FASTER, STRONGER, HIGHER. The traditional Olympic slogan can now be added to the latest thread of values: younger, more modern, more contemporary, more gender-neutral.
The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to develop and diversify and welcome non-traditional sports will see surfers, skateboarders and climbers vying for medals in Tokyo this summer.
Breakdancing will also enter the game in 2024, or splitting, as it is more popularly called, as the hip-hop-inspired phenomenon is performed for the first time as an Olympic discipline, not in one of the several sports stadiums in Paris, but in a downtown location alongside three-on-three basketball.
Not unexpectedly, the move did not meet with universal consent. Those from mainstream sports such as squash, who continue to slam the Olympic door in their faces, see it as a “travesty,” although there is debate even within the breaking group as to whether or not this should be seen as a welcome advancement.
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However, for advocates, the hope is that achieving the kind of global platform offered by the Olympics would help reignite interest in a sport that has recently declined, particularly in the United Kingdom.
Chris “You can see the Olympics trying to become more modern and appeal to a new audience, and that makes sense,” Maule, a veteran of the Scottish scene for more than 20 years, most notably as part of the Flyin’ Jalapenos crew, says, “Sideshow”
Originally from East Kilbride, Maule performed at the handover ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, T in the Park, the MTV Europe Music Awards and several other high-profile events. The 39-year-old DJ, now living in Düsseldorf, Germany, still teaches breakdancing to local schoolchildren and, even if not everyone agrees, sees its inclusion in the Olympics as a positive move.
“The decision has divided the break scene. Some think it will be brilliant for our scene and others think it’s terrible, arguing that breaking is a dance and not a sport,” he said.
But it’s fantastic news, I think. It’s one of the world’s most physically challenging art forms, and the Olympics are about bringing nations together to see who in any discipline is the best.
Certainly, it’s a dance and that makes it subjective. It’s a dance for sure, and that makes it subjective. Perhaps the toughest part is how you judge it, so you might look at various aspects – how well they dance to the music, how challenging the steps are, how original they are, how cleanly they perform and move and how they connect with the opponent. And the competitive aspect that the Olympics are all about is certainly there.
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While some are upset that breakdancing occurs alongside track and field, swimming, weightlifting and the rest, Maule reveals that those who practice at the elite level train just as hard as any other athlete.
Actually, it’s really physically taxing,” he adds. “Like I tell the children I teach, you use everything from your head to your toes when you break up. So the entire body is a huge pressure.
“The top dancers train like athletes. Some of them do it as full-time professionals, and they’re all absolutely through-trained. They have incredible endurance. Whereas before we just practiced to make sure we could perform, the younger generation is working really hard in the gym. I would say they are as fit as any runner or swimmer.”
At the Summer Youth Games 2018 in Buenos Aires, where the dance battles proved to be very successful, Breaking was. The IOC has now agreed, spurred by this achievement, to include it in the big Olympics.
In Argentina, everybody wanted to see The Breaking,”Everyone wanted to see the Breaking in Argentina,” “It was amazingly well organized and the level of kids performing was insane. The feeling afterwards was that there was no way to say no for Paris.”
Lobbying for breakdancing’s inclusion in these activities, however, came from an unexpected source. The World Dance Sport Federation (WDSF), the international governing body for amateur dance sports, campaigned hardest for the inclusion of breakdancing in