LOS ANGELES – Josue Figueroa is an actor, bboy and stuntman. His passion for the performing arts began in high school where he discovered drama and breaking among his predominant sports background. He acquired the name Beast Mode from his peers in the bboy community, a name worthy of his style and demeanor. He has won many international championship titles with his crews MIND180 and Skill Methodz.
Launching into the professional world of performing, he entertained theme park crowds as an acrobat and breaker before he continued on to the live Equity stunt shows “Tarzan Rocks!” and “Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular” at Walt Disney World. Subsequently after moving to LA, he has appeared in the “Step Up” movie franchise, worked as a stunt actor for the hit TV show “Southland” and has been featured in numerous commercials for brands such as Fruit of the Loom and Microsoft. As one of the original members of SOH Productions, Josue is also known for his work in Marriott’s “Two Bellmen” and other shorts.
Q: Where did you grow up?
Josue: I grew up in Orlando, Fla.
Q: Did you ever attend college? If so, where, and what was your major?
Josue: I received an A.A. from Valencia C.C. in Liberal Arts.
Q: How old were you when you started breakdancing? Tumbling?
Josue: Some of my earliest memories I can recall are of me dancing and attempting to walk on my hands as a child. I did my first back-handspring with the assistance of my PE coach in elementary school. I was 15, a sophomore in high school, when I started breaking.
Q: How many years have you been a professional bboy/stuntman? What/where was your first professional gig?
Josue: I began earning an income dancing soon after graduating high school. The earliest gigs were entertaining at Bar Mitzvahs and private parties for a local entertainment company. Not long after, I auditioned for a stunt-acrobatic group called G-Force and landed my first steady contract working at Universal Studios. I had no idea at the time that it would turn into a career of over 17 years (and counting).
Q: Was breaking popular in your area when you were growing up?
Josue: I, along with about four others, was the first to start breaking in my high school. It wasn’t popular at the time, but it grew as more media outlets became available.
Q: Have you ever taken dance classes, or how did you learn to breakdance? What class or technique proved to be most beneficial in your professional career?
Josue: I taught myself for the most part. The earliest resources were music videos from KRS-One, Common, and the movie “Beat Street.”
Later, a friend from school lent me a VHS of an event called BBoy Summit that I never returned. That turned out to be the most influential “class” in the development of my craft. In 1999 I attended Bboy Pro-Am in Miami. It was my first major jam, and I saw some of the dancers I’d been looking up to in person. That was the point of no return for me.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received about dance?
Josue: The advice has come in the form of lessons, insights and understanding of myself and self-expression.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue this field?
Josue: I didn’t really pursue this field. It never occurred to me that I could make a living breaking until I was.
I did it out of love and the joy that it brought me. The field pursued me.
Q: What inspires you?
Josue: Many things inspire me. Namely, music, athletic and creative feats, nature and other artistic expressions.
Q: You have danced in films, award shows, concerts, stage shows, competitions, battles, etc., and have traveled and lived around the world performing and teaching. Do you have a favorite place to dance?
Josue: My favorite place to dance is where I grew up and learned, Florida. There’s something about the energy there that has produced some of the most influential and talented dancers.
Q: What is your fitness regimen? How do you train?
Josue: I cross train different disciplines into my fitness regimen. It consists of boxing, surfing, yoga, CrossFit, and anything else I find enjoyable.
Q: Who are some of the celebrities with which you’ve worked?
Josue: The most notable celebrities I’ve worked with are LL Cool J on the Kings of the Mic Tour 2015, Neil Patrick Harris and Jack Black in the opening of the Academy Awards, and I’m about to begin rehearsals with Justin Bieber for the AMAs (American Music Awards) next week.
Q: What has been the highlight(s) of your career?
Josue: Winning two World Breaking Championships with both of my crews, MIND180 and Skill Methodz.
Q: How many competitions have you won?
Josue: I only easily recall the few significant experiences and competing internationally with my crewmates. One of my favorite trips was traveling through Spain a couple of weeks with my crew and surviving off the winnings from a competition.
- ’07 Bboy Unit World Championship, Korea (MIND180)
- ’07 Hip Opsession, France (MIND180)
- ’09 UK Bboy Champs (Skill Methodz)
Q: You are well-known for being an inspirational, talented and patient instructor of bboys and girls. Do you have a process for understanding your students, and how do you encourage them?
Josue: Students’ personalities and physicality level vary, but I encourage all through positive reinforcement. Keep what works and try different approaches for what does not work. The most important thing is that they have fun in the process.
Q: What classes, groups or training would you recommend for people interested in breaking?
Josue: Fortunately breaking is more popular and accessible than ever. The Internet is a great tool, and many dance studios in urban areas have instructors. I recommend trying to find the local breaking community and practices, and attend events. A good online resource to start is TheBboySpot.com.
Q: Breakdancing has evolved substantially since its origin in the 70s and 80s. Do you still incorporate some of the old school styles and music?
Josue: Absolutely. I will always incorporate traditional styles because it’s a part of the fundamentals of this cultural art form. It’s important to preserve history and have an understanding of foundation; otherwise, it would become something entirely different.
Q: Do you have any pet peeves when watching bboys/girls?
Josue: I particularly dislike obnoxiousness, disrespect or bullying.
Q: What is next for you? What goals have you not reached yet?
Josue: As far as dance is concerned, I want to capture more of those raw expression moments at the competitive level. Other than that, I’m currently more focused on my acting training. It is very challenging, but I hope to create great work and accomplish a healthy working career as an actor.
Q: To what or whom would you give credit for your success?
Josue: Everyone that has been a significant part of my life has shaped me into the person I’ve become. Therefore, my success is due to everyone who’s hired me and given me the experience and opportunity to express, learn and grow; my crewmates for the inspiration and friendships; my mom for the unconditional love and support.
Q: What percentage of your job is devoted to business and marketing?
Josue: Probably something like 70-80 percent, considering that most of the time is spent trying to get jobs than actually working. This consists of emails, networking, social media, updating promotional material, auditioning, etc.
Q: Who are/were your mentors, and what have they taught you?
Josue: One of the first and most influential is my first entertainment boss, Mike Garcia. He taught me my first lessons on showmanship, professionalism, work ethic and how attitude is everything.
Q: Do you have a favorite book, movie, song, musician, poem/poet or artist?
Josue: No one favorite, but some off the top of my head are:
Book: “The Alchemist”
Musician: Bob Marley
Movie: “The Matrix”
Poet: Saul Williams
Q: How high of a priority is it to collaborate and network in the entertainment community in Los Angeles? How do you form friendships in such a competitive world?
Josue: The height in priority is relative, but collaboration and networking is needed if you want to be a part of the community. One way to form friendships is by taking classes.
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
Q: When did you decide to move to LA? Did something happen that led you there? Did you have a job waiting, or did you go there and take a chance?
Josue: I wanted to move to LA earlier than I did, but a knee injury set me back and kept me in Orlando for some time while I had job security. I already had some of my crew mates living and working in LA when I finally moved in 2008, so I had a place to crash.
Q: Do you have an agent or manager? How did you decide who to sign with, and how important is it for dancers to sign with an agency in LA? How long were you in LA before you signed with an agency? Do you have different agents for different things?
Josue: I do. Initially whoever will take you; eventually, whomever you have a good relationship with. It’s definitely better to have an agent. I was fortunate enough to find a dance agent within a few months of moving to LA because of friends’ referrals and my specialty. Currently I’m represented by GTA for dance, KMR for stunts, Work! Talent for commercials, and I’m managed by DMG.
Q: How many auditions, on average, do you attend per month? What is the average length of a working contract?
Josue: Monthly auditions can vary significantly, but on average, anywhere from two to eight, if any. Most contracts for dance are only about a week long being that they’re usually for a temporary appearance in film, television or commercial. The longer contracts are the artist touring or stage shows.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Josue: Job insecurity. Not knowing when the next one will be. Even though not working can get worrisome, I enjoy my free time doing things like surfing and training. It’s important to maintain a training regimen so that you’re always ready when an opportunity arises. I have worked other jobs outside of performing to make money whenever possible.
Q: What advice do you have for people wanting to move to LA to pursue a similar career?
Josue: Don’t do it… we’re overcrowded… Seriously though, do what makes you happy. I actually had a rough first couple of years adjusting and finding work. I don’t know how I would have made it this far if it wasn’t for the help and support of my friends.
My advice: Come prepared financially, physically and mentally.
Your turn! What questions do you have for Josue?
Leave a question or comment below.
Connect with and follow Josue on his journey:
- Twitter: @beast180skmz
- Instagram: @beast180skmz