CHENNAI: It began as a pipe dream in 2016. The World Dance Sports Federation (WDSF) put out feelers about the prospect of conducting ‘breaking’ — competitive name for breakdancing — to a world audience. The body’s first mission was to take it to the Youth Olympics in Argentina in 2018. Looking at the way people engaged with it, WDSF began plotting its next move: the Summer Games in 2024. In February 2019, Paris proposed to have it on their menu for 2024.
On December 7, the IOC executive board rubber-stamped breaking’s entry into the Olympic theatres. The news has got India’s breaking community talking. Arif Chaudhury, one of the country’s most well known breakers, barely contains his excitement when talking about the development. “Not surprised but very happy,” he tells this daily.
“Whatever I had envisioned has come true, but this sport always keeps evolving. It started from the streets, graduated to stages and now it’s going to the Olympics.” One concern that members of the community have mentioned is that the art form could be devalued, distilled a bit because of it going to the Olympics. Chaudhury bats it away. According to him, the art form will only become bigger and better. “Personally, it’s not going to devalue the form.
If anything, Olympics inclusion will result in it being upgraded. Breaking becoming a sport is great for all b-boys and b-girls because we have never been appreciated.” Johanna Rodrigues sings the same tune. One of India’s foremost b-girls says she had been hearing about it (possibility of it being included in the Olympics in the future) for three to four years. “I’m happy,” she says. “It won’t dilute the breaking movement, everyone associated with the community is very proactive about it.”
How Chaudhury, based out of the city (Mumbai) that has the biggest breaking presence in India, got into the sport also gives a peek apropos how it became culture in the 21st century in itself, since originating in New York in the 1970s. “I watched a video of a competitive event,” he explains. “The moves caught my eye and I watched that video n-times and just wanted to learn.” He has since won three national championships and taken part in the Red Bull BC One World Finals (one of the biggest events).
Rodrigues, India’s first b-girl champion, says Mumbai has a ‘huge’ breaking scene. “Mumbai is huge, last year the world final (Red Bull BC One) happened in India in November. In that jam, all the world’s best breakers were in India. India is definitely putting itself on the map in breaking.”
What are these jams? “They are a celebration of the community, competitions are not the only thing. Exchanges, workshops, DJs and MCs who host the event... all of them comprise a jam,” Rodrigues explains. Four years from now, Rodrigues, Chaudhury and a few others may have a shot at history to make a name for themselves.