Joel Keitsu Sorenson, founder of hip hop studio All the Way Up in North Liberty, strikes a freeze, a movement where the body halts in a balance-intensive or interesting position. (Lauren De Young)
Joel Keitsu Sorenson, founder of hip hop studio All the Way Up in North Liberty, strikes a freeze, a movement where the body halts in a balance-intensive or interesting position.

Lauren De Young

Breakdancing to be Added to the 2024 Paris Olympics

Breakdancing is a unique sport, slowly gaining enough recognition to be competed in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.

September 25, 2019

The summer Olympics is an every-four-year, worldwide event that many athletes strive to be in. Starting in 1896, the Olympics have changed drastically over the years. Sports like baseball, softball, cricket, and tug of war have been in and out of the Olympics, constantly competing for spots in the renown games. In Tokyo 2020, native sports like judo and karate have been included. For the 2024 Paris Olympics, the roster includes surfing, competitive climbing, skateboarding, and notably breakdancing. While it won’t be confirmed until December 2020, organizers have made a push to incorporate breakdancing in the Olympics.

Breakdancing, or breaking, is an improvisational style of street dance that is more random than neat. It has been characterized as gritty and athletic, involving spinning on the hands and knees in no specific pattern. The term was first introduced through the New York club scene in the 1960s-70s. The “break” refers to “particular rhythms and sounds produced by deejays by mixing sounds from records to produce a continuous dancing beat” (Britannica). Soon, the style evolved to incorporate “pops” and “locks” and iconic disco movements. Breaking was also adopted by mainstream artists such as Michael Jackson. Nowadays, practitioners are called b-boys and b-girls. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose to add breaking for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The sport achieves the IOC’s goal of making the Olympics “gender-balanced, more youth-focused and more urban” (Olympic). 

“Our aim from the outset has been to highlight what has been the strength of the Games for 32 Olympiads now – the diversity of the sports and the excitement that comes with performance – while also taking the opportunity afforded by the IOC to enhance the programme and offer a new dimension,” said Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet.

Lauren De Young
Joel Keitsu Sorenson poses with his head and shoulder carrying most of his weight, while a foundations of breaking class is being taught.

A mission goal of the organizers is to connect with the youth, and one million b-boys and b-girls practice in France alone. 

“I think it’s an incredible step forward for the current generation and those to come in terms of the opportunities it is going to provide,” said Karam Singh, a competitive breaker based out of the UK.

The 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires included a breaking competition. 

Breakdancing in the 2024 Olympics would be judged the same way as the 2018 Youth Olympics. The Youth Olympics in 2018 scored b-boys and b-girls on certain criteria in an electronic scoreboard. The criteria was termed the “Trivium Value System,” which refers to the three main criteria: Body, Soul, and Mind.

Body was the athletic component, focusing on technique and variety. Soul referred to the interpretive quality, performativity and musicality. And Mind was the artistic quality, composed of creativity and personality.

Interested in learning how to breakdance? There’s one studio in North Liberty that solely focuses on urban styles of hip hop: All the Way Up. 

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