Incredible rhythms, fancy footwork, talented dancers, heart-pumping battles—all this makes up breaking, a form of dancing that combines complex moves with stylized dance.
Born in the Bronx’s Black and Latino communities, breaking first originated in the ’70s at the start of the hip-hop movement. The name refers to the breakbeats that defined hip-hop’s early sound and gave dancers a chance to show off their moves. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, dance crews formed and competed against each other, introducing new techniques like the headspin, freeze, and top rock.
Music is a critical part of breaking, and the DJs that helm the turntables often mix in elements of hip-hop, jazz, disco, electro, and more to create a compelling track for the dancers, known as b-boys and b-girls, to move to.
In the early ’80s, breaking gained momentum in Brazil, providing a new way for the country’s youth to connect and interact. To this day on the streets of São Paulo, dance battles ensue as b-boys and b-girls compete to see who has the best moves.
In 2024, breaking will make its Olympic debut in Paris, and Brazil is preparing for the Games. The Brazil national team is composed of six talented breaking stars: Leony, Luan San, Rato, Toquinha, Mini Japa, and Nathana. While they train, Spotify is with them every step of the way as a team sponsor. In addition to supporting events in the breaking community, we are providing financial aid for the team as they compete at national and international events, as well as financial support for the athletes in their training.
For the Record caught up with team members Leony and Toquinha to learn more about breaking and where they see the future of the sport.
What’s your favorite part about breaking?
Leony: The part that I love the most is the freedom within breaking—the freedom of being able to do everything in my own time, to do whatever I create in my own way, to be and do what I imagine with my breaking.
Toquinha: The best part of breaking for me is the passion in people’s eyes and the adrenaline of the battles!
Is there a particular song or artist you like to break to?
Leony: I’m a fan of A Tribe Called Quest. I think they are the best rap group ever.
A lot of improvisation is required to be good at breaking. What else do you think is essential to excel at the sport?
Leony: You have to have personality and be original. Being “unique” in breaking is for sure one of the hardest and most valuable things.
Toquinha: To stand out in breaking, you need to have style and a lot of flow. I believe that persistence in training is the key to unlocking what your body can achieve.
What was your reaction when you learned that breaking would become an Olympic sport?
Leony: I was happy. I knew this would boost the popularity of breaking in the world, and that’s what happened.
Toquinha: When I heard that breaking will be in the Olympics, I was excited, anxious, and motivated to train more!
The Olympics will surely help grow understanding and knowledge of breaking. What else do you hope for the future of the sport?
Leony: I hope that with all this exposure, we can reach more people and more places.
Toquinha: Since breaking has become a part of the Olympics, it has opened a lot of doors for me and also for the rest of the world. I train and dedicate myself so that things will be easier for future generations!
What’s it been like having the support of Spotify as the team embarks on this journey?
Leony: It’s been amazing, not only for us as members of the team but for national breaking. Breaking and music are inseparable, and having a company like Spotify helping to spread breaking in Brazil has undoubtedly helped a lot. This gives us recognition and the hope to achieve more.
Toquinha: For me, it was amazing to receive Spotify’s sponsorship proposal. It’s uncanny how much breaking and Spotify really go well together!