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Breaking new ground

Young people from lower and middle-class homes in Delhi and Mumbai are turning to breakdance for a career, report Meher Ali and Purva Mehra.

delhi Updated: Nov 28, 2009 22:51 IST
Meher Ali and Purva Mehra

This July, Bharat Rajodiya, 20, took seven cardboard boxes used to store detergent from his father’s general store, cut them up, and flattened them to create a makeshift floor on which he could practice breakdancing without hurting himself.

“His father sold the boxes to the raddiwala (scrap dealer) ,” laughs Bharat’s mother, Lata Rajodiya.

Bharat is just one of the many youngsters from the middle-class neighbourhoods of Delhi and Mumbai, who are finding expression in breakdance, the original hip-hop dance style.

Breakdance or b-boying started in the mid-1970s in the Brooklyn and Bronx areas of New York, when DJ Kool Herc, the ‘father of Hip-Hop’ noticed people waiting for a particular part of a record to dance. He decided to play a collection of these “breaks” or parts of a particular record, together. The term ‘breakdancing’, originated from this ‘experiment’.

In India, especially in Delhi and Mumbai, breakdancing seems to be finding favour amongst kids from lower and middle class families. Most of these breakdancers or b-boys and b-girls come from the slum areas, says Bharat.

And many of them are now keen to take it up as a career. Bharat, for instance, is pursuing a Bachelors in Computer Applications, but says that he spends more time breaking than studying.

Ambarin Kadri , 22, one of the only b-girls in Mumbai’s Freak N Stylz, a group of b-boys, says she decided on taking it up as a career in her final year of college.

But support from the families is obviously hard to come by. Ambarin says initially her parents were “scared” because they thought she would go into “Bollywood dancing”.

Delhi-based Netarpal Singh, 27, who learnt breaking in New York says he plans to start holding classes in the city. But his parents who belong to a village near Amritsar, want him to complete his studies instead.

But despite the opposition, the

breakers continue to remain passionate to their art. Part of the appeal, seemingly, lies in the free-style nature of breaking. Delhi-based b-boy Prince, 24, says, “People usually use their legs to dance, but here, you can spin on your head and hands.”

Basically, there are four types of b-boying, which take upto six months to master. Top rock involves hoisting your feet in the air, there’s footwork, freezes and power moves, where you twist and turn your body on the strength of your arms.

But with no real legacy of breaking in India, b-boys such as Mumbai’s Paritosh Parmar, 21, have gone through the drill of YouTube tutorials to get the moves right. Alternatively, they also turn to Hollywood films such as You Got Served and Step Up 2. “The moves feel like stunts and I am hooked to the rush,” admits Paritosh.

And then there’s the lure of Bollywood as well. “We need to make the money but also observe the code of pure b-boying,” Paritosh says.