Breaking has come a long way from Rock Steady Park. Today, the IOC has announced that the New York-born art form will be a part of the olympics in Paris in 2024. While there is still lots of work and planning to be done to figure out judges, scoring, and teams, legendary B-boy, Crazy Legs, is "optimistic" about what breaking will bring to the table. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on what breaking in the olympics will look, sound, and feel like.
First and foremost, I know it was important that it be referred to on this global scale as "breaking" and not "breakdancing." For those not well-versed on the difference, can you break that down?
Crazy Legs: When I first got into breaking, it was called "breaking," "rocking," "b-boying," and "b-girling." In 1982, we had a manager who was from the UK. Her name was Kool Lady Blue. Kool Lady Blue misspoke in a meeting and said the word "breakdance." And we laughed at her, because we were like, "what's that? We don't know what you're talking about. We've been dancing for years and we had never heard that term." But she was basically using that term when she was speaking to press and when she would do our press releases. She didn't understand that the word took away from ownership. So these days it's really more about like, "let's stick to the terms that came from our culture and not have someone come in and redefine us."
How do you think the music is going to play into the whole thing?
Crazy Legs: It'll be all original music. They'll be paying different producers, DJs, and b-boys, to create new break beats as opposed to everyone thinking that it always has to be the same old classic old school break beats. Because there's a whole new generation out there and they have to have this shine too and know what they appreciate as well.
You don't want people rocking to "Apache" forever...
Crazy Legs: Exactly.
Will it be nation versus nation like traditional olympic competition?
Crazy Legs: I would like to see them put a focus on countries working together. Imagine a b-boy from Japan teaming up with a b-boy from Brazil. That would be amazing.
Could this be the opportunity where the gender lines completely evaporate for the first time in an Olympic context?
Crazy Legs: Yeah, that would be nice. I mean, the thing is, that within breaking, we already do that. Sometimes at a breaking event you'll have a portion of it called a "Bonnie and Clyde" where it's a b-boy and a b-girl versus a b-boy and a b-girl. We've been doing that for maybe 20 years now.
What do you think the judging criteria will be like?
Crazy Legs: They have to have character, rhythm, explosiveness, power moves, and a foundation. They have to be fundamentally sound when it comes to the dancing. We are judging based on a complete presentation. So you can't just go in there and just flip, flip, spin, spin, spin, and never dance. You have to dance.
Is it appropriate to call this a sport?
Crazy Legs: For me, I'm not going to call it a sport. I think with, and out of respect for the Olympic platform and it being their platform, I think there's going to have to be some compromise. I think a lot of this is still about educating the Olympics, IOC and whatever federations from each country on what the terminologies honor the culture. I think that because of breaking being so unique, it should not be renamed by outsiders just because it's on their platform. It's kind of like when we go to see a Broadway play and you're going to watch Shakespeare — just because I'm from the Bronx — the people aren't going to make it easier for me. I have to take the time to learn about Shakespeare and his lingo. I think people who are learning about breaking need to really learn about it and we shouldn't have to make it so that it's dummy proof for them just because they choose to not do their research.
*HEADER CREDIT: Crazy Legs (Photo by Carlo Cruz from Red Bull Content Pool)