The paradoxes of breakdancing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


Although typically described as a form of dance, breakdancing (also referred to as 'breaking' or 'b-boying') is a culture with its own knowledge, language and hierarchies. Through years of commitment, individuals who learn breakdancing progressively learn the inherent language (and therefore knowledge) of the breakdancing culture. Through teaching the standard historicized moves of the distinct dance form, advanced breakers simultaneously teach novices (both male and female) how to speak and translate 'b-boying'. This transmission of knowledge can take place at collective training spots or online on video-hosting sites and forums. Dialects include a range of physical attributions such as body language, gestures, postures, movements and dance style, while also including dress, musicality and a distinct vernacular. These dialects exist through both global trends and local innovations and not only communicate an artistic concept, but also one's commitment to the culture and approach to the dance. The ability to translate these factors and respond accordingly places individuals accordingly in the contested hierarchies of authenticity and establishes parameters for exclusivity. The ability to translate in the breaking culture is therefore integral to being a b-boy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHumanity
Subtitle of host publicationthe Journal of the Newcastle-Macquarie Humanities Postgraduate Symposium
Place of PublicationNewscastle, NSW
PublisherThe University of Newcastle
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventNewMac 2012 : Metaphor, Translation, and Paradox - Newcastle, NSW
Duration: 25 Feb 201225 Feb 2012


ConferenceNewMac 2012 : Metaphor, Translation, and Paradox
CityNewcastle, NSW


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