Red Bull BC One is coming to India and here's what their three-day Mumbai camp has to offer
When the roots of hip-hop were taking shape in New York City boroughs during the 1970s, everything revolved around DJing, emceeing, graffiti art, and breaking. This athletic style of street choreography also called breakdancing or b-boying/b-girling has grown bigger and louder across the world. Today, the movement is very strong, so much so that breaking is provisionally included in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris! This is primarily due to b-boys, b-girls—terms that have seeped into India’s pop-culture vernacular as well with films like Gully Boy—and various championships that gave them exposure. A pioneer among these championships is Red Bull BC One World Final. Started in 2004, this year marks the 16th edition of the World Championship and this time, it is happening in Mumbai. Ahead of their three-day camp that begins on November 7 at Famous Studios, we provide a sneak peek at what’s in store for breakdance and hip-hop aficionados.
The war room
There will be 11 ‘battles’—a term that describes the dance showdown when two or more crews or b-boys/girls face each other. Among the ones that you shouldn’t miss are Last Chance Cypher and B-Girl World Final (on November 7). This is the last chance for B-Boys and B-Girls from India to make it to the finale. While the former will select two boys, the latter will pick four girls—both of which will determine the final line-up of 16 dancers heading to the world finals. Another battle to watch for is Represent, the Indian crew battle (on November 9) as it will see some of the top crews in the country take each other on.
Walk the talk
There are a series of workshops from the art of breaking to hip-hop, popping (a dance that combines rigid robotic moves with loose flowing moves), waacking (a style involving rhythmically moving one’s arms to the beat) besides a masterclass on battle beats and on footwork. They are open to all dancers.. They are open to all dancers. There is also an interesting panel discussion on the ‘Origins of Street Culture’ which will see legendary singer-songwriter Apache Indian who feels that the street culture in India is the most vibrant that he has ever seen. “It became a part of the mainstream culture when you heard the sound in Bollywood films and definitely when ‘Gully Boy’ was released,” he adds. Besides him, the discussion will see German dance pioneer Storm, turntablist DJ Uri, Abhijeet Singh who co-founded multi-brand sneaker store Veg/NonVeg, and artist Hanif Qureshi who co-founded St+art putting forth their perspective.
Feel the beat
Music is integral to breaking and it is to this three-day-camp as well. To round off the celebration each day, there are after-parties featuring the likes of British musician Apache Indian, DJ Skeme Richards from Philadelphia, and some of the finest Indian DJs including MoCity, Uri, Spindoc and Ishani. Besides, rapper DIVINE, who also created Red Bull BC One Anthem ‘Legends’, will be giving a performance on the closing night. “I am going to play Legends for sure along with a few tracks from my album, Kohinoor,” says Divine while adding that world finale is happening in India is a huge landmark for the home-grown breaking and hip-hop community.
Go hard or go home!
The finale happening on November 9 will see a B-Boy and a B-Girl crowned with the title of the Red Bull BC One World Champion 2019. Among the finalists is 23-year-old Arif Chaudhary aka B-Boy Flying Machine from Mumbai, who has won Red Bull’s Indian championship thrice and is the first (and only) Indian to get a wildcard entry directly to the World Final. While he has been spending six-to-seven hours a day to prepare himself for the final battle, he is also excited to see how breaking is evolving in India. Another interesting person to watch here is 30-year-old Menno Van Gorp aka B-Boy Menno from Netherland, who won the last two world championships and will mark a hattrick if he wins this championship as well. “For me, it is very important… nobody has ever won it three times so that’s a very big challenge and motivation for me. I want to live just to dance all the time. So winning a championship like Red Bull BC One will just make it easier to make a living out of breaking. It will keep me relevant,” he admits.
Bangalore-based 23-year-old Johanna Rodrigues aka B-Girl Jo is the first Indian B-Girl to be competing at the qualifier round for women on November 7. If she makes it, she will be among the top four B-Girls to compete for the title.
"Being a B-girl in the Indian breaking scene has its positives and negatives. Firstly, it is changing drastically as the worldwide community has begun recognising B-girls and has started inviting them on judging panels, battles, etc. Secondly, being just 30-40 members in a community of around 1,000, we stand out a lot and really quickly. While this can be a great advantage, in some instances, this has led to unconsciously comparing one girl to another. Battles and competitions are just one aspect of the game, every dancer needs to be appreciated for their unique addition to the dance form and motivated differently. And, as a B-Girl, my ambitions were always much bigger than being 'better' than the next girl. Instead of being competitive outside of battles, we can strive to grow together in numbers and quality," she says.