Last dance: 10th year is finale for Willie Kruger dance competition

The annual event memorializes a late, great Duluth break dancer.

Willie Kruger helped make break dancing popular in Duluth in the mid-1980s. This year marks the 10th annual Willie Kruger Dance Competition, a memorial. Bob King / 1984 file / Duluth News Tribune

In 1984, Willie Kruger was featured in a photograph in the News Tribune, mid-step of a rehearsal for The Icebreakers, a break-dance show that was to be held at then-Washington Junior High.

Kruger was part of the local scene that learned moves from Alvin Carter at the YMCA, and then danced in Duluth's Central Hillside, West Duluth bars, or in friendly competitions at Faces, a mid-80s booze-free club for teens. When Kruger died unexpectedly in 2010, this is how family and friends chose to memorialize him: with dance.

The 10th annual Willie Kruger Dance Competition is 2-6 p.m. Nov. 7 at The Encounter, 201 E. First St. Dancers age 9 and older are welcome to compete in the amateur, open-dance competition. There is no entry free, but organizers are accepting donations of hats and mittens for the homeless.

This year marks the finale of the event, according to John D'Auria, Kruger's cousin and the organizer behind the showcase. He remembered telling himself at the start that if the event lasted 10 years, he would be happy.

"I've gotten more out of it than I ever thought," he said.


This year's competition will include 1985 Icebreakers show footage, which will play publicly for the first time. D'Auria has edited the video to create a version that will play on a loop throughout the event. Even people featured in the old video haven't seen it yet, he said.

Mac Streetz is scheduled to perform during the event.

Kruger died Nov. 5, 2010. He was 40.

If you go

What: Willie Kruger Dance Competition

When: 2-6 p.m. Nov. 7

Where: The Encounter, 201 E. First St.

Tickets: Free, open to the public. Accepting donations of gloves, scarves, hats

Related Topics: THEATER
Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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