South Africa’s lone break dancing star aiming for BA2018

2017-11-03 13:36:57


The day DanceSport was added to the programme for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) transformed 16-year-old South African Jordan Smith’s life.

“If I make the YOG it will be the biggest achievement of my life so far.”

“I have never participated in sports at school or done extra-curricular activities because I have been dancing and no one has ever understood that until now, now that it’s an (youth) Olympic sport,” Smith said.

“I realised I would be acknowledged, people would recognise my passion at school and in my community. They would understand why I was doing it, how hard it is and that it’s not just a thing you do, it is a lot of practise and time dedicated.”

Dedication is indeed the word. Smith has been dancing in his native Johannesburg since he was taken to a studio with his sisters at the age of five.

Eleven years later he emerged as one of 20 qualifiers from the World DanceSport Federation’s (WDSF) Europe and African qualifier hosted in Essen, Germany in October. He is the sole African representative to be heading to the third and final stage of qualifying, the 2018 World Youth Breaking Championships in Kawasaki, Japan.

The teenager’s passion for break dancing (‘breaking’ to those in the know) is both intoxicating and infectious.

“I love it because you get to express yourself and show your creativity and the way you perceive the moves and flows,” he explained. “And I also like it because it is an exchange of moves and flows with other people.

“Every day I will practise in my garage, whether it is the most basic moves or something elaborate.”

Based on hip-hop culture, breaking’s popularity is growing exponentially, with 24 of the world’s best male and female 16-18-year-old exponents set to showcase their talent in Buenos Aires next year. Each competitor will face-off against an opponent in a battle for the crowd’s affection and the judges’ points.

“I really love battling more than anything else because it is very personal and it’s very raw - that is really what gets me, the rawness of it,” Smith said.

“It is called a battle for a reason. There is obviously a certain type of vibe but I take it more as an exchange rather than a fight for the win. If he comes in with a move, I will exchange it for something else. At the end of the day we are all b-boys and I am happy to be there, happy to battle.”

This sense of acknowledgement and acceptance is at the heart of the sport.

“There is a lot of respect for everyone and it takes care of its community,” Smith explained. “You see people battling and smashing the floor and then you see them after and they are best friends who help each other improve, which I think is really cool.”

Smith, who only focused on breaking three years ago once the “bug” caught him, was overwhelmed to be competing with some of the very best in Germany in October.

“It was an honour just to be there, never mind to compete, just to see the European vibe of breaking,” he said. “Those are the people I aspire to, I look up on YouTube and follow on Instagram - then I am standing next to them and battling against them.”

Next stop: beat said heroes and secure a place at the 2018 YOG.

“I have a lot of creativity and I have a lot of style, what I am lacking is power which a lot of Europeans and Asians have, so I am going to focus on that,” he said. “I’ll try to bring the South African culture and style.

“If I make the YOG it will be the biggest achievement of my life so far.”

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