Give Me A Break!

Breakdancing to be recognized at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris


Liliyana Colon, Staff Writer

From the cement streets of New York in the 1970s to the massive stage of the Olympic Games, break dancing has taken a path that few could have predicted.

Break dance–also known as “breaking”–made its Olympic debut at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.  As a result of its “exceptional success” in 2018, the sport will be included in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Breaking began in New York City in the 1970s and was especially popular among the Bronx’s Latino and Black communities. Some people are worried the Olympics may tarnish the sports culture, while others think this could inspire young dancers. The sport has grown in popularity over the last 50 years, progressing from cardboard-covered streets to dance studios and, finally, to formal competitions. Elkhart High School sophomore Tyler Levitz has taken up break dancing as a fun side-hobby. He chose to speak on the art of breaking, saying, “Breakdancing is real unique, because it requires the dancer to apply their own creativity, and the majority of the dancing is freestyle, which means you gotta think on the spot.”

Since the 1990s, breaking competitions have been organized all around the world. This has contributed to the dance form’s popularity spreading beyond urban hip-hop communities and into the general public. Music has a huge influence on the scene in many ways, and as music has evolved, so has breaking. Breakers began dancing to a record’s “break” in the 70s, and DJs used to loop that piece continuously so that it was long enough for people to dance to. The scene and music have evolved significantly since then, but the DJ continues to play a crucial part in breaking battles, because they set the tone for the entire event and how the breakers move.

For example, 10 to 15 years ago, New York City was known for its more aggressive, fast-paced style. Meanwhile, Philadelphia, barely a 2-hour drive away, was recognized for having a more classic, fundamental approach, which was mirrored in the breaks and funk music. Even now, one can notice the influence of music on individual breakers and how they’ve created their techniques according to their musical tastes.

Many will be waiting for the debut in Paris not on a mat in a gym, but on a high-production dance floor with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. This won’t just be the Olympic debut of a sport; it will be the Olympic debut of a spectacle.