• Mar. May 21st, 2024

-> Noticias de futbol internacional

Breaking at the Olympic Qualifier Series: Everything you need to know

#Breaking #Olympic #Qualifier #Series

In breaking, art meets athleticism: In the newest Olympic sport, athletes need to be able to flip, spin, and balance like gymnasts, but make it all groove along to the music. And they don’t even get to choose the music! Instead, a DJ plays music of their choosing, and the athletes need to fit their best tricks to the soundtrack.

“Everything is spontaneous. The DJ sets the mood, and the dancers have to react to it,” says Zack “Cracker Zacks” Slusser, Vice President of Breaking DanceSport for USA Dance. “That is probably the most crucial thing when it comes to judging—how much a dancer can resonate their arsenal of moves with the music and how the music is being played in that moment, and creating a moment that captures everybody.”

Those judges are also pitting the breaking athletes not against a leaderboard, but against each other: Unlike other judged sports, breakers face off in one-on-one battles to see who’s best.

The spontaneity, athleticism, and artistry add up to a competition that’s completely unique, and uniquely thrilling to watch. At Paris 2024 and at the Olympic Qualifier Series—to be held in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, in May, and in Budapest, Hungary, in June—fans will get their first chance to watch this competition on an Olympic stage. Here, Slusser and Team USA athletes Jeffrey “Jeffro” Louis and Logan “Logistx” Edra tell you everything you need to know about breaking.

  • How to qualify for breaking at Paris 2024
  • These b-boys and b-girls will compete in breaking at the Olympic Qualifier Series

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What is breaking?

Breaking is a style of dance that developed in New York in the 1970s. Danced to percussion-heavy beats of funk and hip hop, it’s known for acrobatic spins, flips, and kicks. Breaking was one of the original four disciplines of hip hop, along with DJing, graffiti, and MCing—rapping.

Competitors aren’t usually called “dancers,” or even “breakdancers.” They’re called “b-boys” or “b-girls”, and are often referred to by their b-boy or b-girl names: Edra, who was the youngest ever winner of the BC One World Final b-girl division, is called Logistx, for example.

Even though breaking was invented 40 to 50 years ago, that’s a relatively short time for a dance to exist, Edra says. Unlike ballet, which was danced in the court of French king Louis XIV in the late 1600s, breaking has only had a few decades to develop its steps, rules, and traditions.

“It’s still evolving … we’re still deciding what breaking is, because it was just established as a dance style in the ‘70s,” she says. “The dance is still so new. Even my generation is still helping us learn these things.”

Over the past few decades, the rules of breaking have begun to be established, and it’s become a full-fledged sport, combining the athleticism needed to perform acrobatic moves with the artistry to make those kicks, flips, and spins work with the music. One of the first international competitions, the Battle of the Year, was held in 1990.

But just like the dance style, the criteria for judging breaking competitions continues to evolve. For the 2024 Games—the first appearance in the Olympics for breaking—b-boys and b-girls will be judged on five criteria: Technique, vocabulary, execution, musicality, and originality.

How long has breaking been an Olympic sport?

Breaking will make its Olympic debut at Paris 2024. The sport debuted at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018. And before breakers head to Paris, many will first compete at the Olympic Qualifier Series. At two events—one in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, in May, and another in Budapest, Hungary, in June—80 breaking athletes will compete for 14 quota spots in the Paris Games.

What moves do breakers do?

You don’t need to know the name of every move to understand and enjoy breaking—there’s a dizzying number of them, and breakers come up with new moves all the time, adding to the dance form’s growing vocabulary.

But all the moves break down into three main elements: Top rock, down rock, and freezes.

Top Rock

Top rock refers to moves that breakers do while standing. Most breaking rounds start in top rock, because in breaking’s roots, this posture was used as a way to tell other dancers to get out of the way.

In breaking competitions, top rock is an area where breakers establish their personality and charisma, Louis says.

“It’s a feeling. You can tell if someone is genuine about their dancing,” he says. Even for viewers who aren’t famililar with breaking, “That’s one thing you can see off the bat. Looking at top rock, you can see, ‘oh, this person is a great dancer.’ You can’t fake it.”

What you can’t see, Edra says, is that breakers performing top rock are being judged on their technique. When they perform top rock moves like a Crossover Step or an Outlaw Two-Step, judges are scoring the breakers’ form and execution, as well as how their moves match the music.

Down Rock

If you’ve seen breaking in a movie or music video, it was probably down rock: This is the part of breaking that’s performed on the floor, with breakers’ hands, arms, backs, shoulders, or even heads holding their bodies in the air. Whether they’re on their back or front, spinning on their hands or their heads, breakers on the ground are performing down rock. Within this part of breaking, there are different types of moves:

  • Drops and Transitions: These are the moves that breakers use to get down to the floor from their top rock, or get back into top rock after a series of down rock moves. These, Slusser says, are as important as the big, signature power moves that make up the meat of a one-minute round.

    “It goes into your originality or your style as a dancer. Your get-down, or how you get down to the floor—is it generic? Or is it something sharp or fresh that you haven’t seen before?” he says. Transitioning back and forth between down and up rock through these moves is called “dynamics,” and is fundamental to great breaking.

  • Footwork: Breakers on the floor will often prop themselves on their hands and perform series of kicks, sweeps, and steps. These aren’t random, though: There are forms, like the six-step, that are established steps in breaking.

    While these sections of break battles may be incomprehensible to new viewers, this is a spot where judges are looking at technique, Louis says. Unless they’re sweeping their leg around, for example, the side of the breaker’s foot shouldn’t touch the ground he says.

  • Power Moves and Spins: Breakers will spin on their heads, hands, elbows, shoulders, and more. Power moves also spin, but involve more gymnastic-like motions propelled by centrifugal force. In these moves, breakers will often use their hands to spin their legs to whirl around their bodies. One famous power move is the air flare, which is very similar to the “flare” move performed by gymnasts on a pommel horse. In this move, breakers balance on one hand, then the other, as they spin their legs around through the air, passing them under their hands.

Freezes

In a freeze, the breaker performs a total stop—usually in a difficult-to-hold, acrobatic position, like balancing on one hand, or a “hollow-back freeze,” a move where the breaker balances on their head with an arched back so that their feet hang over the head, almost touching the ground. Freezes are often used as a punctuation after a flurry of fast, powerful movements.

Performing a variety of moves from all three categories is key to winning breaking battles, Slusser says. This, he says, shows a breaker’s “vocabulary”, one of the judging criteria for breaking.

How does the Olympic breaking competition work?

Two things make breaking different from other judged sports in Olympic competition: First, breakers compete head to head in a tournament style, instead of being scored on a leaderboard.

At the Olympic Games (rules here), b-boys and b-girls compete in separate competitions. Each group has 16 dancers, divided into four groups of four breakers each. The groups first participate in a round robin format, where all breakers battle the other breakers in their group. The two breakers who do best in each group move on to the knock-out quarter-final phase.

These eight breakers are seeded into a bracket: The breaker ranked eighth battles the number one-ranked breaker; number seven goes against number two, and so on. The loser of each round of the bracket is knocked out, with the winner moving on. This continues through the semi-finals and finals.

Within both the round robin and knock-out phases, each head-to-head matchup is called a battle. Battles consist of three rounds, also called “throw downs”. One breaker goes first in the battle, performing for up to one minute. Then the other breaker “responds”, immediately performing their own one-minute round.

This process is repeated for three throw downs, with one breaker being declared the winner of each throw down. The winner is determined by a panel of judges, who rate each throw down according to five criteria.

The margin of victory in each round doesn’t matter, Slusser says. Instead, it’s just about winning two out of three (or three out of five) rounds. This is similar to winning a tennis match: It doesn’t matter if you win the first set 6-1 or 6-4 … you’ve won the set.

The second aspect of breaking that unique is the music: Unlike in other sports with musical accompaniment like the gymnastics floor exercise or figure skating, the athletes don’t control the music. A DJ chooses and plays the music, setting the tone for the battle, as well as the beats and pace the breakers must dance to.

How breaking is judged and scored

An odd-numbered panel of judges score each round and each battle, and judge breakers’ performance based on five criteria:

  • Technique: Certain moves have certain criteria, such as keeping feet flexed versus toes pointed on many moves, Edra says. But technique also includes the judges’ view of how athletic the breakers are, and how well they control their bodies.
  • Vocabulary: Breakers must perform a variety of moves in multiple positions—both in down rock and top rock—to score well here.
  • Execution: While this may sound similar to technique, the World DanceSport Federation rule book says that on execution, breakers are judged on how cleanly their moves are performed—that is, they don’t mess up—and how distinct one more is from the next. The moves should flow together, but not blend together.
  • Musicality: Here, breakers are judged on their ability to not just perform incredible moves, but to dance—staying on beat, and timing their moves to the music.
  • Originality: Louis believes this is the most important criteria. “Having that personal style is what sets people apart,” he says. “I could learn every move out there, but it’s about what can I bring to the table? What can I add to breaking?”

Instead of assigning a number to each of these criteria, judges use a digital slider, sliding towards the breaker who is winning the head to head matchup in that category. So if Breaker A is performing with better technique than Breaker B, judges will slide the slider towards their side—either a little bit, or all the way.

Each of the five categories accounts for 20 percent of the final score. Based on the balance of the sliders in these five criteria, one breaker is declared the winner of each round.

What makes a winning round of a battle?

Breakers have up to one minute to make an impression on the judges during each round of a battle. But that doesn’t mean they perform only their biggest moves without regard for the music, Slusser says.

“There’s a term in breaking called the ‘dramaturgical arc’. You should be building, building, building, and then hit your peak,” he says, punctuating the round with a climax that gets the crowd to roar.

Louis likens this to telling a story.

“You don’t want to just start off with the bangers, the explosive, exciting things, because then the energy of your round goes down—you can’t maintain that energy,” he says. “So I like to tell a story within my rounds, where there’s a buildup, and then an ending.”

That ending, he says, is the last 30-40 percent of the round, where the excitement of the crowd has built, and explodes at the dance’s climax, punctuated by difficult or unique moves.

Ultimately, though, winning the round is about being “better” than the other breaker in the eyes of the judges. When a breaker goes first in the round, they can set the tone with this kind of story, forcing the other breaker to respond. The current world champion, American Victor Montalvo, likes to go first for this reason, Slusser says.

“He’s so technical. He goes out an hits all the boxes as if to say, ‘how are you going to respond to that?” Slusser says of Montalvo. “It’s a matter of him stressing his superiority in a lot of different fields that maybe you’re not exceptional at.”

When breakers are in the position of responding, Louis says, they’re analysing the moves the other breaker does, and thinking of what they know how to do that tops each move.

“I’m going to try to one-up that person. I’m going to respond and do my variation of their move, but one that’s harder,” he says. So if the first breaker spun on their hand with their palm on the ground, the responding breaker may spin on the back of their hand, a more difficult variation.

But topping the other breaker in battle sometimes comes back to storytelling, Edra says.

“Breaking is a dance, so it’s extremely stylistic, and it’s about who can be the best version of themselves,” she says. “There are just so many ways to win a battle. If one person is known for big power moves, and the other is known for storytelling, both of them can be at their highest level, and the one that takes the storytelling route may take that round” despite not having the “biggest” moves.

B-boys and B-girls to watch

  • Victor Montalvo (B-Boy Victor), USA: Montalvo, Slusser says, is the “Michael Jordan of breaking.” The Floridian was the first American to qualify for the Olympics, and is a multiple-time world champion. That, Slusser says, is because he’s good at … everything. His moves are technical, exciting, and put together in an almost impossible to match flow.
  • Danis Civil (B-Boy Dany Dann), France: Louis loves to watch Civil because the French dancer is spontaneous. “We have almost the same philosophy about battling, where we’re going off the music and reacting to each other,” Louis says. “You never know what’s going to happen, so he’s a great dancer to watch.”
  • Liu Qingyi (B-Girl 671), China: Slusser says that this teenager’s moves are incredible, and so are her results: 671 topped world champion breaker Ami in a head to head battle at the Breaking for Gold World Series in 2023.
  • Kateryna Pavlenko (B-Girl Kate), Ukraine: Edra says that she enjoys watching Kate’s intricate footwork, but also the way she builds her dances. “She knows how to build her moves through creativity rather than just thinking about difficulty level,” Edra says. “She has form, fundamentals, foundation.”

When can I watch breaking in the Paris 2024 Olympics?

Breaking battles will take place on 9 and 10 August. The competition will feature 16 b-boys and 16 b-girls.

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