry on campus. “I’ve liked dancing since I was a little kid, but I never really performed till now,” De La Torre said.

Sara Cabrera, Writer/ Copy Editor

Not only known for his teaching skills, Mr. De La Torre, a Trigonometry/Pre -Calculus and Geometry teacher, is a passionate breakdancer who has been perfecting his talent for roughly 4 years now.


His passion for dancing started back when he was attending Lewis Elementary School here in Downey. De La Torre and his close friend were constantly watching breakdancing videos attempting to imitate the dancers.


“We would watch videos thinking it was really cool, even though we couldn’t do it because we were so young,” he said. “We would mess around, but it wasn’t until my senior year in high school that somebody that’s really good [Anatole] decided to teach me.”


When De La Torre came back to Downey after attending the Compton Unified School District for 4 years, he discovered that his friend had assembled a dance crew at Warren High. After a year of attending Warren, he decided to join his friend’s dance crew during his senior year.

Part of his decision to join the breakdancing crew was inspired by Anatole, a professional breakdancer.  He was the son of the man who owned the factory that De La Torre worked at in the summer of 1999. He traveled to places like Hawaii and Germany to perform. He was also one of the breakdancers in the music video, “It’s Like That” by RUN DMC. Anatole was known as B-boy Cusser while performing.  He always “busted a move” for the workers, which caught De La Torre’s eye one day and he asked B-boy Cusser if he would teach him how to breakdance.


De La Torre states that his mentor was his main inspiration when he first began to breakdance. Later when his interest and passion for this hobby expanded, he was inspired by many other famous breakdancers such as B-boy Physicx, B-boy Spee-D, B-boy Hong10, and B-Boy Lilon.


“Anatole definitely got the ball rolling,” he said. “He took his time and actually wanted to teach me.”


De La Torre went on to college and stopped breakdancing.  In 2006, he started teaching at Downey High School. 2 years later he saw students, who referred to themselves as the Noobz Krew, breakdancing outside of his classroom. He noticed they lacked technique, so he decided to give them a few pointers. It was from that point on that his interest was reignited. De La Torre began training them on a regular basis, and they became an official dance crew.


This math teacher first became known as the “teacher who breakdances” when he performed at the Black Light Assembly in 2010, where he was recorded and put on YouTube. Pictures of this performance hang in his classroom along with other pictures showing off his moves.


“Once the performance began, the crowd got hyped. Nothing like this had ever been performed on campus,” Cassie Garcia, 11, member of the dance team said. “Working with him was awesome! He knew exactly what he wanted to do, and he had the experienced dancers to help him out. The crowd got excited when they saw us wear the jabawockee masks, because they knew something good was bound to happen.”


Students in his class have admitted to being shocked and surprised when it is brought to their attention that their math teacher is also a breakdancer. They have even gone as far as suggesting he show them some of his moves in the middle of a lecture.


“Honestly, they interrupt my class,” De La Torre said. “When they find out, I’ll be in the middle of teaching and someone will blurt out ‘I didn’t know you can breakdance! Show us a trick.’”


In the past the breakdancer has surprised his students by demonstrating a breakdancing move known as “swipes”.


“Usually when teachers tell their classes about themselves, they talk about their kids or how they like to teach, the basic stuff, so I thought it was pretty interesting when he told us he was a breakdancer,” Jessie Herrera, 10, said. “I was so surprised.”


Last year, the breakdancer coached his JV basketball players who were league champs. From time to time he would show them his breakdancing moves at practice in the gym.


Last year, Alfredo Munoz, an AP student, asked him for his permission to record his dancing as part of an AP history project that he was assigned. The project was a video based on all different types of dancing, and Munoz wanted De La Torre to be the breakdancer in the video.


Besides school, he has performed at the Santa Monica pier’s Promenade which is a popular place for breakdancers to go show off their talent on the weekends. While De La Torre was watching B-boy Cusser and his crew perform, he decided he would jump in and join them.


Mr. De La Torre is a dedicated, skilled, and hardworking teacher. Not only has he shown and shared his ability as a teacher, he has brought joy to his students by sharing his passion and love for breakdancing.