B-boy Phil Wizard from Canada poses for a portrait prior to the Red Bull BC One World Final in New York, USA on November 8th, 2022. Photographer Credit: Little Shao / Red Bull Content Pool
‘Pushing Progression: Breaking’ Chronicles the Journey From the Bronx Streets to Paris Lights.
One year before Breaking makes its debut at the biggest sporting event in the world, Busta Rhymes is joined by some of the best b-girls and b-boys to dissect the progression of Breaking. A new documentary on Red Bull TV, Pushing Progression: Breaking unpacks how Breaking went from the Bronx to the world stage. Here’s all you need to know:
– Breaking, also known as breakdancing, originated in the Bronx in the late sixties. This vibrant and high-energy street dance was the offspring of the hip-hop scene and started as a form of self-expression amongst young African American and Puerto Rican communities. Its cradle was the Bronx River Project, where breathtaking battles and electrifying parties became the norm. As legendary B-Boy Alien Ness recalls, “It wasn’t about the money. It wasn’t about the contest. It was about ghetto celebrity status. You wanted to be the best on your block.”
– Breaking thrived for a decade before making a bold leap into mainstream culture in the early eighties, aided by TV appearances and a slew of Hollywood dance movies. Its global debut happened in Los Angeles in 1984 when 200 breakers performed at the opening ceremony of a major sporting event alongside Lionel Richie. This televised spectacle propelled Breaking onto the global stage.
– Throughout the nineties, breaking further developed its own culture and competition scene. Crew battles at local competitions became the norm, providing breakers with a platform to showcase their skills and creativity. B-boy Phil Wizard revealed, “Breaking for me first and foremost as a culture, a dance, and an art form. Now they’re calling it a sport.”
– The progression of Breaking took a significant turn in 2004 when Switzerland hosted the inaugural Red Bull BC One World Final. The competition was the first of its kind, a one-to-one battle featuring 16 b-boys. Phil Wizard, a Red Bull BC One All-Star from Canada, reminisced, “It was the first big one-on-one [breaking event] to ever come to the scene.”
– Since then, Red Bull BC One has evolved into the largest one-to-one breaking battle, hosted annually in a different major city worldwide. Thousands of b-boys and b-girls compete for the prestigious title of World Champion. The event has also served as a platform for promoting gender equality within the breaking scene, with B-Girl Ayumi being the first female ever to compete in the Red Bull BC One World Finals, an event which B-Girl Ami called a “dope moment”.
– In the past, opportunities for b-girls to compete were limited. However, the participation of b-girls like Ayumi in high-profile events like the Red Bull BC One World Finals marked a turning point. As b-girl champion Logistix notes, “Before, we didn’t have that kind of platform. It was very rare to see big girls compete at that calibre.”
– Ami, a fellow b-girl, reflected, “Because Ayumi is standing on that stage, it makes me feel like I want to stand on the world final stage one day in the future.” The visibility of women on such platforms challenged the status quo and inspired more b-girls to take their skills to new heights.
– Today, the breaking scene boasts a strong contingent of formidable b-girls, with competitiveness growing at an unprecedented pace. Yet, despite the fierce competition, there remains a shared hope for unity and camaraderie within the breaking community. The story of women in Breaking is a tale of overcoming barriers and stereotypes, reshaping the culture of the dance form, and inspiring a new generation of women to step onto the dance floor.
– Reflecting on the evolution and future of Breaking, B-Boy Phil Wizard said: “We’re in new territory with Breaking that we’ve never been before.” Breaking is now poised to make its debut at the biggest sporting event in the world. This monumental moment for breaking has garnered more attention, paving the way for talented breakers to professionalize their passion.
– Despite the significant strides Breaking has made, its heart remains rooted in its community. The journey from the streets of the Bronx to the world stage and now to the world’s biggest sporting arena is a testament to the resilience and the unyielding spirit of the breaking community. As Busta Rhymes put it, “We took the pain and made champagne out of it. We took the struggle and turned it into something that was profitable.” He further added, “As long as we are in control of it, there is no limit to the progression of hip-hop culture.”
Discover the storied history of breaking on Pushing Progression: Breaking on Red Bull TV from August 8.