Let’s be honest–when we think of “world-class” b-boys and b-girls, a few things come to mind:
BC One. Big stage battles, manufactured music, the same handful of judges we’ve seen over and over.
And that’s cool.
But only a certain type of b-boy and b-girl does well at those jams. Think the All Stars, Victor, Issei, Hong-10, Wing. We’re talking physical beasts, mechanical in their movement.
We’ve all seen them hit beats, but they’re not known for musicality or variation in dancing.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but the structure of these big jams–the music, the stage, the judges (and yes, who’s hosting it)–favors a type of b-boy or b-girl. And that’s changing what we all think of as “world-class.”
What exactly does that mean? Well, let’s talk about Zoopreme…
Alright, I get it. He didn’t beat Victor or Issei or Hong-10 or Wing at Unbreakable. But his bracket was no joke.
Phil Wizard in top 8. Ives in semis. Bart in the finals.
He took out guys who will be at BC One this year. Guys who have done well at–or won–qualifiers in the past. Guys with that beastly, mechanical style that relies on tech.
And Zoopreme is a beast in his own right–not everyone can crank out 1.5s and corks like him.
So why does it matter that he won?
Let’s back up…and stick with me on this.
We’re all thinking about “breaking” in the Olympics in 2024, right? That means that “breaking” is going to need to be (1) judged and (2) judged in a way that’s understandable to people who aren’t “breakers.”
Which means we’ll have to assign a standardized judging system…which will favor standardization of breaking form, moves, and execution.
Something we’ve already seen hints of at big comps like BC One.
Back to Zoopreme.
His win at Unbreakable matters because he did it with his style.
Sounds obvious, I know. But he took a big jam–a stage battle–with flavor, musicality, and by interpreting lyrics. The way he dances flies in the face of what we think of as “successful” b-boying at a big, commercial jam.
And let’s think about this for a sec…could he have won without those same songs? Go back up and peep the vid again, and pay attention to the music.
How many of those songs have you heard at BC One? How many have you heard at a Silverback or commercial jam?
There’s a lot going on there with copyright and stuff–I won’t get too far into it.
But the short version is that at those commercial jams, they only play–they can only play–music manufactured for breaking.
Meaning a b-boy like Zoopreme–someone who wins with style and slays to dope breaks and hip hop tracks–is at an automatic disadvantage when/if he steps on the BC One stage.
I’m going to let you decide whether Victor, Hong-10 and those guys are better dancers than Zoopreme.
But think about this. Big jams (like BC One) create an environment–including the stage, music, and judges–that favor a type of breaking.
And when breakers like the All Stars win those big jams, we as a community are reinforcing the idea that world-class breaking is technical, mechanical, and only physical–not nuanced, stylish, or musical.
So a musicality beast like Zoopreme might not make it to the 2024 Olympics because he’s too good at dancing. He might just be a blip in the Matrix.
And this might be the direction “breaking” takes as a whole.
Guess we better all go work on our one-armed airflares.