Chinese street dancers leap onto world stage at international competition in East China

By Bi Mengying Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/24 16:33:39

Chinese b-girl Zeng Yingying competes in the 2019 World DanceSport Federation World Breaking Championships on Sunday in Nanjing.

Danny works as judge at the Chinese DanceSport Federation World Cup on Saturday in Nanjing.

Chinese b-boy Astro competes in the 2019 Chinese DanceSport Federation World Cup on Saturday in Nanjing.  

Photos: Courtesy of the World DanceSport Federation committee

The 2019 WDSF (World DanceSport Federation) World Breaking Championships and the CDSF (Chinese DanceSport Federation) Street Dance World Cup kicked off on Thursday in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province. This first of its kind held in China, with total prizes exceeding $100,000, the event attracted more than 700 participants from 65 countries across the world to China.

Running from Thursday to Sunday, the four-day event was hosted at the Lishui Sports Center. The competing categories include breaking, locking, popping and crew battle. There were many big names among the judges, both domestic and international, such as legendary Spanish b-girl Movie One and US breakdancing pioneer Ken Swift, who was listed as one of the most iconic dancers of the 20th century by CNN.

For first three days, participants, most of whom were from China, competed for the CDSF Street Dance World Cup. The Chinese competitors who won the top six places in the men's breaking and top three places in the women's breaking went on to represent China against international participants in the WDSF World Breaking Championships on Sunday.   

The popularity of breaking, or street dance in general, seems to be growing across the globe. 

It was one of three sports that were added to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in an effort to attract a younger audience. The organizing committee for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris also announced in February that breaking would be included as a new sport. 

This sport has also seen a rise in China.

"I've been coming here to China over the last 10 years, so I have a lot of friends here. I have a lot of people that I work with, a lot of good personal relationships with people. So it's good to come back and see everybody getting better and better…These dancers today that we watched, they are gonna inspire many young people," said Swift after the breaking finals of the CDSF Street Dance World Cup on Saturday.

The charm of street dance

Wang Shenjiong, known as Danny, was one of the judges for the contest. Fast approaching 40, he has been street dancing for a long time. He was the coach of China's national breaking team for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina. 

"I can find my true self through street dance. I don't need to cater to popularity, trends or the views of others," he said, explaining the charm of street dance. 

"It does not have many requirements to get started in street dance. Yet it takes a long time to truly master it. It maybe takes a person 10 to 15 years to achieve a certain level. A lot of people give up along the way," Wang said. 

A way of being

Wang added that while some people see taking the time out to dance as a luxury, he couldn't go a day without practicing as it has become an integral part of his life.    

The situation is similar to Xu Kunwei, whose relentless training and practice allowed him to become the champion of the men's breaking at the CDSF Street Dance World Cup. 

Xu, who goes by Astro, is from Macao. 

"The first time I saw a breaking performance in Macao was in 2002. I thought it was so cool and I wanted to learn it. Yet I couldn't find a way until two years later, when my friend helped me find a place to learn and practice. My street dance career started then, and now it has been 15 years," Astro told the Global Times. 

To the world stage and beyond

Astro noted that China has become an increasingly prominent force in street dance.

"In recent years, more and more b-boys from China have traveled to different countries for study and competition, which has contributed to the development of breaking in China. Many major street dance competitions have been held in China, such as BIS, Greenpanda and Redbull BC One. These competitions have acted as excellent platforms for exchanges between Chinese and international street dancers, and brought China's street dance to the next level," he said. 

"I hope that more Chinese dancers will stand on the world stage," Astro added.

During the WDSF World Breaking Championships on Sunday, Zeng Yingying achieved the highest ranking among the nine Chinese participants to win fourth place in the women's breaking section. The winner of the men's breaking was Menno from The Netherlands and the women's champion was Ami from Japan. 

Of course for the street dancers at the event, competing against others is only a part of the fun. 

"After I started street dancing, I met friends across the world. We support each other and help each other. Our body language while dancing reflects different cultures from different countries… This is not just a dance exchange but also an exchange of culture," said Astro.
Newspaper headline: Breaking out

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