Joseph Landy heading into a windmill position during his dance practice after school.
Joseph Landy heading into a windmill position during his dance practice after school.
photo Joseph Landy

What is Break Dancing?


As a breaker, people have imagined a picture of the dance called breaking. Many don’t realize that the term break dance is the incorrect way to address the dance breaking. Many people depict break dance as just spinning on your head and the dance being kind of silly since we are doing acrobatic movements that many don’t see on the regular. A ton of people get excited watching but don’t truly acknowledge the art of breaking.

I’ve had multiple incidents where I told people that I was going to break. They seemed confused and looked at me as if I was crazy or if I was going to break something – they had no clue that it was a form of dance.

Some of these incidents also include people saying that break dance is very “boring” and “lame,” and many have said “are you going to break your bones because it’s called break dance” as a joke, being ignorant regarding the art breaking.

From what I’ve seen, there are not many people breaking. If there are breakers, they usually range between the ages of 24 and 30, not many people are dancing or doing breaking at all. I would dance in many facilities and breaking was the least popular genre amongst the groups of dancers that I’ve collaborated or danced with. Many claim that it’s dangerous, thus not trying, and that they need a lot of upper body strength to control moves such as freezes or power moves.

Joseph Landy doing a no-hand handstand in Shimogyo, Kyoto, Japan. (Jordan Campbell)With the acrobatic moves, flexibility, and creativity, breaking always goes unnoticed.

Many Pace students and staff are confused or have a certain image of breakers.

Junior, Stephon Peppers said “break dance is when, like, you move around your body mad fast, spin around in circles.”

Ms. O’Sullivan, geometry teacher, said “I don’t really know, I don’t know how to describe it.”

Junior Tyrese Lee said, “I wouldn’t know to be honest,” breaking is a type of dance to do backflips and stuff.”

Junior, Dejonte Campbell said, “I have no clue what break dance is, I just know it’s a type of dance.”

So what is breaking and how did it originate?

Breaking originally started in the 1970s in New York but blew up during the 1980s. It was created by Black and Latino youths in the Bronx, New York City. A DJ named Kool Herc started the genre by playing two copies of the same record mixing them both between. This was so that the breakers could extend the break and the dancers would be able to showcase their moves. Thus, inspiring the creation of breaking because the dancers, aka b-boys and b-girls, would dance to the break of the track.

It is a style of street dance that incorporates body movements, acrobatics, and coordination. These dances consist of top rock, footwork, freezes, power moves, go-downs, tricks, and transitions that help create the movements and creativity in each freestyle or round.

The dance is unnoticed but I love it so much and how it makes me feel. It gets many people up and moving when they start watching, the yelling of “oohs” and “ahhs” to show how impressive a move is. It is a great feeling as a performer. It makes me feel great when the spectators around me give compliments such as “he’s good” or “he’s very talented”. It makes you feel at peace, the music also takes as much as the crowd does. Being able to hear the music, feel the beat every time you’re doing a step or move and hear the loud crowd surrounding me.

It’s unfortunate more people don’t know what breakdancing truly is. I want many to acknowledge what the dance means to us dancers who participate in breaking – dance is a way to express ourselves in the form of art.

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