How breaking earned it’s place in the Olympics

You may have come across some form of breaking in a music video or a movie with it’s energetic body movements, head and back spins accompanied by some peppy music. So if you are wondering about how this dance evolved into an Olympic sport, read Footwork in Focus’ guide to breaking. 

Why is it called breaking?

The name breaking originates from the music played during a performance which is created by DJs mixing various songs and sounds to create a dancing beat. The rhythm produced by the DJ is called a break and the breakers improvise their steps and movements based on the music.

How is it performed?

The dancers form a circle and a breaker steps forward in the middle of the circle to dance. Sometimes there are dance battles where two breakers will call out each other and dance to see who can perform the most interesting steps.

The breakers are also called as b-boys and b-girls and can perform a number of different moves, some of the most popular ones are:

  • Footwork – hands are on the floor as legs move to the beat of the music
  • Power moves – the whole body spins while balanced on the head, back or shoulders
  • Tricks – a new dance move that no one has performed earlier

Breaking began in the 1970s on the streets of New York as dancers met their friends to practice new moves to the sound of music. In the 1980s it became quite popular as famous artists such as Michael Jackson used it in their music videos and it spread to countries across the five continents.

Breaking began in the 1970s on the streets of New York as dancers met their friends to practice new moves to the sound of music

It joins events such as surfing, skateboarding and climbing recently included in Olympics

International competitions

In the 1990s a number of international competitions were set up where breakers from various countries could some together, some of these had judges while in others the winners were selected by audience approval. This continued into the 2000s as well and these competitions created a standard way of scoring in the events. As there is no specific finish line or points, so the breakers are judged on a variety of movements and their creativity.  

In the Olympics

In 2018, breaking was included into the Summer Youth Games which was a successful debut for the dance sport. Now it joins some of the other new events such as surfing, skateboarding and climbing which have recently been included in Olympics.

The event will have 16 men and 16 women battle in separate competitions where one breaker will perform and the other will then respond. The battles will be judged on factors such as technique, creativity and variety, and we are all looking forward to it! 

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