Orange County School of the Arts

Dancing breaks its way into the 2024 Olympics

After being postponed due to the coronavirus, the Summer Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will finally take place this summer from July 23 to August 8. Along with the announcement of the new date, the International Olympic Committee announced it has added six new sports to the existing 28 sports.

Making their debut this summer are: skateboarding (street and park); sport climbing, which includes events in speed climbing, bouldering and lead climbing; surfing; karate; baseball; and softball. As exciting as this must be for sports fans across the world, the more artistic fans may be disappointed a dance sport is not listed.

Well, there is good news for all of us dance enthusiasts who have only been watching the summer Olympics for the rhythmic gymnastics floor exercises. Soon, breaking, otherwise known as breakdancing, will be an Olympic sport.

Breaking actually made its Olympic debut at the 2018 Summer Youth Games in Buenos Aires. Well received by the audience and social media, it gained popularity over several other sports at the event. Organizers of the 2024 Paris Games took note and officially announced in December that breaking would be included at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. 

While it is categorized as a style of dance, breaking can be included in the field of sports better than other styles because it is competitive dancing with athletic components.

Jean-Laurent Bourquin, the senior advisor of the World DanceSport Federation, describes breaking as “different types of movements, including foot movements performed from a standing position, floor-based moves performed with the body supported on the hands and feet, holding positions and acrobatic performances, all of which require great coordination, strength and endurance.”

Competitions usually consist of one-on-one battles, or duels, between breakers (B-Boys or B-Girls), according to the World DanceSport Federation. Each battle includes alternating performances of flips, kicks, spins and freezes, according to the World DanceSport Federation. After one competitor breaks for approximately 30 to 45 seconds, the other responds. The breakers go three rounds, back and forth, to the same music, according to the World DanceSport Federation.

In fact, winners of battles are not determined by who spins on his/her head the longest, but by who presents the best transitions, expressions and miniscule gestures and moves, according to the World DanceSport Federation. In duels, two breakers face-off and are judged directly against each other based on six criteria: technique, variety, performativity, musicality, creativity and personality. Judges use the “Trivium Value System,” which takes a holistic approach to judging.

“It ensures that physicality (body), artistic ability (mind) and interpretative quality (soul) are all considered in real time by the judges,” Bourquin said.

What led to the addition of this new-wave sport to join the Olympic program in 2024, following sports like skateboarding, climbing and surfing?

We can thank the current International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach. Bach has been a major advocate for modernizing the Olympics. In fact, the objectives of the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 were to move the Olympics into a new modern era by focusing on sports that are more gender balanced, youth-oriented, do not require expensive venues and are television-friendly.

“We have had a clear priority,” Bach said, according to USA Today. “And this is to introduce sports which are particularly popular among the younger generations. And also to take into account the urbanization of sport.”

Fortunately, breaking checked off all of the boxes and was added to the program for 2024.

As we look forward to watching this new sport, we can also dream about what other changes to the Olympics we will see in the future beyond 2024.

What will the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games be like? Will other dance styles like ballroom dancing be included?

We’ll just have to wait and see.