Explained: How breakdancing broke onto the 2024 Paris Olympic stage

Written by Shivani Naik, edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |

December 11, 2020 1:37:06 pm





Carlos Cruz, a breakdancing dancer, practices at a kiosk in Alameda Park, in Mexico City. (AP Photo: Fernando Llano, file)

This was an unprecedented week for the Olympics, with breakdance included as a medal event for the Paris 2024 Games. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of seeing B Girls and B Boys (as breakdancers are called) in the company of elite athletes elicited mixed reactions. While the old school has not stopped rolling its eyes, the regulars on the race track attest to the faster, higher and stronger foundations of this new Olympic discipline.

How did Breaking break onto the Olympic scene?

Around 2016, the World Dance Sports Federation (WDSF) floated the idea that Breaking could be a perfect fit for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG). Feeling how dynamic, creative and urban it was inherently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) drafted it into the YOG to be held in Buenos Aires in 2018, where the first of the ‘Battles’ took place in front of a hugely in love audience. The huge crowds of voices at the venue and the encouraging figures backing the sport from the Olympic Channel broadcast and social media helped Breaking outperform several other sports. In December 2018, the organizers of the Paris 2024 Games told WDSF that they were very receptive to including Breaking tentatively on the Paris Games program and a full listing was announced in December.

What will Breaking look like in Paris?

The likely format in Paris will see 32 breakers (16 B-Boys and 16 B-Girls) compete during two days of competitive 1v1 freestyle hip-hop duels called ‘Battles’. The preliminaries on Day 1 and the Finals on Day 2, similar to last year’s World Urban Games, will be judged according to the ‘Trivium Value System’.

Six criteria are considered: technique, variety, performativity, musicality, creativity and personality. In duels, two breakers face off and judge each other directly. The dancers do not normally choose their music and are expected to react and adapt to the bears in real time. DJs, a master of ceremonies, highly respected judges and members of the local Breaking community circle the dance floor as the Battlers advance and reverse three rounds of each other to the same music.

How do you rate Breaking as a sport, even though critics downplay it as a mere ‘cultural art form’?

“There are those who have trouble associating it with a sports competition,” says Jean-Laurent Bourquin, senior advisor to the World Federation of Sports Dance, who helped steer Breaking’s charge toward Olympic inclusion. But in any Breaking performance, there is always an athletic dimension. Breaking features different types of movements, including foot movements performed from a standing position, movements on the floor performed with the body supported by the hands and feet, holding positions, and acrobatic performances, all of which require a great deal of coordination, strength and endurance. It is definitely a combination of sport and art, ”he said.

Professionally competing BBoys and BGirls have been known to lead extremely healthy lifestyles, eat the right foods, do extensive workouts for strength training, perfect techniques, and spend hours on reps, no matter the baggy, casual tracks, caps. baseball and a relaxed atmosphere.

“For me, the most satisfying part of this Olympic trip was seeing some of those who were hesitant to do a 180 in Buenos Aires. They went from being skeptical to becoming some of the staunch supporters of the Olympic Break. That was a crucial moment, ”Borquin said.

Is breaking up similar to gymnastics and figure skating in the way it is judged?

No. In Breaking, nothing is coded and breakers do not receive a number of points for performing a certain movement as in figure skating, for example. “In a battle, we compare two performances, one of which may be better in terms of sheer technique but not in terms of musicality, performance, or physical explosiveness. That is why we created the Trivium evaluation system: it is holistic in the sense that it guarantees that physicality (body), artistic capacity (mind) and interpretive quality (soul) are considered in real time by the judges ”, explained Borquin. 📣 Follow Express explained on Telegram

What is the existing nature of the Breaking competitive circuit and what is the extent of its reach?

The WDSF holds its own official events, although Breaking has a broader scope with cult competitions such as Red Bull BC One, Outbreak Europe and the Silverback Open. What started in the Bronx in the 1970s is now popular around the world among South Korea, Russia, France, and Japan, showing exponential growth in their BBoying and BGirling numbers.

The 32 breakers who qualified for the World Urban Games last September came from 21 different countries, including Venezuela, Egypt and Bulgaria. The 24 dancers at the Youth Olympic Games represented 18 countries (with nine different countries from three continents winning medals), while 66 countries participated in the 2019 WDSF World Breaking Championships in Nanjing, including dancers from Bhutan, Cameroon, El Salvador, India, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Laos, and Rwanda.

Why is Breaking’s reach his strongest stick?

In an Olympic first, the WDSF held an online qualifying video for the Youth Olympic Games that was open to any world breaker between the ages of 15 and 18, a requirement to compete in Argentina. About 1,000 people submitted one-minute videos of themselves in action, and the best ones were selected by a panel of judges.

“It was at this stage that we realized how popular Breaking was around the world, with entries coming from all continents and from a number of countries we might not have expected, like Nepal, for example. The biggest surprise was the actual skill levels of the young dancers. We realized that Breaking is practiced in the four corners of the world to a very high standard, ”said Borquin.

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