B-girl lets world see Gen Z’s talent, patriotism, effort
Breaking barriers
Published: Aug 11, 2022 09:23 PM
Liu Qingyi competes at a break dancing event of China's 14th National Games in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province on September 25, 2021. Photo: VCG

Liu Qingyi competes at a break dancing event of China's 14th National Games in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province on September 25, 2021. Photo: VCG

It has been three days since Liu Qingyi won the global breakdance competition at Outbreak Europe 2022 in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, but the 16-year-old girl from Central China's Henan Province is still busy with a full day's training in France from morning to night. 

Liu told the Global Times on Wednesday that she had never thought she would be able to advance all the way to the end. 

"I'm still very excited to win the championship… I didn't have much hope for the competition at the very beginning, with so many participants and the strong and potential opponents."

Outbreak Europe, a top-level breakdancing competition, is the central stage for more than 600 dancers from over 30 countries, including many promising stars and heavyweights like Nicka, 2021's champion of the women's 1vs1 match. 

Liu stood out among 124 participants in the audition and continued her amazing run by defeating competitors from the Netherlands and Germany to reach the semi-finals. She then made history by winning against Italian dancer Anti to finally take top spot, achieving a major breakthrough for the motherland by becoming the first Chinese B-girl to ever win the first world breakdance top-level championship. 

In Liu's view, her win is mainly attributed to two factors: quality and freshness. 

"As a player in good form, once I get to the arena, I will release myself to the fullest. My overall dance moves are relatively good; they appeal to the audience, opponents and referees," said Liu of her winning performance, noting that in the past, few Chinese people had been able to go so far in this kind of competition.

"It's because I bring some impact to the stage as a newcomer. Thinking about people staying up late to watch our games in China, I feel that it was worth staying up all night," she added, despite feeling disappointed at some of her moves caused by a lack of international competition experience. 

All dancers do their own choreography during the breakdance performance. In the 1vs1 match, dancers add improvised moves over the accompanying music. 

Liu said she brings different content each time she competes. "Showing the same content and moves is not where the charm of 1vs1 battles lie."

Love to dance 

It all started six years ago when then 10-year-old Liu saw a group of people dancing in the street, which she thought was "so cool," and hoped to join them. 

It was the start of an amazing story, going from a novice dancer to a member of the provincial team. By September, 2021, she had won the first breakdancing championship at China's national games, which helped her get selected into Team China. 

Liu is confident that her performance was good enough for her to be selected. 

"I usually practice hard and compete well. I felt so happy to compete for China," she said. 

Breakdancing has become known to more people after it was announced in 2020 that it would be a new event for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. 

After being selected for the national team, Liu and her teammates received more professional training. 

Liu made her debut at the WDSF World Breaking Championship in France in December 2021, ending in ninth place while her teammate Rui Fenqi came in 16th. 

Both of them then qualified for the World Games in the US in July 2022, in which Liu came fourth, just one place away from the podium. 

"I hope to stand on the podium at the Paris Olympics and win a medal for China. I will work hard toward this goal," she said. 

But this is no easy task, as Liu and her teammates have to face challenges from many top European and American athletes. 

As a newcomer, "we have to do more and try our best to catch up," she said. 

"China has so many promising B-boys and B-girls. We also have our own advantages and styles," Liu added.

Another breakthrough from Team China was made by Shang Xiaoyu when he reached the semi-finals in Slovakia, which is the best result that a Chinese male breakdancer has ever achieved in the world's top competition. 

Eyes on the future 

In Liu's eyes, dance is an endless artistic pursuit. Every dancer has their own style and things that they hope to express. 

"Never stop exploring. I will improve my dance and learn from various new styles with new elements," she said. 

Dancing is something that Liu will continue pursuing even after the upcoming Asian Games and 2024 Paris Games. 

"Being able to turn my hobby into a career makes me a lucky person," said the young B-girl. 

"As a dancer who loves breakdancing, I will keep my love and passion for dance."