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Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

 

The majority of us know it as “breakdancing,” but any real b-boy or b-girl will politely school you on the fact that it’s actually just BREAKING.

Decades since it first started in The Bronx as one of the founding elements of hip-hop, right next to DJing, graffiti and emceeing itself, breaking has given those still intertwined in the culture a way to physically express the everlasting love they possess for hip-hop. Ever since those pioneering days in the early 1970s, breaking culture has grown from an art form exclusive to the streets of NYC into a global phenomenon that attracts dancers and athletes from every country you can imagine — Australia, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, India, Mexico….the list goes on!

We got a chance to see just how global breaking culture has become after spending a full week of tagging along for the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final competition. Usually held in a foreign country to show the worldwide appeal of BC One, Red Bull opted for a full-circle moment this time around by bringing it back to NYC to put a focus back on where it all began.

What resulted was an unforgettable experience that proved breaking culture is far from dead, especially now that it’s become an official category in the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games.

However, before we get into how the art of breaking is pushing forward, let’s take a quick look back at its origins.

 

 

RELATED: OK Auntie! Maxine Waters Helped Make November National Hip Hop Month Happen

Where breaking started and by who are constantly debated, but some trace it back all the way to the days of Thomas Edison in 1898 when he reportedly recorded an Arabian street dancer performing acrobatic headspins. The energetic signature dance moves by soul legend James Brown (1933 –2006) have also been credited as being one of the source inspirations for breaking. Nonetheless, breaking as we know it began in the ’70s under the term “b-boying” before media caught on and began referring to it as “breakdancing” due to the toprock, downrock, power moves and freezes associated with breakbeat music. In recent times, many b-boys and b-girls have banded together to highlight those origins by rebranding the art form under its original name.

This is where Red Bull BC One comes into play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Bull is one of the premiere corporations in the breaking space, hosting for the past two decades a World Final breaking competition that sheds light on the most talented male and female dancers across the globe. To make this year’s competition even more special, a series of events were put in place to welcome international press into NYC while also bringing some of the pioneers on board to speak on such a rich history.

Things kicked off earlier in the week with a Hip-Hop Bus Tour hosted by rap icon Grandmaster Caz, which spanned from the building where hip-hop began by way of DJ Kool Herc’s August 1973 party at 1520 Sedgwick Ave — Caz even snuck us inside the actual rec room where the original party happened! — all the way to The Bronx Walk of Fame where The Cold Crush Brothers native has a commemorative plaque on Grand Concourse. It all concluded at the Universal Hip Hop Museum, which is still in development but has an amazing exhibit on display while the official building is still being constructed.

Caz spoke on breaking culture’s development by stating, “people thought [breaking] was crazy, or didn’t understand the value of the dance, but where it is today is a testament to how true the dance was back then and how it’s transcended every generation to this day.” He went on to expertly add, “Out of all the elements involved in the culture of hip-hop, dance is the most consistent, constant and doesn’t depend on a corporation to make it happen or keep it viable. It’s up to itself.”

hip-hop-history-month-breaking-rakim-red-bull-bc-one-nyc

Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

hip-hop-history-month-breaking-rakim-red-bull-bc-one-nyc

Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

hip-hop-history-month-breaking-rakim-red-bull-bc-one-nyc

Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

Later in the day, an event known as the Last Chance Cypher was hosted in the Lower East Side of NYC at the Bowery Street venue CAPITALE. Dancers in this particular heat were those who didn’t make it as finalists in the World Final, with this acting as a “second chance” to get on the main bill. To add some perspective, a handful of breakers who’ve won this competition in the past have even gone on to win the World Final overall.

In addition to seeing dancers and supporters of all ages at events like this, one thing that’s always present during breaking competitions is the camaraderie amongst what is clearly a close-knit community where many people know each other rather well.

Moe Black of W.A.F.F.L.E. NYC, a respected dance crew that opened the World Finals ceremony with a stellar performance, broke down the friendly nature within breaking culture by telling us, “Everybody that comes to visit from around the world always understands how important New York City and breaking mean when put together; they know [the importance of] paying homage here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

hip-hop-history-month-breaking-rakim-red-bull-bc-one-nyc

Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

The dancers, from veterans and active BC One competitors to those who didn’t win the Last Chance Cypher but still wanted to show up for support, were truly the heart of the experience in its entirety. Their athleticism, drive, energy and gravity-defying dance moves are collectively nothing short of legendary. B-girl Sunny Choi, a veteran who is a shining example for female breakers, says of being an inspiration to women, “So many people are going to tell you how you need to act, who you need to be and what you need to do, but I’m telling you this: find yourself! Do what makes you happy — don’t worry about anyone else.”

Her fellow competitor Logistx, born Logan Edra and also representing for USA and women, had similar sentiments to add, telling us, “We deserve to be understood because we are unlike anything stepping into the Olympics [in 2024],” also adding, “we’re not just a sport.” She thinks it also should be viewed as an art form and skilled dance, in addition to many other things that breakers can define for themselves. “With any type of chapter in evolution, there’s some form of compromise and adapting as well as activism and advocacy,” says last year’s Word Final B-Girl champion, who followed up with some wise words for her 19 years of age by stating, “My most powerful way to do it for myself and hip-hop is be a full-on competitor and be authentically myself in these spaces.”

Those feelings resonate heavily from the perspective of their b-boy counterparts too. BC One all star and capoeira expert Neguin told us, “Hip-hop being born in this particular place we call New York City is one thing, but we have to remember that everything starts with Africa — from the diaspora! Hip-hop is global, and there are so many cultures with the same approach [of respect] that speak to unity and having fun, such as capoeira in Brazil where I’m from. It amazing to see this art form created in NYC all over the world now and saving lives.”

Prince Wayne, a burgeoning b-boy based out of Houston, gave us an interesting perspective on the craft by stating, “It’s very inspiring for me as a dancer to see many other dancers do this on a global scale. It’s like, ‘Ok! If you can do it, then I can do it as well.’ It’s a beautiful experience overall.” 17-year-old Netherlands competitor Lorenzo gave us the perspective from someone representing the culture for Gen Z, telling us, “Looking into the future, I’m just going to develop myself and work on my stuff, but also try to be happy with my own dance.”

Finalist Lee, also from the Netherlands and who many people felt was robbed of winning this year against USA’s Victor, stood out both for his impeccable skills and notably being the sole competitor representing for the Black community. “For me this is a special moment,” he told us in-between practice sessions, going on to add, “I wasn’t born when breaking was created, so I feel blessed to be in the origins to represent. The most important thing is that breaking will forever be a dance and an art form. That’s something we should hold on to, even as it becomes an Olympic sport.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

 

 

 

 

 

hip-hop-history-month-breaking-rakim-red-bull-bc-one-nyc

Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

 

 

 

 

Helping to center in on the lyrical element of BC One, hip-hop pioneer Rakim graced the stage for an epic performance that really brought the message full circle. The legendary Paid In Full emcee, much like breaking itself, stood as a testament that hip-hop and its elements will always be ever-present in some way, shape or form. Solo work and hits from his days alongside Eric B. alike received love on the stage, making him the perfect emcee to make sure all four elements were present.

In terms of graffiti, well, that’s just everywhere throughout the Big Apple!

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Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

hip-hop-history-month-breaking-rakim-red-bull-bc-one-nyc

Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

hip-hop-history-month-breaking-rakim-red-bull-bc-one-nyc

Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

The night commenced with Florida native Victor being crowned the champion for B-Boys — let’s go, Team USA! — and Netherlands wunderkind B-Girl India taking home the trophy for the ladies in a close battle against the aforementioned Logistx. Attendees were also treated to an amazing closing performance by none other than famed dance crew Jabbawockeez.

It goes without saying, but all eyes were on them the entire time during their epic presentation of acrobatics, swagger and immense style.

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Source: Keenan “HIGz” Higgins / REACH Media

 

 

 

 

 

We leave you all with a video that really breaks down the origins of breaking culture for those who were intrigued enough by this special Hip-Hop History Month feature.

….and the (break)beat goes on!

 

Keep scrolling for a look at more photos from inside the Red Bull BC One 2022 Word Final breaking competition weekend:

Hip Hop History Month: The Culture Of Breaking And How Red Bull & Rakim Helped Bring It Back To NYC  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

1. Hip-Hop pioneer Grandmaster Caz gives a hip-hop tour of The Bronx for special guests of Red Bull BC One 2022

Hip-Hop pioneer Grandmaster Caz gives a hip-hop tour of The Bronx for special guests of Red Bull BC One 2022 Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Grand Concourse,
The Bronx – New York, NY
Nov. 10, 2022

2. Red Bull BC One 2022 Last Chance Cypher

Red Bull BC One 2022 Last Chance Cypher Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

CAPITALE NYC,
Lower East Side – New York, NY
Nov. 10, 2022

3. Last Chance Cypher B-Girl Winner Alessandra Chillemi

Last Chance Cypher B-Girl Winner Alessandra Chillemi Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

CAPITALE NYC,
Lower East Side – New York, NY
Nov. 10, 2022

4. Red Bull BC One 2022 Last Chance Cypher

Red Bull BC One 2022 Last Chance Cypher Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

CAPITALE NYC,
Lower East Side – New York, NY
Nov. 10, 2022

5. Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

6. Fans rooting for their favorite breakers at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

Fans rooting for their favorite breakers at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

7. Red Bull athlete Phil Wizard practicing backstage at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

Red Bull athlete Phil Wizard practicing backstage at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

8. DJ Skeme Richards holding down the turntable at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

DJ Skeme Richards holding down the turntable at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

9. Fans anticipate the verdict from Red Bull BC One 2022 hosts Kid Glyde, Jey, Ayumi, Sick and Fabgirl

Fans anticipate the verdict from Red Bull BC One 2022 hosts Kid Glyde, Jey, Ayumi, Sick and Fabgirl Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

10. B-Girls Luma (Colombia) and India (Netherlands) battle it out

B-Girls Luma (Colombia) and India (Netherlands) battle it out Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

11. Rap legend Rakim hits the stage at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

Rap legend Rakim hits the stage at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

12. B-boy finalist Lee (Netherlands) does some practicing backstage before hitting the big stage

B-boy finalist Lee (Netherlands) does some practicing backstage before hitting the big stage Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

13. A B-girl practice session at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

A B-girl practice session at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

14. Iconic dance crew Jabbawockeez perform at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

Iconic dance crew Jabbawockeez perform at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

15. Jabbawockeez at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final

Jabbawockeez at the Red Bull BC One 2022 World Final Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

16. Red Bull BC One 2022 B-Girl Winner, India (Netherlands)

Red Bull BC One 2022 B-Girl Winner, India (Netherlands) Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

17. Red Bull BC One 2022 B-Boy Winner, Victor (USA)

Red Bull BC One 2022 B-Boy Winner, Victor (USA) Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

Hammerstein Ballroom at The Manhattan Center,
Midtown – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

18. Celebrating an unforgettable night at the afterparty for Red Bull BC One 2022

Celebrating an unforgettable night at the afterparty for Red Bull BC One 2022 Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

CAPITALE NYC,
Lower East Side – New York, NY
Nov. 12, 2022

19. …until next year!

...until next year! Source:Keenan "HIGz" Higgins / REACH Media

CAPITALE NYC,
Lower East Side – New York, NY
Nov. 13, 2022

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