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Breakdance-style dancing: an art form or a sport?  |  NDR.de

Breakdance-style dancing: an art form or a sport? | NDR.de

As of: 8/14/2023 6:28 PM

Some talk about the “symbiosis of fire and water” when it comes to the style of breakdancing. The so-called break is at the core of the disruptive hip-hop culture that emerged 50 years ago in the Bronx, New York.

A conversation with Falk Schacht, hip-hop musician, music journalist and moderator.

You know your dancing very well. How did you actually get into hip-hop culture? It started very early, right?

Falk is old: This is correct. I grew up in a home where jazz, soul, and funk were the norm. In the early 1980s, I automatically connected with breakdance and hip-hop culture and never quite got rid of it.

What are the rules for breakdancing? And what is actually a good break?

aperture: You’re originally dancing against each other and it’s about being the best. It’s a competitive dance in a way. Of course, you can do it alone, but the competition is much more fun. It was partying in the ’70s, and events are finally getting a little bigger. After 1986, there was a hole, largely receding, all over the world. This breakdancing culture survived in Germany and then was re-imported to America because American breakdancers saw it survived like it was in a time capsule – and they wanted to catch up. Then one of the first world breakdancing championships was founded in Hanover in the early 1990s. These are also the structures behind the fact that breakdancing will now go to the Olympics. This is Thomas Hergenreuther, founder of Battle of the Year, and Storm, also a German cutter from Kiel. He helped develop the arbitration system we have now.

video: On the way to the Olympics: Breakdance at Active City Arena (2 minutes)

Break dancing will become an Olympic discipline at the Summer Olympics in Paris. This shows the appreciation of the sport. But some now fear the end of this art form. Is breakdancing a sport that juries can measure in points?

aperture: This is a philosophical question. It’s a physical movement, and if you’re doing it for fun, it’s not a sport. If you organize it and practice it into structures, you can ask the question: Is this a sport or is it an art? I would say they are both at the end of the day and it has to happen in both areas. I think both are completely legitimate.

Only 16 men and 16 women will compete for the medals. The selection process is very difficult. Many say that competition from the USA, France, Japan and Korea is ahead of Germany’s competitors. Do the Germans even have a chance?

aperture: Bronze isn’t unreal – that’s the subjective assessment of a number of commentators I’ve spoken to on the subject. The competition is so great, Asians have caught up considerably in the past 20 years. But this is also due to the fact that in Korea, for example, culture is promoted differently than here. Having so few is seen as challenging, but it’s good that it starts now at all. It can still evolve. Let’s see where we are in ten years.

Breakdance is an art form that is much more than just acrobatics. It’s basically a way of life, an attitude, right?

aperture: definitely. It is part of hip hop culture. It’s a way of life: language, painting, music, dance, visual arts – it’s all there. But it may not be obvious to everyone if you are not dealing with it.

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The Battle of the Year was founded by Thomas Hergenreuther, which first took place at the Döhren Leisure Center in Hanover. How does breakdancing, with its cultural traditions, fit in with organized German clubs?

aperture: This was actually a very important foundation. Youth centers in the 1990s are hip-hop’s playground because hip-hop and many young people elsewhere didn’t have playgrounds. That’s what happened there. This whole culture was basically traveling on trains across Germany from one youth center to another and grew as a result. That’s why it’s a perfect fit – even if there’s definitely one social worker or another here and there who’s upset about what these guys are doing again.

Apparently, Thomas Hergenröther also played a major role in the transformation of breakdancing into an Olympic sport. in which way?

aperture: He is a very important person. He re-established the first official breakdancing tournament. That was in the early nineties. Breakdance was pretty much dead at the time, and he was out. With this event, he set up a beacon and gathered break dancers from all over Europe. Sometimes 5,000 people traveled across Europe by train to meet their “family” again. This “family” has always grown. Now there are 15,000 to 20,000 people watching each event. There are many other breakdancing events now, which is why he is such an important character and contact person.

In German society, Hanover is the center of breakdancing – why?

aperture: This is actually related to Thomas. There are actually not many famous dancers from Hanover. But because this structure existed, because half of the breakdancing community had to travel through this city – even when the action was in Braunschweig or Celle. that hung there. Basically, Thomas Hergenreuther is a cultural ambassador for the city of Hanover.

Some people condemn breakdancing by white artists for imitating African American culture. What do you say to that?

aperture: The point is: what is the alternative? Should you stop being broke? So where does breakdancing happen? Can breakdancing survive then? I see it differently. Cultural appropriation is a problem. Cultural appropriation means: you have to be aware of where what you’re dealing with is coming from. And you have to return the favor, which is cultural worship. It’s the opposite for me. It means I inform myself, I know history, I am humble and aware that I am a guest in the house. I’m a student of hip-hop culture, but I’m also a giver—I don’t just take it. It’s not a take, it’s a give and take.

led the interview Philip Cavert.

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A scene from the breakdancing school in Hamburg.  © Screenshot

Two minutes

If you want to be part of the Olympic selection national team then go ahead for the next elimination competition. Two minutes

This topic in the program:

Culture NDR | Conversation Journal | 08/14/2023 | 4:30 p.m

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