FILE - In this file picture taken with a long time exposure on March 12, 2017, Jannis Bednarzik performs during the German Breakdance Championships in Magdeburg, Germany. Getting hip to breakdancing’s appeal with young audiences, organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics want the dance sport that spread from New York in the 1970s to become a medal event at the games. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)

Prospect of breakdancing becoming Olympic sport draws mixed reactions

Mandy Cruz, a 22-year-old breaker in Toronto, said she’s excited at the prospect

Canadian breakdancers are expressing mixed feelings about the danceform moving closer to becoming an Olympic sport — with some enthusiastic about the possibility and others concerned it may alter the underground culture around the activity.

Known more commonly as breaking, the dance is being considered for the 2024 Games in Paris, with a final decision expected in December 2020.

Mandy Cruz, a 22-year-old breaker in Toronto, said she’s excited at the prospect.

“It was a really great moment that dance is being recognized as a sport, because it’s very physically demanding and you do have to train your body like an athlete,” she said. “A lot of people overlook dancing, like it’s an easy hobby.”

Cruz said she was curious to see how breaking would be judged if it becomes an Olympic sport. Since it’s also an artform, she said it can’t be judged on athleticism alone. In typical “break battles,” judges also look for creativity and originality, she said.

And while even the possibility of becoming an Olympic sport could raise the profile of the activity, Cruz said she believes breaking will continue to be important at a local level.

“There’s a lot of people of colour going to this culture, because there’s oppression going on around them,” she said. “There’s a lot of things going on around them in this world that (breaking) is just an outlet for.”

Caerina Abrenica, an instructor with the Toronto B-Girl Movement, which supports young girls in the danceform, said a spot in the Olympic games could help boost female representation in breaking.

“Having a b-girl category in the Olympics would allow more b-girls worldwide to see the potential of where women are taking it in the dance,” she said.

Some breakers, however, are concerned about the potential elevation to the Olympic level.

“Is it going to be celebrating (breakers’) diversity? Or is this a platform that shows there’s something great that comes out of (the culture) but it’s predominantly owned or taken up by people who are more privileged,” asked Nick Nyguyen, the owner of a breaking studio in Halifax.

Marcelino “Frostflow” DaCosta, a breaker and president of the Ground Illusionz breaking crew, was also uncertain.

“It’s not a sport — it’s a dance, it’s an artform,” he said. ”There are athletic qualities to it, but the heart and essence of what this is, it’s a dance.”

DaCosta said he worried the dance could stray too far from its foundation if it becomes an Olympic event.

But Mary Fogarty, an associate professor with the department of dance at York University, said conversations on the evolution of breaking have been going on since the 80s.

“The style has already changed significantly … So I don’t see the form being transformed that much,” she said. ”These dances will always happen on the local level, it will always happen on the street and it will always have different (meaning) for people who are marginalized.”

Breaking started as one of the pillars of hip-hop culture in New York City in the 70s. Since then it has transformed into a competitive, collaborative activity around the world.

It was a medal event last October at the Buenos Aires Youth Summer Games. And Olympic organizers have said they are considering having competitions with 16 athletes in men’s and women’s medal events if breaking gets approved for the 2024 Paris Games.

Having the dance become an Olympic sport would take it to new audiences, Fogarty said, while also giving wider exposure to breakers around the world.

“This is probably the best thing that could happen for the breaking scene internationally.”

Lidia Abraha, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FVRD flooding evacuation alerts in effect

Unprotected areas affected include parts of Morris Valley Road and Lougheed Highway

Extra care required from Chilliwack drivers as students return to school

RCMP are enforcing speed limits in school zones and urging motorists to be extra cautious

VIDEO: Fraser Valley Bandits super fan celebrates 100th birthday

Abbotsford resident Gladys Sautter surprised by Bandits representatives on big day

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Cyclist in his 50s victim of fatal crash near Hope Thursday

Police have ruled out speed, impairment as factors after a tractor-trailer struck a man in his 50s

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Two more COVID-19 cases reported by Langley long term care facility

One resident, one staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Suspect sought in alleged assault, hate crime on Metro Vancouver bus: transit police

The woman then allegedly punched the teenager in the head multiple times

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Most Read