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Breakin' in the Olympics: Our Thoughts

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

Last month, Breakin’ was shortlisted to be an Olympic event at the 2024 Paris Summer games. While this does not 100% guarantee it will be included, it does seem increasingly likely that the IOC will approve it. This consideration comes after Breakin’s successful Olympic debut at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. We were fortunate to have one of our top students qualify to represent the United States, although ultimately the US team did not include Breakin’ in their delegation of athletes. With all of this news, there is a lot of speculation, political infighting and general debate in the global Breakin’ and Hip Hop community. We want to take a moment to give you some of our own insight.

The Bboy Factory was founded on a mission to preserve the traditions of Breakin’ as an element of Hip Hop culture. To us and many others, we see our dance more as an art form than a sport. While bboys/bgirls certainly display incredible athleticism and execute high level body movements, we believe it is the creativity and artistry that truly makes our dance incredible. We understand why some members of our global community are against Breakin’ in the Olympics. They are afraid of the dance becoming less soulful and more mechanical. There is the danger that the real essence and foundation of the dance, the toprocks and footwork, will not be given the same respect and emphasis that the big crowd pleasing power moves and “blow ups” will. The world stage will place the dance in front of a crowd that is mostly uniformed, uneducated and uninitiated to the details and techniques that are so important.

Others feel that the essence of this dance is not in organized competition. Hip Hop as a culture is about the synergy between DJs, dancers and MCs. It is about the daring art of Graffiti writers, fresh fashion, raw energy, making something out of nothing, the bonds amongst crews and of course the cypher. The cypher is the metaphorical and literal circle of our community. Where we come together to inspire one another through our expression and feed off one another’s energy. The call and response, call out battles with no round limits and no judges, jerks and burns, party rockin’, dime stopping and losing track of time. For many of us, this is why we break, it’s where we started and it’s why this dance is so much fun to do and be a part of. Without a doubt this culture will not be presented fully by Breakin’ on the Olympic stage, but that doesn’t mean it will be lost.

We already have the huge competitions and different World Championships. Many of these competitions put Breakin’ up on a stage and leave the rest of the culture behind. We’ve already seen the dance presented with “standardized” judging systems and commentary for the common spectator. We’ve seen big money sponsors, corporate branding, “professional” teams, endorsements and everything that goes along with appeal of huge competitions. This isn’t something that is just now being created for the Olympics, and the issues that worry many in our community already exist.

It hasn’t stopped the local community jams from happening. It hasn’t stopped the cypher events from happening. It hasn’t stopped the cultural summits and exchanges from happening. It just means that Breakin’ is a spectrum. From the big corporate competitor to the essence of Hip Hop cultural practitioner and everything in between. Some are capable of existing in both ends of the spectrum. Others stick to what feels right for them. But the way we see it is that if any end of the spectrum grows, the whole thing grows.

That’s what this is all about. It’s about the growth of our dance. You can call it whatever you like: Breakin’ or Breakdance, art or sport. But imagine how many kids are going to be sitting in front of televisions around the world and watching with excitement when Breakin’ hits the Olympic stage. How many kids are going to be inspired and think to themselves that’s what they want to do. Maybe those same youth will join the larger Breakin’ community because they saw it in the athletic forum. Then they will attend a local cypher event and feel the raw energy of Hip Hop and get that same vibe that we cultural purists love, and they’ll be hooked. This is an opportunity and we see it for what it is.

When our student, Bboy Run, qualified Top 16 in the World Youth Championship he got to travel to Japan and meet other young Bboys and Bgirls from all around the world. The opportunity to travel and connect with people of other cultures is incredibly valuable for young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity. For our studio to know we’ve built an Olympic level contender and have proof that our programs develop world class quality is incredible. When more young kids decide they want to pursue this dance, they can come to us with confidence that they will have the support to push themselves to the highest levels. They will come to The Bboy Factory, because they saw it at the Olympics. When they do, we will teach them the culture. We will teach them the technique and the foundation. We will teach them to rock a cypher. We will show them the essence and teach them the traditions of Hip Hop.

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