The Twin Cities break-dancing community was shocked this past summer when it learned of a breast cancer diagnosis in one of its most respected members, Lisa Berman.
The 27-year-old Berman, aka B-Girl MonaLisa, is known in the scene as an exuberant dancer and a great teacher.
After spending the first part of the summer in the Netherlands on a Jerome travel and study grant (for breaking), Berman came back and received the bad news from her doctors. She had a mastectomy and began chemotherapy last month. Breast cancer is rare in women under 40, Berman said.
Here's the good news: The breaking community has come together for a rocking benefit that will help Berman through these tough times. It happens Sunday at Pi.
"It's been so unbelievable," Berman said. "Everyone has been so supportive."
The benefit will feature performances by local break-dancing crews, beats by DJs (such as Plain Ole Bill & Jimmy 2 Times) and music by Ashley Gold and Foxy Tann & the Wham Bam Thankyou Ma'ams. There will also be a silent auction and a chance to buy torso castings painted by local graffiti artists.
The benefit will help Berman pay for medical and living expenses during her chemotherapy (additional funds will go to the cancer foundation Bright Pink). Berman works full-time as a teaching assistant at New Spirit School, a charter school in St. Paul. While she has health insurance, it doesn't cover all her expenses, and she hasn't been able to work much since treatment began.
Berman hasn't been able to dance, either.
"I miss it so much," she said. "I get really tired really fast. But when I can start breaking again, my shoes are going to be on fire. I think about it all the time. It sounds so corny, but thinking about dancing again is like my medicine."
More info: www.themonalisaproject.com.
(6 p.m. Sun., 2532 25th Av. S., Mpls. $10 donation. All ages until 9 p.m./ 18 and older after 9. 612-877-4368. pibarandrestaurant.com.)