Fri. Mar 1st, 2024
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If you haven’t thought about breaking dance since the movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo hit theaters in 1984 (or perhaps if you’re under 40, and don’t know what that even means), you’ll likely be surprised to hear it is now an Olympic sport. The International Olympics Committee, which selects and oversees the events at the Olympics, officially approved it for the 2024 Games in Paris this month.

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The move comes as the IOC is trying to seek a younger, more diverse audience. Adding breaking to the Olympics will give the art and sport of b-boying, or “breaking,” its biggest spotlight yet.Improvisational StyleB-boying, also known as street dance or freestyle dancing, is a form of urban contemporary dance that combines physical skill, improvisational creativity, and a sense of community and cypher. Its improvisational nature makes it different from other rojadirecta sports such as gymnastics, which is more structured with specific moves that are expected to be executed in a particular way.

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Breaking originated in Black and Latino neighborhoods in the 1970s. Its improvisational style made it a staple of hip-hop culture. Leading groups, like the Rock Steady Crew, went on to perform for presidents and Queen Elizabeth.Its reputation as a rough and gritty world of misfits was amplified by racism and social injustices at the time. In the early days, breakers hustled dollars from their performances as little more than buskers and talent show contestants. Their marginalization was further exacerbated by the fact that most of its early practitioners were men.Global SportToday, however, breaking is a global sport with competitions held around the world. Some of these include the Red Bull BC One World Final, which is run by the energy drink company, and the World Championships. There are also other independent organizations that organize local competitions and practices for young aspiring breakers, including the B-Girl Foundation, which has a goal of getting more girls into breaking.For Logistx, whose mother was a dancer in the 1980s, the Olympics’ inclusion of breaking is an important moment for both the art and sport of b-boying. She says the competition will be a chance to showcase breaking’s unique combination of fitness and artistic expression, unlike other sports that are more structured with certain required moves and scoring points.Rox Rite, who is also a professor at Princeton University, agrees that the addition of breaking will allow the sport to become more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.

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But he’s also worried that the IOC will co-opt the culture of breaking and turn it into something that is not authentic.ConclusionFor many of the older breakers who brought the sport to prominence in the ’70s and ’80s, the Olympic announcement has been a bittersweet moment. They’re hopeful that whoever wins the gold medal in Paris will inspire more young kids to take up breaking, but they’re also looking for a messiah — someone who can represent their style and culture at the highest level possible.

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