B-GIRLS

Breakin', or, 'Breakdance' (in mainstream terms) is historically a male dominated culture.

After 11 years of experience, I have been fortunate enough to witness the multitude of Hip-Hop communities across the globe, and I have become acutely aware of a lack of female Breakers at home in Vancouver, Canada.

Where are the B-Girls at?

Breakdance ‘jams’ or ‘battle’ events in Vancity often suffer from B-Girl scarcity; this unbalance of yin and yang energy results in an overtly aggressive atmosphere, which often creates an unappealing vibe. Without this balance, it is no wonder our community has so much difficulty growing.

Two possibilities why:

a) Male breakers do not address this issue with themselves and each other. There is not enough of a conscious effort to include and help B-Girls thrive. (Not that B-Girls need help with their skills, See ‘CONTINUE READING)

Additionally:
i. there is a shortage of suave, savvy, B-Boys who share the dance circle with unwritten etiquette. Too many ‘shark’ the shared space, hunting for confrontations.
ii. there is an assumption that B-boys neglect personal hygiene. (Dancing for hours and sweating profusely and you don’t use deodorant? Come on, BRO.)

b) Females commonly find the dance style itself to be intimidating.

Admittedly, Breakdance, is seen as an hostile and sometimes painful style of dance, requiring extreme athletic ability and considerable upper body strength.

That is not always true.

I believe this intimidation stems from an outdated, overarching societal notion that girls are raised to be ‘soft’ and ‘delicate’ while boys are meant to be ‘tough’, and ‘aggressive.’

By comparison: what about the physical extremes of Ballet – a dance style more common (and more socially accepted) for females? A closer look reveals an exceptionally demanding practice. Although both Breaking and Ballet have completely different form and focus, they rival each other in discipline, technique, and dedication.

Truthfully, the idea of spinning on your head  might not resonate with aspiring B-Girls, but let’s break it down: the head-spin move is an icon – a Breakdance trademark – but it is only an element of what we do; it does not embody the essence of our dance.

After teaching Breakdance to kids for the last 8 years, I’ve managed to assemble an exclusively B-Girl class. After educating them about the true form – not just acrobatic tricks – they realized that this Boogie style could be satiated simply with Toprock grooves and intricate Footwork emphasized with simple, stylish freezes. In short: it was accessible, enjoyable, and real.

As a teacher, participant, and figure within this community, I strive for a future where B-Girling will always be considered a viable art form. We have come to a place where what was meant as a positive outlet for everyone has been misconstrued. Today’s conventions have created a gender divide within this culture.

It is time to shift our perspective in the way we associate gender roles with Breakin’, and allow a new one to flourish.

~SavSupreme

In my opinion, some of the best Breakers in the world are B-Girls. Check out B-Girl AT: watch her dance with explosive finesse and ease, competing (and winning) against some of the best B-Boys in the world. No headspins necessary.

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3 thoughts on “B-GIRLS

  1. I think it would be interesting to compare Hiphop to Breaking. The studio hiphop scene is definitely female heavy, so as breaking becomes bigger in studios and taught more in high school classes, the female population would grow. I guess it would be good to compare for how long hiphop has been a big focus in studios verse breaking. Maybe its just a matter of getting big underground scenes like LA (or NYC? I’m not too familiar with where breaking is the BIGGEST) more youtube/instagram fame to attract more youth, especially females. While this may be a gross generalization, guys tend to fall into breaking because it is a lot of athleticism with a taste for music and battling (competing). While there are girls who fall into breaking because those same aspects appeal to them, for other girls it may be a matter of seeing it as an art/dance, and slowmo-filtered gifs may be just that way.

    But then you have to consider it would just create two different communities, like there is with hiphop now. I guess it can be argued that females aren’t as present in the underground hiphop scene as much, and in that respect bboying and hiphop have the same problem. And are bgirls getting the full experience of the breaking culture just taking a drop in a week, learning a set without necessarily learning the moves as pieces to construct themselves. Would there be any flavour? But breaking can’t really be taught like hiphop can as choreo, so maybe that fear is unnecessary. Even if taught in studios, breaking really does end up with the idea of battling and showcasing your skills, it doesn’t necessarily have the alternate route that hiphop has with crew competitions and months of choreo practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi

    I am a bgirl of about 8-9 years, and respect Savage a lot both for his skill and the discussion he is starting on this blog. He brings up some important points about the lack of bgirls in our scene, the lack of support for bgirls and the intimidation that prevents many of us from stepping into the cypher or competition arena.

    That being said, this issue goes way deeper than just our city’s particular scene. The cypher is like a petri dish that spawns whatever bacteria is infecting hip hop culture and the world in general. The particular epidemic he is trying to name here is the basic issue of gender inequality.

    Do you wonder why it’s such a mindfuck for us to break at all? The mentality required to break is trained out of us by society from birth. Breaking requires you to own your body, own what you are saying with your body and take up space with it. To quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “we train girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller” (Beyonce sampled this is her song “Flawless” 🙂 ).

    On a personal tip, to me this basic mental training I have received as female feels like a net I am constantly trying to cast off of my body. I am not a small girl, I am naturally “jacked”. I naturally walk with a “butch” swagger. I am opinionated, aggressive and competitive. On top of that I love funk, soul and hip hop music. By any measure I feel like I am definitely suited to breaking.

    But I am still unable to own all these tendencies when I break. I see smaller, more feminine bgirls and feel intimidated than I am unable to look as “cute” or “graceful”. The society I was raised in has made me feel uncomfortable and inadequate that I am unable to fit into this “feminine” category.

    I say this not to play the victim, but to raise an important point. There are many, many girls who feel like me. Girls that wish they could step into their power but are afraid that it will make them seem “less like women”.

    The answer to me is not to make breaking less intimidating. It is to teach girls and women to own their bodies. It is to erase your preconceived notions of what new bgirls are capable of and assume that they are every bit as capable as new bboys. It is to acknowledge this huge mental block that we face as women and understand that this may be why we are shy to try certain things or get in “guys’ space” at practice. It is to acknowledge the hostility we sometimes face (yes, even from bboys and other bgirls) for acting this way.

    As women and men, we are more alike than different. It’s time to open our eyes and see each one of us as human beings first, and see who we could have been before society put us in these boxes.

    Peace

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why aren’t there more bgirls in Vancity? Even a city that’s 2 hours drive away from us like Seattle or 4hrs flight east such as Toronto and Montreal have more active bgirls then here. This has been a topic for ages. 11 years in the game with this guy here, Savage and we’ve talked and dreamed about starting an all bgirl class ( great work sav!! So proud you got that started )

    At a young age, I was blessed to have a strong, determined older sister who was a bgirl in her days introduce breaking and the whole Hip Hop culture to me. Her and along with my brother and their friends really encouraged me. Watching “It’s Like That” by Run DMC and seeing the iconic, legendary Bgirl Asia One break in that video doing some “powermoves” such as the windmill, flare and head drill. She was the first girl EVER in my life that I saw do these moves and THAT is what set me up to be where I am today.

    Back in the day Hip hop music videos really represented HIP HOP. Incorporating all the elements, Graff, rap, break and Dj. Good old “RAPCITY” on days on MTV. This is what was exposed to us, my generation and the years before, but now its all about sex, money, drugs – it’s always been there but now it’s on overdrive.

    I know there are strong, athletic confident girls out there. It’s a matter of EXPOSURE. I’ve noticed that some studios don’t even offer break classes and there are some that do but they don’t encourage girls to take them. Dance teachers who lead in schools or studios “Hip Hop” definitely need to educate themselves or educate their students more on the CULTURE and the SCENE in Vancouver and really encourage their students to be involved so they can grow and learn so much more. These teachers, especially in schools, I know they see in their “break teams” there are all boys. Teachers shouldn’t just accept it, they should encourage the girls to participate or even find out more about the bboys/bgirls in Vancouver and even bring them in to help encourage the students.

    Also, some people don’t know how to TEACH breaking. Teachers or friends who try to teach, even with hearts of gold, their teaching abilities can really frustrate or completely discourage their pupil, therefore leading to having no further interest in breaking. I’ve had opportunities to teach ballet or contemporary dancers, after breaking down basic movement and really encouraging them, It’s so awesome to see their faces light up and extremely exited to learn more knowing that they are fully able and capable to do these things. Just like ANYTHING here in the world you try to do, it all takes patience and work. Set your mind, put in the work and you will see right before you mini accomplishments and victories. Some people need to be reminded of that, especially beginners starting up breaking.

    More encouragement and exposure to the students and more qualified teachers are needed! Actually, we have some really great teachers here, studios, and schools need to hire the right people or lead students to them.

    Liked by 1 person

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