Breaking Marble Arch: Celebrating the Dance Revolution

From 15-19 July 2024, Marble Arch will come alive with the electrifying energy of breakdancing demonstrations in a unique event: Breaking Marble Arch. This celebration marks a historic milestone for breaking as the dance makes its Olympic debut. Each day from 12:30-1:30pm, skilled breakers will demonstrate their routines, giving audiences a taste of the creativity, strength and passion that define this extraordinary dance.

A Dance of Rebellion and Innovation

Breaking, which emerged in the 1970s, is a cornerstone of hip-hop culture, originating in the Bronx, New York City. This era was marked by significant social and economic challenges, and young people in the Bronx found an outlet in music, dance, and art, creating a vibrant subculture. Breaking, with its roots deeply embedded in this environment, quickly became a symbol of creativity and resilience.

The Early Days

The early days of breaking saw dancers, known as B-Boys and B-Girls, developing unique styles characterised by top rock (standing dance moves), down rock (floor-based dance moves), power moves (acrobatic maneuvers) and freezes (pauses in difficult poses). Pioneers like DJ Kool Herc, who is credited with extending the break section of songs, provided the perfect beats for dancers to showcase their skills. The dance form was a blend of influences, incorporating elements from gymnastics, martial arts, and even Capoeira, a Brazilian dance-fight style.

Breaking Marble Arch: Celebrating the Dance Revolution
Breaking Marble Arch: Celebrating the Dance Revolution
Breaking Marble Arch: Celebrating the Dance Revolution

From Local Phenomenon to Global Movement

Breaking’s rise to prominence was propelled by media exposure in the late 1970s and 1980s. Films like “Wild Style” (1983), “Beat Street” (1984) and documentaries like “Style Wars” (1983) brought breaking to a wider audience. The dance moved beyond the Bronx, inspiring a global movement. Each region put its own spin on breaking, contributing to its evolution and diversity.

The Evolution of Competitive Breaking

As breaking spread so did competitive battles. These face-offs, often held in clubs or on the streets, became a way for dancers to prove their skills and gain respect. The 1990s and 2000s saw the emergence of formalised competitions such as the Battle of the Year, Red Bull BC One and UK B-Boy Championships. These events attracted international participants and showcased breaking as a serious competitive art form.

Breaking into the Olympics

The journey of breaking to the Olympics began with its inclusion in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018. This milestone highlighted the dance’s appeal to younger audiences and its suitability as a sport. The success in Buenos Aires paved the way for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include breaking in the official programme for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, marking a significant recognition of the dance form’s global impact.

The breaking competition at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games comprises two events, one for women on 9 August and one for men on 10 August, when 16 B-Boys and 16 B-Girls will face off in spectacular solo battles. Athletes will use a combination of power moves, including windmills, the 6-step and freezes, as they adapt their style and improvise to the beat of the DJ’s tracks in a bid to secure the judges’ votes and take home the first Olympic breaking medals.