It was a sub-culture phenomenon, but soon it spread to the world and created its own fans. Today, breakdance is considered one of the most important elements of the hip-hop culture.
This acrobatic dance often reminiscent of the ’80s has its lovers in Turkey as well, even today. İstanbul was home to breakdancing aficionados over the weekend. On Sunday, the Turkish finals of Red Bull BC One competition were held at the Garajistanbul performing arts platform, where 16 “b-boys” -- breakdancers -- showcased their skills. The winner of Sunday’s finals was b-boy Exen, who will now represent Turkey in the regional finals in St. Petersburg on Aug. 4. If he manages to make it to the top there, he will later compete in Red Bull BC One World Final in Rio de Janeiro in September. Dancers in the competition were judged by a jury made up of professional breakdancers Kolobok, from Ukraine, Vartan, from Germany, and Taisuke, from Japan.
“Breakdance has evolved so much, especially since the ’80s,” says Vartan, founder of the b-boy crew Flying Steps, in an interview on Sunday with Today’s Zaman. “It started on the streets but now it has grown so much that there are many professional dancers. At the beginning it was small. It was something you did just for fun. Now it is taken more seriously. As breakdancers we have our own music, we create our own choreography, we go to competitions and now we can take breakdance from the streets and carry it to the next level -- the big dance halls -- and show people how artful breakdance really is.”
Vartan himself started breakdancing at the end of the ’80s. “I saw movies on breakdance and I was fascinated by this dance,” says the German dancer. “So I started practicing by myself, then I came across people with whom I shared the same interests and we started practicing together.”
Breakdance as a lifestyle
For Vartan, what is important about breakdance is to comprehend the philosophy behind the numbers and routines. “You have your own crew; you learn by yourself,” he says. “Of course, there are some basics, and you use them, but after that you create your own style, you are free, you can do everything you want, it is like a lifestyle. … You are your own boss. Every time you begin practicing, you think about new steps and moves … you think of ways to create something new.”
“Breakdance is my lifestyle,” says Kolobok, one of the most popular b-boys of Ukraine, where breakdance has developed relatively recently. “At the beginning, of course it was not seen as something good; people thought it was [rebellious]. But it’s creativity. You must create figures from your own body; it’s a form of expression.”
“The image of street dance was no good in Japan,” explains Taisuke, a member of Red Bull BC One All Stars and also billed as Japan’s best b-boy. “If you ever danced on the street, everybody would say that you were a bad boy. Now it’s changed.”
Having started breakdancing at the age of 8, Taisuke has been dancing for 15 years now. Taisuke says breakdance should be understood as an art form. “Breakdance is not sports. It is art. And it is worldwide. When I go to another country to meet other breakdancers, if I cannot speak in their language, I always have breakdance to express myself.”