WDSF Breaking for Gold

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Media Swarm to JDSF Press Conference on Breaking at Paris 2024

18 Dec 2020 09:36

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To mark Breaking’s official inclusion on the sports programme for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the Japanese DanceSport Federation (JDSF) on 14 December held a press conference at its headquarters in Tokyo that was widely attended by local media.

Appearing at the press conference alongside JDSF President Toshitsugu Saito, JDSF Managing Director Atsushi Yamada and JDSF Head of Breaking Katsuyiki Ishikawa (aka Katsu One) were b-girl Narumi, b-girl Ami, b-girl Yuika, b-boy Yukki, b-boy Raion, and Youth Olympic Games medalists b-girl Ram and b-boy Shigekix.

“The first thing I thought about was that I'm very happy that I have the opportunity to let various people know about Breaking, which I've always loved,” said 18-year-old Shigekix, who recently became the youngest ever Red Bull BC One champion. “Paris 2024 will be a huge goal and motivation for me, and of course I am looking forward to it.”

B-girl Ram added that she was also pleased about the increased spotlight Breaking will receive thanks to its Olympic inclusion.

“I won two medals at the Youth Olympic Games, and I was interviewed by various media, including newspapers and television,” she said. “I am very happy to have this opportunity to let more people know about Breaking.”

The decision to include Breaking at Paris 2024 was made on 7 December by the IOC Executive Board at its final meeting of 2020. The competition at Paris 2024 will feature 16 b-boys and 16 b-girls competing in 1vs1 battles.

The IOC decision was well-received in Japan, following on from Japan’s strong showing at the Breaking events at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, where Ram won gold in the 1vs1 battles and in the mixed-gender, mixed-nationality 2vs2 battles, while Shigekix took bronze in the 1vs1 b-boy event.

B-girl Ami, who won the WDSF World Breaking Championship in 2019, was in a thankful mood following the news that Breaking had been added to Paris 2024. “I have met so many people and had so many experiences through Breaking that I can only be very grateful for it,” she said. “I’m glad and looking forward to Breaking becoming an Olympic sport as it will be an opportunity for many people to learn more about it. I will also be aiming for a berth at Paris 2024.”

Following the press conference, a Breaking demonstration was held to educate the media and general public on the basic fundamentals of the DanceSport.

The JDSF is the WDSF National Member Body for Japan. In 2018, the JDSF successfully hosted the WDSF World Youth Breaking Championship in Kawasaki, which was the final qualifying event for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

To watch the press conference (in Japanese) click here.

Breaking officially added to Olympic Games Paris 2024

07 Dec 2020 08:46

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The World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) is delighted with today’s decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to officially include Breaking on the sports programme for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

Breaking will become the first DanceSport discipline to appear at an Olympic Games, following on from its successful debut at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2018.

“Today is a historic occasion not only for b-boys and b-girls but for all dancers around the world,” said WDSF President Shawn Tay. “The WDSF could not be prouder to have Breaking included at Paris 2024, and we thank everyone who helped make it possible: the Executive Board of the IOC, the Paris 2024 organisers, the WDSF staff and, most importantly, the Breaking community itself.

“It was a true team effort to get to this moment and we will redouble our efforts in the lead-up to the Olympic Games to make sure the Breaking competition at Paris 2024 will be unforgettable.”

The decision to include Breaking at Paris 2024 was made today by the IOC Executive Board at its final meeting of 2020. The competition at Paris 2024 will feature 16 b-boys and 16 b-girls competing in 1vs1 battles.

The Executive Board also approved Skateboarding, Sport Climbing and Surfing for the sports programme of the XXXIII Olympiad, which is scheduled to take place in the French capital from 26 July to 11 August 2024.

The Paris 2024 organisers proposed the four sports in response to a new level of flexibility afforded to Olympic Games Host Cities to encourage innovation in the Olympic programme. Host Cities, beginning with Tokyo 2020, have the option of suggesting new sports and events for inclusion in their edition of the Games that are not binding on future Games hosts.

“It is with immense joy and a touch of relief that we welcome this unprecedented decision,” said Mounir Biba, a French b-boy and Breaking ambassador who was a judge at the Buenos Aires YOG. “It is a big step forward and a historical moment. Starting from nothing 50 years ago, Breaking was built on its own but it has now found a family.  It only remains for us to live up to the honour bestowed upon us, but I am fully confident we will.

“There are many passionate people on the ground around the world doing a tremendous job every day to nurture and preserve the culture of Breaking. The sporting journey that we are on will only strengthen the position that I have always defended, namely that we are athletes! I commend the willingness of the Paris 2024 organisers, the work of the WDSF and the choice of the IOC to include our sport in the Paris Olympic Games. See you in 2024 for a great show.”

Today’s decision by the IOC recognises the worldwide appeal and growth of Breaking, as exemplified by the success of Breaking’s three medal events at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina, where upwards of 30,000 people came each day to see the competition.

Since then, Breaking’s Olympic journey has moved from strength to strength. The 2019 WDSF World Breaking Championship, held in Nanjing, China, was hailed as an outstanding success. Over 150 b-boys and b-girls from 66 countries, including some of the biggest names in Breaking, competed at the event. The 2020 edition of the championship, also set to take place in Nanjing, was postponed to 2021 as a result of the pandemic.

Breaking turned heads at the first edition of the World Urban Games (WUG) in September 2019 in Budapest, Hungary, and is slated to make its mark on the next edition of the World Games as well, scheduled for July 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

In December 2019, the IOC confirmed that Breaking would return for the next summer Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal. Originally scheduled for 2022, the Dakar YOG were postponed earlier this year to 2026 due to COVID-19.

Breaking becoming a part of the Games is something beautiful. It brings more value to dancing for people who don't know about it. It brings a lot of opportunities and sponsors. I'm very happy and I cannot wait.
B-boy Lil Zoo (MAR)

I think Breaking becoming a part of the Games is a nice opportunity to grow. My tip for winning is to be an open-minded person, be open to the scene and be aware of your weaknesses. Just be true to who you are.
B-girl Kastet (RUS)

When I just started Breaking, nobody believed it was something serious. If you watch it nowadays, you can see the level of Breaking - how high it has developed itself through amazing moves and a very artistic approach. It’s become an art, it’s become a sport, and a global culture. Everything is possible and you can develop yourself as an amazing artist, an amazing athlete.
B-girl Mess (NED)

If I were to represent my country at the Games, it would be so overwhelming. To represent somewhere like that where it has a huge identity and the general public can get involved and see what we do - it would be an incredible thing. I'd be honoured by it and I would love to do that.
B-boy Kid Karam (GBR)

It is such an amazing thing that Breaking is going to be one of the sports at the Games. If I will be able to represent my country, I would like to do my best and show everything that I can.
B-boy Shigekix (JPN)

I’ve been Breaking since I was 14 and I never really expected that one day I might be able to represent Belgium at the Games. If I'm lucky and do good in the next years, maybe one day I'll get the chance. Let's go!
B-girl Madmax (BEL)

Back to the future with B-Boy Bumblebee

23 Nov 2020 17:12

image-23-11-20-05-42.jpegThe International Olympic Committee (IOC) will soon make its official decision on whether or not Breaking will be added to the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

As the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) looks ahead to Breaking’s future, we also thought it would be a good time to reflect on the past, in particular to Breaking’s Olympic debut at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires in 2018.

And who better to speak with on the subject than YOG gold medallist Sergei Chernyshev, aka b-boy Bumblebee?

The 20-year-old native of Voronezh, Russia reached the podium twice at the Urban Park in Buenos Aires, first after beating b-boy Martin of France in the final of the 1vs1 battles, and later when he claimed bronze with b-girl Ella of Austria in the Bonnie & Clyde event.

Like father, like son

Bumblebee says he has many fond memories from his three weeks in Argentina, but if he had to single out one in particular, bringing home gold for his father would be at the top of the list.

Sergei Sr. was one of the first breakers in Voronezh, and his son followed in his footsteps at the age of 9 when he first started working on his moves. His parents still run a dance studio in the city.

“My father left the park after quarterfinals – he wanted me to concentrate, not be distracted by him, feel less pressure,” Bumblebee says. “We only met again after the final. So that moment meeting up is probably the most memorable. He left, he trusted me, and I didn’t disappoint.

“When I saw him, you know, it was a similar feeling to when you give someone a cool gift that you have been preparing for a long time. At the same time, I understood that we prepared everything together, and I simply completed the final part. Everything worked out.”

The Youth Olympic Games are often billed as the ultimate multi-sports event for young athletes, but they are about much more than just competing. They are also about learning important skills, connecting to other cultures and celebrating the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.

Fast friends

Bumblebee certainly seemed to take all of that to heart while in Buenos Aires. Rather than fly directly home after the YOG had ended, he remained in Argentina so he could compete at a Latin American championship with his new Argentine friend, b-boy Fabez. The duo took part in the 2vs2 battles at the event and were eventually crowned champions. [Watch footage of the pair in action here.]

“I met local b-boy Fabez at the Games,” Bumblebee says. “He was there as staff and accompanied us to training, prepared a gym for us. We got along from the first meeting. He supported me a lot during the days of competition, and his support really gave me energy. I’m not sure why, he just somehow knew what was needed to say.”

The two cemented their friendship during the 2vs2 battles and remain close to this day.

“After our victory, he was invited to Europe and travelled abroad for the first time,” says Bumblebee. “He was on the road for about a year in total and even got to Russia, to Voronezh, where he stayed with us for 10 days in the summer of 2019. Then he travelled from Austria to Budapest to support me at the World Urban Games. And we still communicate to this day. He really became a good friend.”

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Having won two medals at the YOG, Bumblebee quickly became the talk of the town in Buenos Aires as well as a darling of the Olympic Channel. The Channel was so impressed with his star potential that they invited him to the Olympic Capital of Lausanne, Switzerland, to work in front of the camera during the Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020. While at the winter YOG, Bumblebee met and interviewed a wide variety of people, from athletes to IOC Members, including Russian pole-vaulting queen Yelena Isinbaeva.

A video of Bumblebee even went viral during the YOG, helping him receive mentions in such mainstream media outlets as Sports Illustrated and The New York Times.

The only constant is change

Like a number of his peers from the YOG, Bumblebee saw his schedule become busier and busier following Buenos Aires.

“Life has changed. It has become more intense. I travel more often, work, and train hard,” he says, adding that Breaking itself has also been evolving.

“Breaking …. now also has a sporting path. Many people, in fact, worried in vain that sports would eat up the cultural component of the art form but everything remains, everything works harmoniously together,” he says. “The prize money has grown, the budgets of the festivals have grown. In general, the demand for Breaking is growing, so the dancers have more commercial opportunities as well.

“For me, I try to find a balance in all this: in sports, and in what came before it. And I can tell you that it works. So there have been changes both for me and for the whole direction, and more of them will happen closer to 2024, when Breaking becomes even more popular.”

The Executive Board of the IOC is set to make its final decision on whether to include Breaking (along with Skateboarding, Sport Climbing and Surfing) on the sports programme for Paris 2024 at its next meeting on 9-10 December.

Lemons into lemonade

Bumblebee is confident Breaking will make the grade next month and considers it to be a “cool” development. But of more immediate concern is simply to get back into competition after a year of postponements and cancellations. While online battles have sustained Breaking’s momentum during the pandemic, Bumblebee admits to not being a fan of the virtual format.

“In the summer we had a couple of real – not online but offline – battles in Russia, one of which was the Yalta Summer Jam (where I came in second),” he says. “They were breaths of fresh air. And in September and October we also had the Russian Championship and the Open Breaking Championship.”

But for the time being his calendar is fairly empty for the rest of the year, a development he accepts quite pragmatically. In fact, it seems that Bumblebee has adopted a when-life-gives-you-lemons-make-lemonade approach to all the downtime, taking the time, for example, to learn to drive, obtain his driver’s license and study English.

“The whole world has stopped,” Bumblebee says. “But in terms of Breaking, I actually see a plus in this. We need to pause sometimes so that we can stop and rethink everything. This is useful. After pauses, development accelerates. So I took the lockdown fine. I had the opportunity to train, I went to my parents' studio alone and did it. This training also had a beneficial effect on me.”

THE EVOLUTION OF SEÑORITA CARLOTA

03 Nov 2020 07:16

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B-girl Señorita Carlota has come a long way since her appearance as a 16-year-old at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

Since then she’s travelled the world competing in battles, showcased Breaking for Olympic decision-makers, obtained her Baccalaureate, and continued to grow as both a dancer and a person.

While the hard work and dedication are all her own, she credits her experience at the YOG for providing the inspiration to develop even further. 

“In two years, a lot has happened,” the now 18-year-old breaker says. “I’ve been through many things, but I've grown up and it’s obvious that the YOG had a considerable impact on that. I am building myself as a young woman and also as a dancer. My dancing is evolving and you can feel that it has matured. This year I moved out on my own to devote myself to my studies and my sport and I think that this will contribute even more to my growth and construction.”

Carlota became the first Frenchwoman to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, and she did her country proud, finishing a respectable 5th in the 1vs1 battles against predominantly older competition. 

Breaking made its Olympic debut in Buenos Aires, and thanks to the crowd-pleasing performances of Carlota and the 23 other Breakers (12 b-girls and 12 b-boys in total), the DanceSport discipline is now being considered for inclusion on the sport programme for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. An official decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be made in early December.

Carlota recalls her time in Buenos Aires fondly, and has indelible memories of her first exposure to the Olympic experience.

“The beauty of the Youth Olympic Games is that it was a series of events that combined to create a unique experience,” she says. “Several moments in particular made an impression on me, including our arrival at the Olympic Village (it was so impressive to find ourselves in front of this village full of flags, activities and sportsmen and women coming from all over the world), the Opening Ceremony, which was splendid, and finally the realization that all our efforts during the competition, the atmosphere, and the level at which we competed were appreciated and we felt proud to be part of the delegations!”

As her name suggests, Señorita Carlota comes from Latin heritage, namely Cuban. Her background made the visit to Argentina for the YOG even more special, as she was keenly interested in sinking her teeth into the culture and surroundings when she wasn’t training or competing. 

“It was my first time in Argentina,” she says. “Indeed, my Cuban origins mean that a part of me belongs to this Latin American culture and it was therefore important for me to discover the country. Argentina left me with beautiful memories. I was able to walk in the beautiful streets of Buenos Aires, visit the markets, have lunch at the restaurant ‘La Poesía,’ taste the famous dulce de leche and meet nice and welcoming people. 

“After staying in Buenos Aires, it became a dream for me to visit the whole of Argentina.”

But her favourite memory from the YOG was something else entirely – a meeting with dancer, choreographer, instructor and influencer Kaelynn ‘KK’ Harris. 

“In the morning, my girlfriends sent me a photo of [Kaelynn] showing that she has arrived in the Olympic Village, so they asked me to try and get a picture with her,” Carlota recalls. “The next day I found myself not only taking a photo with her but also filming a promotional video for the Olympic Channel, where I taught her some breaking choreography. I guess I still can’t believe that I'm the one who taught her a lesson when I only dreamed of having a picture with her.”

The Breaking competition in Buenos Aires was held in the Urban Park from 7-11 October, and in addition to 1v1 battles, Bonnie & Clyde battles also took place, featuring mixed-gender pairs from different countries. The 24 Breakers had already grown close before these battles, but it was clear their bonds strengthened even more once they came together as teammates.

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Following the YOG, Carlota says she has kept in contact with most of the BA alumni, mainly through social media, and says she continues to be impressed with all the great things they continue to achieve. 

“I am still in contact with the YOG dancers, of course,” Carlota says.  “We keep in touch, we follow each other on social media, and the most fascinating thing is to see and react to how we evolve after this common experience. To see how it has impacted each one of us and the new objectives we manage to unlock, the way we evolve and the new projects we manage to carry out.” 

One personal accomplishment with possible long-term implications was a stint Carlota enjoyed with the Paris 2024 local organising committee. 

“I was lucky, along with b-boy Lagaet, to be able to represent Breaking during a demonstration for the IOC Coordination Commission during their visit to Marseille [an Olympic site location for Paris 2024],” Carlota says. “It was a great moment, the Commission was super receptive, and we were able to highlight our sport, the beauty and uniqueness of it. I felt that I was directly involved in the advancement of Breaking at the Olympics.”

Carlota’s efforts have already borne fruit. Breaking was provisionally included on the programme for Paris 2024 along with skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing, in September 2019. The DanceSport discipline is considered to have a good chance of receiving official approval at the next IOC Executive Board meeting from 8-10 December. 

Breaking is popular in France, with some 560 national and 11 major international Breaking events held in the country every year. There is also a powerful development programme at the national level in place, aimed at supporting competing b-boys and b-girls with coaching and training preparation. More than 10,000 athletes have already benefited from the programme.

The 2024 Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in the French capital from 26 July to 11 August.

“I think it’s great that Breaking could be included at Paris 2024!,” says Carlota. “What I love about this sport is that it’s multi-faceted. There’s the cultural dimension, the artistic dimension and the sporting dimension. I think it’s a chance [for the Olympics to gain] so much richness from one discipline, and it’s so important to be able to explore and exploit them all. The competition format is evolving, and we have to use this experience to continue to take Breaking forward with all the other aspects we have to offer.” 

Ahead of the IOC decision in December, Carlota says she is doing everything she can to continue her personal growth during the COVID-19 pandemic and is looking forward to better things ahead in 2021.

“Despite the alarming situation, it has been very beneficial to me,” Carlota says of the coronavirus lockdown and other measures implemented to contain the virus. “It has allowed me to breathe, settle down and focus on myself and my needs. I was able to take the time to identify and mobilise the tools I needed to evolve. I am lucky to have been able to fit out my garage and dedicate myself to my training. It has allowed me to work on my weak points more calmly and come back with more technique and material. So it’s been a calm time for me that has allowed me to strengthen myself. 

“What I am now expecting from 2021 is that COVID-19 will end and allow me to bring out all the resources I have mobilised and express myself freely. Having been deprived of contact with others, I also want to evolve by becoming more present in my exchanges and sharing with others.”

B-boy Moy Has High Hopes for Breaking En Route to Paris 2024

09 Oct 2020 11:30

bboy-moy.jpgInterest in Breaking has seen a sharp increase worldwide since its provisional inclusion on the program for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

One person who saw significant potential in Breaking years before its Olympic affiliations was Moises Rivas, aka b-boy Moy. With his successful Break Free Hip-Hop Schools, mentoring programs, global competitions and much more, Moy now stands at the forefront with those attempting to elevate the artform to greater heights.

Moy founded his first Break Free Hip-Hop School in Houston, Texas back in 2011 to give young people in the community a place where they could freely express themselves as individuals, become goal oriented, and learn about the positivity of hip-hop culture through Breaking, DJ’ing, art and poetry. All lessons that he himself learned growing up that allowed him to get off the streets and build a solid career as a successful Breaker.

Since 2011, Moy has seen his one school grow into five, the most recent of which opened in Phoenix, Arizona on 1 October. His aim is to have 100 schools in operation globally by the time the flame is lit to start the Olympic Games in Paris in four years’ time.

That’s a lofty goal for any company, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, which has hurt businesses across the board, especially those in sports and the arts. But Moy is undeterred, explaining that he is currently in talks with potential partners in Belgium, Chile, Japan, Ukraine, other cities in the United States, among others.

“It’s been difficult with the pandemic but we’re constantly trying to evolutionize how Breaking is perceived,” he says. “It’s from the street but at the same time it’s provided a career path for myself and many others in the Breaking community, so why can’t we build a stronger platform that is motivated by us inspiring b-boys and b-girls that want to pursue this at a higher level? And especially with Breaking potentially moving into the Olympics in Paris 2024 and beyond, I think it’s important for us to professionalize and take everything to another level.”

Breaking will be handed its Olympic fate this December when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes its final vote on whether it makes the grade for Paris 2024 or not.

But like most people in the community, Moy is not sitting around doing nothing in the meantime. Quite the contrary. In addition to opening up his fifth school, he has also been busy putting the final touches on what will be his third major online Breaking competition of 2020, with a fourth (and bigger still) slated to take place in December.

“COVID-19 really sparked us to do something quickly due to the stoppage of all events. There was definitely not anything going to be happening in 2020 otherwise [without going online],” Moy says. “So we didn’t want to stop the momentum that Breaking had and we thought it was important for Break Free to make this investment to be able to showcase to people at the WDSF, to people at the IOC, to people in the community, that regardless of what we’re going through, we should still find a way to continue.

“We wanted to showcase that we are able to connect even in the time of need.”

And connect they have. The first two Break Free Worldwide events held online in April and July each featured between 400 and 500 b-boys and b-girls from countries around the world. The multiple days of competition were viewed in 75 countries and over 300 cities each, with over 2 million impressions achieved globally.

So things clearly bode well for Moy’s latest project, called the SURVIV-ILL Championship. Set to take place this weekend (9-11 October), SURVIV-ILL is being billed as “the essence of a raw battle brought to the competitive stage. Unlimited rounds – a test of strength, stamina and style.”

“Last year during our Break Free Activation Day, people went bananas over [the new format],” Moy says. “They loved it. They loved the entertainment side of it, they loved the sport side of it, they loved the challenge side of it. So people asked for it and that’s why we’re bringing it back.”

The SURVIV-ILL Championship will feature 64 b-boys and 64 b-girls battling it out in a regular, two-round format until the semifinals, when those rules are then tossed out the window. From the semis on it will be a knock-down, drag-out battle to the finish with unlimited rounds. The only way a Breaker can lose is if they give up or two of the three judges throw in their towels.

“The beauty of this event is that you have to be built to last. You have to be strategic about your moves, about your breathing, etc.,” Moy says. “It’s really entertaining, and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. It definitely takes a toll on the body.”

One of the more compelling components of all Break Free activities is the focus on inclusivity and opportunity. Unlike other Breaking events, SURVIV-ILL will see a total of 128 b-boys and b-girls competing, far more than the usual 64, 32 or 16. Moy has instilled this openness in Break Free since 2011 and he continues to look for ways to open doors for young people to learn about hip hop culture and widen their horizons in the process.

“Right now, a lot of kids growing up want to play basketball, baseball, soccer, baseball. But maybe they're also looking for something different,” Moy says. “And this is why I do what I do. Because when I was younger, I was looking for a way to get involved without being expressive in words, but through action, and Breaking allowed for that.

“The heart and soul of Break Free,” Moy concludes, “is in building up the Breaking community. We provide positive reinforcement for positive alternatives.”

For more info, check out the Break Free Worldwide website.

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