BERLIN / PARIS (dpa) – In a concrete oasis, six men from the Street Beats dance troupe gather in a circle at a youth club in Berlin-Lichtenburg. With their baggy pants and shirts, hats, and bandanas, they look like the heroes of well-known American dance movies.
They lend their “moves” to funk and other hip-hop rhythms, which roar through an elementary school-sized baby boom box. There are single arm stands, which rotate on the head or under the body, but also dance steps to the rhythm of the music. This type of dance is called breakdance or, as you correct it, “breaking.”
The dance form grew on concrete. Instead of clubs, dancers tend to organize themselves into informal groups like “Street Beatz”. This is unusual for most sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). However, breakage should be the first dance sport to be part of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
From the Bronx to Paris
Breaking is a form of acrobatic dance that requires a lot of strength, body tension and a sense of rhythm. It originated from the hip-hop culture of young African-Americans on the streets of the Bronx in New York City in the 1970s. This means that B-boys and B-Girls, as the dancers call themselves, have more to do with rappers, DJs, or graffiti artists than tennis players, dressage riders, or fencers. So why does this dance sport become Olympic?
“I think the goal of the IOC is to get back to where people play sports – to the streets,” says Thorsten Süfke, president of the Berlin State Dance Sport Federation. While people in rural areas are more likely to be members of football or gymnastics clubs, other sports such as parkour or braking are developing in Berlin and other urban areas. In Süfke’s opinion, these should also be taken seriously, because athletes train just as seriously and deserve recognition.
Balancing creativity and regulations
But this also brings with it challenges. With the entry into the Olympic competition, boys and girls have to submit to the requirements of the International Olympic Committee. The assessment of moves should be clear, understandable and fair.
Crushing actually thrives on spontaneity and creativity. It is not just a sport, it is also a way of life. This is why many supporters find it difficult to have strict regulations and fear losing a piece of creativity and culture by participating in the Olympics. “Now you have to combine the culture of staying away from the demands of organized sport – that’s a big balancing act,” says Süfke.
Although most young boys can strike a balance, many do not want to do so. So does Carl Ferdinand Picard, the youngest member of Street Beatz: “I’m taking a critical look at it. There’s probably such a thing as a slate at the Olympics and the jury decides all that needs to be accomplished—and that takes away the creativity,” 18-year-olds.
His older colleague Jerome Greenzoo “The Metronom” can understand this reasoning. However, he does not believe that culture or creativity will suffer from Olympic participation. “You have to start somewhere to become an official Olympic sport. If there is competition, there has to be a fair evaluation,” says the 46-year-old professional dancer.
Marco Griwirt, founder of Street Beatz, is also happy with the development: “In my opinion, it’s great. Now people can prove themselves who previously only danced underground.”
It is doubtful whether the young boys will not return to the subway after the Olympic Games in Paris. So far, no break has been set for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. However, the president of the National Federation of Sports Dance “hopes that the sport of dance will have a permanent home under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee after 2024”. And who knows, maybe Breaking will pave the way for other dance sports, too.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220509-99-221192 / 2