break dancing by Mos Neammanee July 30, 2021
Red Bull BC One kicked off on July 24th in the birthplace of hip-hop and breakdancing, NYC. Red Bull BC One is the world’s largest breaking competition, where all the top b-boys and b-girls bless the floor at 350 Grand Street’s rooftop in a one-on-one competition. It is a celebration of breaking to compete for the top spot to become a champion.
The largest breaking competition in the world was hosted by Nemesis and B-girl Trinity. The competition was organized into two separate brackets, judged by Kid Glyde, Red Bull BC One All-Star Neguin, and the 2020 Red Bull BC One World Final contestant, B-girl Sunny.
This was more than a competition for the breakers, this was a celebration of a way of life and art that crossed borders and identity. From an audience perspective, the breakers use dance as an expression and language to communicate with judges, the crowd, and opponents.
Breaking itself is a culture and to be in a cypher is a rite of passage. For it to be in the largest breaking competition in the world is another honor in and of itself.
“For me, the cypher is where people introducing themselves and style without any words, a lot is happening out there, I love cyphering,” said Beket Azimbaev, a 27-year-old b-boy who started breaking at 15.
The first half of the world’s largest breaking competition was for the b-girls and the second half was for the b-boys. These highly skilled breakers faced off against one another separately and a panel of three judges determined who moved on. Their performances were critically judged based on, but not limited to, creativity, attitude, and style.
The largest breaking competition yet was fierce as each breaker battled it out in the cypher, holding nothing back. The innovation and creativity gave the rooftop intense energy. Each battle consisted of taunts, spins, and quick leg work. When the battle was over the floor was left with nothing but sweat and streaks.
b-boy, Frankie Perez, and b-girl, Marta proved their skill on the floor and were championed the winners of the Red Bull BC One New York Cypher and will move on to the U.S. Red Bull BC One National Finals.
The Red Bull BC-One embodies the complex and rich culture of breaking in NY and beyond. There are so many fine details and traits that are taken into consideration for NY Breakers before they enter the cypher.
The winners of the Red Bull BC-One b-boy Frankie Perez and b-girl Marta talked to us about their beginnings and the freedom of breaking culture in an interview.
KultureHub: What’s the relation between NY and breaking?
Frankie: NY is not only where breaking started but also Hip Hop Culture as a whole. With respect to breaking specifically, a lot of pioneers are from here like Kid Freeze, Float, Ken Swift etc. Dancers like these have influenced countless others around the world so the reverberations of that make NYC a mecca of sorts for dancers in general.
Marta: Breaking was born in the Bronx, NY. I believe the essence of NY will always be found within the movement of Breaking no matter where you are in the world.
KultureHub: How did you start?
Frankie: A neighbor of mine showed me and all my cousins at the same time while together in my grandma’s house. The rest has an almost 20-year journey to where I am now.
Marta: As a teenager, I came to the street festival with different urban cultures involved to have fun, and Breaking Jam caught my friend’s attention so I joined the company. Right away these guys were something different: they looked differently, danced differently, their performance was on top.
The crew name was Illusion of Exist. Me and my girlfriends found out where they teach and decided to go learn some Breaking. Only I came to the first practice, so here I am. Fell in love with breaking immediately, got into the crew Illusion of Exist a year after, and still in it. My biggest inspiration.
KultureHub: How long did it take for you to get to this point? What was the journey like?
Frankie: About 20 years. There were a lot of ups and downs. I went from an enthusiastic amateur in the scene to really honing my craft and then putting it to the test citywide, nationally, and then competing in international competitions. The process has taught me a lot of things I still find valuable today like how consistency is a big part of success as well as doing things that make you scared so as to expand as a person and dancer.
Marta: I dance for soon to be 15 years. The journey had its ups and downs. You are growing, and your dance is growing with you. You love, search, feel, cry, and hate on the road, and I think this makes Breaking beautiful – each person has it’s own story here. I lived in several places during my breaking career, and each place gave me something.
New York, for sure added its flavor to my style, and I’m very happy where I’m at.Marta
KultureHub: What’s your influence when you’re breaking?
Frankie: I’m influenced by my crew Supreme Beingz as well as those who came before me like the b-boys I mentioned. I’m also inspired by a few b-boys who are still competing as well.
Marta: My biggest influence in breaking is my crew Illusion of Exist, who inspired me to start dancing.
KultureHub: How does watching other breakers affect how you break?
Frankie: It can be anywhere from motivating to stagnating to informative depending on how much I’m balancing it while taking care of other areas in my life and using myself as a standard for comparison.
Marta: It’s always a pleasure watching other dancers get down because it is nice to see a different approach to the same art form.
KultureHub: What does it mean to be a b-girl/boy?
Frankie: Traditionally speaking, it’s when you’re connecting to music while incorporating foundational elements of the dance-like footwork, power moves, toprock, and freezes. But for me it someone is really a b-boy/b-girl when they’re contributing something original to the craft.
Marta: Being a b-girl/boy is fun. I’m 31 but I’m a kid when I’m dancing. I guess it stays with you forever.
KultureHub: From a fashion perspective, it seems like everyone has their own style. How does what you wear come into play when you compete?
Frankie: Yes, in our scene fashion can also have a very practical perspective too. For example track jackets made of a certain material can help you spin or slide on the floor better while someone who wears loose sneakers might be doing so because it’s easier to remove his shoe if its part of the move he’s trying to do. For the most part, b-boys/b-girls try to dress comfortably for what we’re doing while looking as fresh as we can.
Marta: Oh, this is a whole gamechanger here. First of all, you need to be 100 percent comfortable in what you are wearing – nothing can bother you while you’re making your moves. Second of all, you need to be confident – there’s no other feeling like when you’re hyped about your outfit, you feel it, people around you see it.
KultureHub: What does breaking mean to you? How has this art changed your life?
Frankie: It’s self-expression as well as therapy. It’s changed the trajectory of my life in many ways by introducing me to work ethic. I also met my wife and ultimately had my son because of breaking, and my career as a photographer/filmmaker is rooted in my background as a b-boy.
Marta: For me, breaking is a place where I’m free. Free of worries, problems. I am truly happy when I’m dancing. I grew up as a person, an artist with the help of breaking, it made me stronger, it gave me lots of wonderful friends all around the world.
The Red Bull BC One competition moves on from NYC, continuing with regional qualifiers taking place in Los Angeles, Boston, and Houston.
The winners of these regional qualifiers will move onto compete in Red Bull BC One National Finals taking place in Orlando for a chance to compete at Red Bull BC One World Finals taking place in Gdańsk, Poland, on November 5 to 6.
The largest breaking competition the globe has ever known continues. But for a recap of the events up to date, the Red Bull BC One Cypher can be watched in its entirety below: