B-girls Serena Paredes and Valeria Gonzalez, together with b-boys Ignacio Mercado and Mariano Carvajal are vying for the two quotas available for Argentina, the host country of the Youth Olympic Games.
For the next summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games 24 of the top young breakers in the world will be ready to show their talent to the crowds at Urban Park, the site of the competition.
Breaking will make its debut at Buenos Aires 2018 as a new discipline that is sure to turn heads in the Olympic world. Against this backdrop, four Argentine dancers are training to compete for the two slots Argentina has as the host country for the next summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games.
In a competition without precedent in the Olympic movement, the World DanceSport Federation called on dancers from all over the world to post their breaking videos to social media. The result? The Federation received more than 1,000 videos from young people from 81 countries which formed part of the first qualifying stage on the road to Buenos Aires 2018.
Within this elite group of dancers there are four Argentines – two b-girls and two b-boys- who are preparing around the clock with the hope of making their discipline’s Olympic debut. They are: Serena Paredes, Valeria Gonzalez, Ignacio Mercado, Mariano Carvajal.
For the next qualifying phase at the World Youth Breaking Championship in Tokyo from May 19 to 20, there are less than 90 dancers trying to ensure their ticket to Buenos Aires 2018.
“To compete at Buenos Aires 2018 is a dream and a great opportunity because not just anybody has the chance to compete and represent their country in such an international event. If I make it, it’s going to help me in the sport and also as a person”, said Serena Paredes.
Born in the Argentine city of Rosario in the province of Santa Fe, Paredes told buenosaires2018.com how she got into breakdancing.
“I started practicing three years ago, but I knew about it before then. I liked it and it intrigued me. Currently, I’m perfecting it so I’ll be able to dance professionally”, she said.
Vale Gonzalez is another Argentine b-girl hoping to get an Olympic ticket. She was one of many who sent in her video in the first call by the World Federation. She did it from her home, located in the city of Tunuyán, in the province of Mendoza.
“I started dancing in July of 2015 because I was interested in it since I was really little, but I didn’t know how I could learn until my mom found out that there were classes taught by Jeremias Sosa in a municipal centre. That’s where I started and he’s now my coach”, said Gonzalez, who has a daily training routine.
“From Monday to Friday we train from 6pm to 10pm in municipal centre. We warm-up for half an hour and after that we work on specific techniques. In the last hour we do practical exercises, including weights. And after that I have an hour of stretching at home. I also follow a diet that was recommended by a nutritionist. The music is always break bit”, she explained.
“To be able to participate in the Games involves sacrifice and it’s a big responsibility because it means representing my province and my country”, added Gonzalez, who dreams of participating at Buenos Aires 2018 and starting her professional breaking career.
There are also two local b-boys competing to see who represents Argentina in Olympic breaking: Ignacio Mercado and Mariano Carvajal, both of whom are in the final stage of qualifiers for the Games.
“I started dancing when I was three years old when I discovered breaking by watching a video with b-boys. And this happened because my dad listened to hip hop”, said Mercado, known as Kid Nachito in the breaking world.
The other Argentine is Carvajal, or BBoy Broly to his fans. “My dad has been a breaking professor since 2000, the year that I was born. We lived next to a place that gave classes. When I was four years old my family tells me that I crossed the room where they gave classes and started dancing. Since I can remember, more or less at six years old, I did head spins and a few other tricks”, he said.
“In that moment I thought that I danced because I liked the spins. Now I dance out of passion, because I have it in my blood”, added Carvajal.
The Olympic spirit is new for them and they can already imagine what it would be like to be part of the biggest multisport event for high performance young athletes in the world.
“To compete at the Youth Olympic Games means a lot to me. It would be an award for the hard work I’ve been doing since I started and it would be a special way to evaluate my level with the rest of the world. It’s a great opportunity to make history”, said Kid Nachito, who trains for five hours daily. His mornings are spent on techniques and physical work, while in the afternoon he dances with different music.
Carvajal, or BBoy Broly, has his eyes set on a gold medal.
“To compete at Buenos Aires 2018 would be an enormous step in my profession as a break-boy. To compete in an event like the Youth Olympic Games would be a true dream and obviously my goal would be to win a gold medal”, he said.
Next May, from the 19th to the 20th, Tokyo will be the site of the World Youth Breaking Championship where the quotas for Buenos Aires 2018 will be defined. How are the Argentines preparing?
“I still don’t have the means to travel but my family and I are looking into it. Also, a few weeks ago someone stopped by my house to give me money”, explained Paredes.
“We are doing some activities with my dance group, family and coach to raise funds”, said Gonzalez.
Ignacio Mercado said he is already planning his trip to Japan while they look for funds to finance his participation in the tournament.
Mariano Carvajal can’t imagine miss the opportunity to show off his skills at the competition in Asia. “I’m definitely going”, he said.
Based on hip-hop culture, breakings’ popularity has grown exponentially in the last decade. This style of urban dance originated in the mid-1970s in the Bronx, one of New York City’s five boroughs.
At that time the breaking innovators were young African Americans and Puerto Ricans. Nowadays the love and mass following of the dance has spread throughout the world, resulting in its debut appearance at the Youth Olympic Games this October.
During the next summer edition of the Youth Olympic Games there will be 24 of the top young breakers in the world ready to show their talent to the crowds at Urban Park, the site of the competition.
Each competitor will face an opponent in a battle to win over the crowd and get points from the judges, which will consist in a set number of rounds. In each round a participant or team will dance first and the other will respond. There will also be a mixed team contest, which will include two breakers from different National Olympic Committees.
Whether it’s in the individual or team competition, each round will be judged by five judges and two referees – known as head judges – and will be evaluated on the basis of six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, performance and musicalization.