B-Boys and B-Girls bust a move at Hangzhou Asian Games

Korea's Kim Hong-yul, better known as ″Hong 10″ faces Uzbekistan's Djamal Asadulayev during a men's round robin breaking battle at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Friday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

The groove was palpable in the Gongshu Canal stadium as breakdancing made its medal sport debut at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Friday.A total of 45 B-boys and B-girls — the formal term for individual breakdancers — battled it out for a spot in the top eight in either the men’s or women’s competition, and a chance to stay alive for the knock-out rounds on Saturday. The stadium was dark, save for a spotlight on the stage, where the dancers flipped, rocked and spun around on their torsos and heads, improvising their moves to a DJ-spun track. A bright screen displaying the scoreboard hung above the nine-judge panel — possibly the only one in professional sports that featured three baseball caps and a fedora — who awarded points based on six criteria — creativity, technique, personality, performativity, musicality and variety.There were no uniforms — except maybe there were, with every dancer donning some variation of a baggy shirt, loose pants, sneakers and maybe a ball cap or beanie with their national flag stitched onto some part of their outfit.The competition began with a “pre-selection” round, splitting the 25 B-boys into five groups of five and the B-girls, 20 total, into five groups of four. The 16 highest-scoring dancers in each category would make it to the group stage battle-style round robin.An English-speaking emcee-slash-hype-man introduced the dancers by their nicknames, which made it to the big-screen scoreboard. A Chinese translator would repeat every line with the same level of enthusiasm for the Chinese crowd.
The B-boys and B-girls brought big battle energy, staring down their opponents from the circle, who would move along to the music on the outer rim. Every handful of seconds, the emcee would throw in a “yeah, yeah” or “show me what you got.”While competition was fierce, the atmosphere was warm as dancers — many of them likely familiar faces from the world breakdancing circuit — would shake hands or hug as they left the circle.Breakdancing emerged during the 1970s, embedded in hip-hop culture with roots in New York City’s South Bronx, according to the International Olympic Committee, which approved it as an official sport in 2020. It debuts in Paris next summer, and the gold-medalists at the Asian Games will earn an automatic spot among the 16 dancers who get to compete in either the men’s or women’s competitions.All four Koreans made it past the pre-selection and into the round robin, where they were paired with three other dancers, going head-to-head with each across three one-on-one battles.It’s the second time this year many of the dancers are battling it out in Hangzhou after the city hosted the 2023 World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) Asian Championships in July.Korea’s Kim Heon-woo, better known as “Wing,” took gold in the men’s contest at the WDSF Asian Championship while Kim Hyon-gul, known as “Hong 10” finished third. Jeon Ji-ye, “Fresh Bella” also finished third in the women’s category in July and is representing Korea along with 메이저 Kwon “Starry” Seong-hui among the B-girls at the Asian Games.

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