Niels Robitzky alias Storm says b-boying is physically a more masculine dance
Walking into the CMR National PU College Grounds in Kamanahalli, was like walking into another world altogether. The college was swarming with boys, gathered around a small space where two boys were facing off, jerking their bodies in seemingly impossible movements, to some foot-tapping, definitely hip-hop flavoured music.
They were actually performing hip-hop styled moves including “toprock”, one of the two basic movements that constitutes b-boying (or breaking), which is part of the hip-hop culture.
“People usually identify b-boying with ‘downrock’ where the hands and feet are on the ground and people move in circles or do headspins,” says Niels Robitzky, the German b-boying exponent, who was here recently to judge the fifth edition of the Freeze hip-hop jam.
Some boys were attempting to the “downrock” on a small mat a little farther away just as a few other were practising for their showdowns, showing off some more b-boy moves, something one assumed had not really caught on in India. It must be popular, why else would Niels, alias Storm, be judging the event and almost instantly picking the winner of the showdown by pointing?
“B-boying here is not really different from other countries, breaking or b-boying is global and people get inspiration and knowledge from the internet,” he says. “Perhaps in Bangalore it is still self-taught, but there are studios for b-boying almost all over the world.”
The 43-year-old gets quite agitated if one mentions “street dancing” in relation to b-boying. “Where do you see people dancing on the streets? You could refer to it as club style. We basically dance everywhere from weddings to clubs, bus stops and subways because it is part of being a self-taught dancer and you have to work on it from wherever you get inspiration. You have to be passionate and use it wherever you can.”
“I began b-boying when I was 13 and this way, I was getting all the girls. Then I started earning money; it seemed like the best thing to do and I never stopped. I made contacts and it was easy to continue.”
One couldn’t help but notice that there are so few b-girls, even in the Bangalore event. Why the gender divide?
“I would say there are many social dances in hip-hop but dancing together in equal numbers is different. B-boying, physically is more masculine. It’s the way it was created. In those days, b-boys went to clubs to show off and see who’s taking the girls home, the girls liked those guys who looked healthy. And there are different urban dance styles for women, something like boogeying or waacking is perfect for women.”
At the same time, he adds, there are now more women or b-girls in the circuit. Earlier they were doing the same things men did, but are now developing their own styles that are more adapted to a woman’s body. “These girls who developed their own styles are inspiring other women.”