Through breakdancing, males are able to transgress the culturallimitations imposed on their bodies that socially discourage their participation in the ‘feminine’ activity of dance. This re-categorisation of dance consequently affects femaleparticipation, and the minority that do participate are confronted with articulating their bodyin both a masculine and feminine manner. Breakdancing is therefore a paradoxical physicalactivity and culture, particularly regarding the articulation of gender.
Not only does this paper give a thorough run-down of what breaking is and what sorts of martial arts influences it has (especially capoeira) but it presents a strong argument for breaking's gender polarity. Though dance in general is thought of as a feminine activity, breaking or b-boying is masculine. Most crews I encounter have a token girl or no girl at all. That is not to say that b-boys look down upon b-girls (quite the contrary, I often hear cheers when a girl steps out to battle). Breaking is simply more athletically demanding and sometimes more intimidating to women. There are many talented b-girls, one reputable crew known as the Beat Freaks.
The Jabbawockeez' influence has spanned the globe inspiring minds through music and dance. Dressing in expressionless white masks and white gloves, the crew guides the audience's attention away from individual identities and towards a unified and synchronized group. The Jabbawockeez create a canvas for the audience to visualize the music as they paint beautiful and artistic imagery through precise, intricate movements.
Established in 2003, this young professional dance crew has developed a one-of-a-kind style and culture, setting new standards in the industry. Known for creativity, unique choreography, athleticism and intricate synchronization, the Jabbawockeez have changed the way we see dance.
Dance crews reflect its more violent origins in gangs and street culture, a tightly-knit group set to defeat other groups. However though crews battle each other, they also choreograph, perform, and sometimes even live together as a group of close friends. The Jabbawockeez put dance crews in the spotlight and inspired many young dancers to form their own crews.
The Braun Battle of the Year (BOTY) is the biggest b-boying competition in the world, often referred to as the ‘world cup of breakdancing’.
As a b-boy, it does not get much bigger than competing at the Braun Battle of the Year finals. Just to get there, crews must first compete in regional BOTY preliminaries around the world. Then, in front of a packed audience, they perform a six-minute choreographed routine which is judged on synchronicity, stage presence, theme, music, as well as b-boying moves.
The best crews then go through to the final battles, an electrifying unscripted play-off that sees the rival b-boys battling each other, face-to-face, individually and as a crew, for the ultimate prize.
Another area of hip-hop into which b-boying can provide deep insight is the role of competition and the specific ways it can affect one's outlook toward cultural production. This is an important factor in any discussion of hip-hop culture and one for which b-boys and b-girls have developed a highly sophisticated analysis. Battling is foundational in all forms of hip-hop, and the articulation of strategy--"battle tactics"--is the backbone of its philosophy of aesthetics.
1960s: Small beginnings
The civil rights movement emerges in the United States. The unrest felt in society is mirrored culturally. Out of the Bronx comes a new subculture: hip-hop.
1970s: B-boying finds its feet
The world of b-boying takes off.
1980s: Break dance and the media
B-boying is called breakdance, the media discovers hip-hop, and rap develops its first female stars.
1990s: Clowning, krumping, beatboxing, and clothing
Hip-hop finds new areas of influence
2000s: A new era for hip-hop dance
Hip-hop dance theater storms onto stages, Korea battles its way to the top of the b-boy league, and b-boying takes on its history with conferences and workshops.
Capoeira's influence on modern day breaking is undeniable, but Ken feels it has posed a problem for breaking. Many so-called breakers today aren't dancing, but just going into a circle and doing power moves they've learned- many resembling certain moves in capoeira-with no footwork, freezes or flow, which are essential to the art (you know who you are). In Ken's experience, moves in early breaking developed without any knowledge of capoeira, although both sides pay respect where it's due to the African-rooted traditions in both forms. Capoeira survived for hundreds of years through community and innovation until Mestre Bimba, set up the first formal academy in 1927. In the same vein, breakers learned and created with what they had, drawing inspiration from their world and each other.
But the new-style Breaking was different from the old. Rock Steady added a lot of acrobatic moves. Breaking now included not only Floor Rock but Headspins, Backspins, Handglides, and Windmills. In 1981, Charles Ahearn made his Hip-Hop movie, Wild Style, a raw vision of rap singing, graffiti, scratching, and Breakdancing in the Bronx. Ahearn called on Rock Steady to do the Breaking and Rock Steady became the preeminent Breakdance crew and new-style Breaking became even more popular. When the spring of 1982 rolled around the Roxy was a well-established New York roller-skating rink. But the popularity of roller skating quickly began to fade, and in June of '82, Pat Fuji turned the Roxy into a dance club on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. The Roxy quickly became the Hip Hop center. It was here that rappers, D.J.'s, and Breakdancers would perform and hang out.
B-boying became very popular as "BREAKDANCE" by many media coverages. Because of this too much media coverage, when media stop showing b-boying on TV, people had a sense that b-boying was only a fad. Many people thought b-boying was dead. Some b-boys stopped b-boying influenced by media, also. Media mistreated b-boying.
Breaking was born when street corner DJ's (in legend it is DJ Kool Herc who was first) would take the breakdown sections (or "breaks") of dance records and string them together or loop them without any elements of the song per se. This provided a raw rhythmic base for improvising and further mixing, and it allowed dancers to display their skills during the break. Breakdancing has a variety of influences, there is no tradition in breakdancing, dancers picked elements from other dances and sports including but not limited to gymnastics, Capoeira, lindy hop, disco, etc…
Popular speculations of the early 1980s suggest that breakdancing, in its organized fashion seen today, began as a method for rival gangs of the ghetto to mediate and settle territorial disputes. In a turn-based showcase of dance routines, the winning side was determined by the dancer(s) who could outperform the other by displaying a set of more complicated and innovative moves.
My old hip-hop teacher Tom McKie used to correct us on the term "breakdancing". The term originated from these "breaks" in the songs played at block parties. The people who got on the floor and improvised were called "break-boys" and "break-girls", and these evolved into today's terms "b-boy" and "b-girl". "Breakdance" is a mainstream term for what is actually called "b-boying" or "breaking".
For most people, "breakdancing" belongs somewhere between parachute pants and Rubik's cubes, a Reagan era fad that lingers only as a punch line, if it lingers at all. From that perspective, the idea that the dance could have a serious contribution to make to the discussion of hip-hop's influence in American culture may seem laughable. But to its adherents, b-boying (its correct name) is no joke. It is a profoundly spiritual discipline, as much a martial art as a dance, as much a vehicle for self-realization as a series of movements.