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I believe this intimidation stems from an outdated, overarching societal notion that girls are raised to be ‘soft’ and ‘delicate’ while boys are meant to be ‘tough’, and ‘aggressive.’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