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The future of breakdance in the most important tournament in the world

The new generation of urban dance at BOTY 2021 with the crew of Nike and Snipes

The future of breakdance in the most important tournament in the world The new generation of urban dance at BOTY 2021 with the crew of Nike and Snipes
Alessandro Bigi

There was a particular energy at this year's edition of BOTY, the Battle of the Year in Montpellier, a breakdance tournament that, born in 1990 with the name of International Breakdance Cup has grown over the years to become the equivalent of the World Cup for the world of urban dance. Crews from all over the world gather every year in Montpellier to compete – and in the final of the tournament, held last Sunday, all the energy accumulated during a difficult year like 2020 came out on stage in which, as Flaminia Genoese, Italian dancer interviewed by nss magazine told us «has been very hard for all performers». An edition, that of BOTY 2021, which was not only an outlet for hundreds of breakdancers from all over the world, but also an opportunity to reflect on how the discipline and culture of urban dance have evolved in recent years and through different generations. When we asked Flaminia, who among other things was the first Italian dancer to teach in Los Angeles, what was the biggest difference between hers and the new generations of dancers she answered without a doubt: «Technology. This year we felt the new media erupted on our scene. Young people want views, contents, to go viral on TikTok». 

To unite old and new generations «driven to be in a hurry from the time they were born» however, the love for dance always remains - a love that, through the mentoring of the most experienced dancers, builds a bridge through those who twenty years ago had to go to the USA to learn and those who today learn through new digital media. Mentoring was in fact the basis of the team's performance brought to BOTY 2021 by Nike and Snipes, as part of the creative platform Own the Floor, created precisely to push forward to these new generations, represented on stage by 13-year-old Dutch Ida Marie Robin Zwartkruis, aka FLEUR. For the competition, FLEUR demonstrated the full value of mentoring, learning from an international crew that, in addition to Flaminia Genoese, included among others Majid Kessab, Red Bull athlete and owner of AREA - Urban Dance Company; Karl Ruben Noel, aka Rubix, enfant prodige of urban dance and star of Stromae's video Papoutai; Anissa Essadouqi-Diallo, founder of the Ghetto Style Crew in Paris. 

The idea behind Own The Floor was to underline through the mentoring and performance of FLEUR the fundamental relationship that unites the world of urban dance to the culture of sneakers. A relationship that has made the history of Nike itself and that dates back to 1983, the year in which the Air Force 1 appeared on the scene conquering the nascent hip-hop scene that animated the streets of Harlem, Philadelphia and Chicago. For the world of breakdance, the sneaker was not just a simple status symbol linked to NBA myths such as Moses Malone or Jamal Wilkees but a fundamental tool to practice the discipline. Many of Nike's most popular sneakers such as the Air Force 1, called Uptown in the 80s, or the historic Blazer of '73, the target audience was the world of basketball and therefore were designed for the performance of athletes. The world of hip-hop and breakdantic managed not only to expand that heritage immensely but ended up appropriating it almost entirely, with rappers and dancers who, after the NBA stars, became the main faces of the new cultural scene. Ultimately, sneakers fueled the success of urban dance thanks to their nature as a democratic and transversal athletic product, a role that in the following years continued to evolve leading them to become the symbol par excellence of streetwear during its entry into the world of fashion and luxury.

This continuity, which links the 80s sneakers to those of today, but which also links the OG generations of breakdancers with the new ones, was perhaps the brightest element of FLEUR's performance last Sunday – technique aside, of course. An element that however reconnects the importance of mentoring to the universal nature shared by the two parallel cultures of sneakers and dance and their ability to bring together under one roof, literal and metaphorical, people from all over the world and of all ages. Just the performance of FLEUR, which you can see in the video below, wanted to be a representation of this unity, incorporating the different styles of all its masters.