It seems that every genre has a preferred gender representing and defining what excellence looks and sounds like. Who do you visualize when you think of an exceptional dancer that exemplifies the essence of breaking? What color, culture, age, and gender do you conjure?
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a bboy as: “a male who engages in the pursuit of hip-hop culture or adopts its styles.” The dictionary goes on to define a bgirl quite differently from her male counterpart; with the primary definition of a bgirl stating:“a woman who entertains bar patrons and encourages them to spend freely.” Houston, we have a problem.
It’s no secret that breakdancing is a male-dominated pursuit. Enter any jam in any city and experience the overwhelming male energy that envelopes the scene. Breaking is physically demanding, requires power, significant upper body strength and honors the shape, form, and abilities of the male dancer. While it’s true men seem to permeate all aspects of breaking, the delicious reality is that women are increasingly showing up as empowered, legitimate competitors at a greater rate than ever before.
Ana Rokafella Garcia, born in East Harlem, knows this better than anyone. Raised under tightly defined cultural expectations around what good girls look, sound and dance like, Rokafella became one of the first true bgirl pioneers; courageously inserting herself into a scene seemingly reserved for the boys. Her message to any and all aspiring strong female dancers? “I’m letting people know, you can be a woman and be a badass breaker. When you see me, you’re seeing excellence and men don’t have a hold on the word ‘excellence’.”
2017 marks the very first time women competed in the finals of Red Bull’s BC One. This milestone was followed the next year with Ami from Japan being crowned the first ever BC One Champion. In a recent interview, Ami was asked if she had ever felt discriminated against in the world of dance. Her reply a resounding, “Of course, we are so different from b-boys in terms of physical ability and dynamics.”
Here’s what we know, the breaking scene is full of bboys. Some are beginning to make space for their female counterparts. Regardless, women continue to establish and carve out their own rightful place as breakers. The hip-hop culture embraces a mindset that challenges the status quo and encourages individual expression. To all the ladies out there, find your inner goddess and unleash her on the dance floor. Show who you are, what you know and how talented you can be. After all, the question isn’t who’s going to let you. The question is, who’s going to stop you? (Ayn Rand).
By Polli Ring