Sunday, August 7th, the best of the B-Boy and B-Girl world gathered in Austin, Texas, for the Red Bull BC One Cypher. Dancers from across the globe gathered at Austin City Limits Moody Theater for an evening of head-spinning, breakdancing moves that would ultimately result in one bboy and bgirl winning the competition.
Breakdancing originated in the 1970s and quickly caught on as a thriving culture and lifestyle. When you speak to a b-girl, you’ll instantly learn that breaking is a creative outlet that feeds their soul. The male-dominated industry has become the playground of many notable female dancers, taking up space in a powerful way. Among them are Michiko, Genesis, and Babygirl, three breakdancing powerhouses inspiring women in the dance world with their complex moves.
Women hold value to many industries worldwide but are often undermined based on gender. No matter how good you are, being a woman of color will cause you to work that much harder. Things are no different in the breakdancing world; in fact, these three women are doing their part to create space for others in the industry. I sat down with the ladies to discuss their journey as world-renowned breakdancers and how they’re making strides in a male-dominated industry.
At just 25-years-young, Michiko has a promising future ahead of her. “I have this opportunity to try for the Olympics and I’m thinking about doing it,” she says casually. Not surprising if you’ve followed the Houston-native’s career. She hopped on the breakdancing scene approximately 10 years ago. “My eighth grade dance teacher was a b-boy. I would watch him practice and I saw his crew perform and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that is absolutely incredible.’ Most of the high schools in like Houston have breaking like an elective,” she recalls.
Michiko has a breaking style that sets her a part from other dancers. As a trained gymnast, she’s been able to incorporate lots of flips and positions that show just how limber her body is. Despite her intricate moves, she still finds herself battling for equality. “You have to deal with guys that no matter what, despite them being your peers, they don’t see your talent. They just see that you’re a woman, so I’m gonna try to sleep with you, or you know, ‘you’re a b-girl, because aren’t as good as guys,’ like we will hype you up for certain things, but we’re not gonna take you as serious as we would take another guy unless you really amaze us,” she says. “It’s like you have to go above and beyond.”
Being a woman of color adds another layer to the mix. Michiko says sometimes it can feel exhausting trying to prove herself. “They almost see us as like, some of the lowest on the totem pole, which is crazy, because Black women are some of the people that built this in the first place. That’s always been a weird thing. But I’ve experienced the opposite end of the spectrum as well. I’ve met bboys who affirm me by saying, ‘You got this in your blood, you got this in your soul.’ So again, it’s a hit or miss,” she explains.
Babygirl has dedicated over 20 years to breakdancing. As a 3rd generation b-girl, dancing runs creatively rampant through the Houston-native’s blood. Her passion for change encourages her to give back as the founder and CEO of BGirl City, the director of Youth Advocates, and the founder of WriteHERS Bench & Texas Original Clothing brand. Not only is she a dreamer and doer, Babygirl aims to bridge the gap between creativity and those who are in need. “It’s all about the next generation coming up, and providing safe spaces for them to grow and to shape their minds. It’s important to have a space where they’re able to speak and not be scared of being who they want to be,” Babygirl says.
Babygirl’s longevity in the breakdancing world has caused her to feel the sting of being a woman in a male-dominated field. “You know, sometimes I feel like I’m holding on by a thread,” she says. “I go through that (discrimination in the break world) a lot as a woman. At the same time, in those moments when I’m being pushed into a corner, I want to come out swinging.” Babygirl says women are killing it behind the scenes despite the bumps in the road. “I mean, it’s been women. The structure, the command, everything about the production — what I’ve seen and met are many women making it all happen throughout the years. I just hope we continue seeing them pushed to the forefront,” she continues.
Babygirl will continue to do her part within the community by advocating for the safety and creativity of the next generation. “I want to instill core and fundamental values not only for myself but for the women around me and the doors opening for the other girls because that’s what it’s all about to me.”
Genesis has poured over 20 years into the breakdancing world. The flavorful dancer first stepped on the scene in 1999 as a high school freshman in Japan. Inspired by the Japanese b-boy and b-girl culture, she embraced the dance lifestyle; the rest is history. “I saw b-boys breaking after school in the cafeteria, which was my first introduction to breaking. I ended up befriending some of them, and I dated a b-boy in my high school years. Fell in love with it since then,” she recalls.
Genesis has not been on the receiving end of gender discrimination in the breakdancing community. Her male peers have been nothing but supportive, which offers another perspective that is sometimes downplayed. “I am lucky not to have any bad experiences with the opposite sex. So far, my brothers, my Kings, they’ve been very supportive. They support who I am, and I feel like if you are true to yourself and you genuinely show that in your skills or your craft, that will be seen,” she says.
Still, she is creating a safe space for other women because she knows her experience isn’t everyone else’s. “I’ve seen many of my brothers stepping up, especially around things dealing with sexual harassment/assault that aren’t typically spoken about. If someone in the scene does it, how do you like approach that? So, I have been doing collaborations on sexual harassment training online and panels with the Good Foot Collective. They have a program called the No Excuse program, which provides a lot of information. We try to create a safe space,” Genesis says.
Breakdancing is no different from any other field or industry out there. Potential discrimination shouldn’t deter you from exploring your talents in the field. Women are known to work twice as hard as their male counterparts, no matter where they are. That said, if you’re interested in entering the b-girl world, you’ll want to tap into Red Bull’s BC One All Star Tour. A platform for education and connection, the Red Bull BC One All Star Tour gives b-girls and b-boys at all levels the chance to learn from some of the world’s most elite breakers. The tour touches down in Austin, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Portland, Tri-Cities, and Seattle and will feature cyphers, workshops, panels and exhibition battles taking place in each city. Events will be led by Red Bull BC One All Stars Logistx (USA), Lilou (France), Victor (USA), Ronnie (USA), Phil Wizard (Canada), Shigekix (Japan) Lil Zoo (Austria), and RoxRite (USA). For more information and ticketing/sign-ups, click here.
Here’s more from my experience at the Red Bull BC One Cypher.
Red Bull B-Girls Discuss The Challenges Of Breakdancing In A Male Dominated Field was originally published on hellobeautiful.com