B-Girl Bar-B and B-Boy Wildchild win first ever breaking national championship, qualify for worlds

(From left to right) B-Boys Flying Machine, Wildchild, Tornado celebrate on the podium of the inaugural breaking nationals. AIDSF

In a major push towards recognising and promoting breaking as an organised sport in India ahead of its Olympic debut at Paris 2024, the All India Dance Sport Federation (AIDSF) held the first-ever national breaking championship on Sunday in Mumbai, with the gold and silver medallists from the competition qualifying to represent India at the 2021 World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) World Breaking Championship in Paris on December 4.

Organised by the newly instituted Breakdance Federation of India (BFI), under the aegis of the WDSF-affiliated AIDSF, the inaugural national breaking championship is the most decisive step yet by the governing body of dance-sport in the country towards scouting talent for potential Indian representation in the sport -- more widely and informally known as breakdancing -- at the Paris Olympics.

Among the 57 contestants that made the final round of the inaugural national championship, breakers from Mumbai completed a clean sweep in the B-Boys' category, as Wildchild (Eshwar Tiwari), Flying Machine (Arif Chaudhury), and Ramesh Anand Yadav took gold, silver, and bronze, respectively. B-Girls Bar-B (Siddhi Sumedh Tambe from Mumbai), Jo (Johanna Rodrigues, Bengaluru), and Glib (Simran Ranga, Jaipur) took gold, silver, and bronze in the women's category.

The significance of a podium finish at the national championship could be far-reaching as far as participation of Indian breakers in world events beyond the highly competitive Red Bull BC One World Final. Aside from the top two breakers from each of the two categories - B-Boys (male competitors) and B-Girls (female competitors) - earning nomination for the World Breaking Championship, the bronze medallists and other standout performers at the national championships leading up to Paris 2024, will be considered for the Youth Olympic Games, World Games, Indoor Asian Games, Asiad, and the Olympics, according to AIDSF and BFI general secretary Biswajit Mohanty.

"AIDSF has done nationals for Latin dance forms for 11 years, but this was our first nationals in breaking. It was a challenge to host it during a pandemic, but we recognise the need for us to give our breakers the best chance to qualify for Paris 2024, so we organised this competition," Mohanty told ESPN. "We'll be hosting our next national championship in January 2022, and purely on the merit of scores and rankings, we will send breakers from every edition to the continental and global events."

Divided into three phases, the championship involved a digital qualifying round where, dancers aged 16 years and above had to register their names on the BFI website and then submit unedited videos of breaking of up to two minutes, between September 7 and 30. Thirty-seven B-Boys and 20 B-Girls were then selected for the in-person preliminary round that was held on Sunday at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai, where 16 breakers from each gender category later in the day locked horns in "1 vs 1" solo "battles" or competitions in the final for the top three spots, mirroring the format of the Paris 2024 finals.

The five-panel jury that virtually adjudicated the prelims and finals comprised B-boys Lil Dragon (Taiwan), Gee One (Thailand), Bobby Tan (Malaysia), and Lussy Sky (Ukraine), and AIDSF-nominated Ukraine-based judge Anzhelika Kumar. The 32 finalists were marked on five areas, each carrying a maximum score of 10: execution, originality, musicality, dynamics, and showmanship.

With next month's World Breaking Championship, which was originally scheduled for August 2020 in Nanjing, being part of qualifiers to the World Games, slated to be held in July 2022 in Birmingham, USA, Mohanty hopes the Indian quartet will "grow in confidence" competing against "the best of the best" as the federation inches closer to receiving full affiliation with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

"AIDSF is taking small but steady steps to fulfill India's breaking dream at Paris [2024]." Mohanty said. "We received provisional affiliation from the IOA in September and were even able to rope in a few sponsors for the first-ever national breaking championships. We want our breakers to compete internationally, get better and stronger, and make the cut for the 2024 Olympics. In a few months' time, we will come under the IOA umbrella and push our efforts even further."

IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta told ESPN that at the "first general house meeting after the elections" of the national Olympic committee, (scheduled for December 19), the AIDSF's permanent affiliation is likely to be "confirmed".