Type into your search engine: airflare.
It’s a highly complex breaking move, and it's currently what Dutch Youth Olympian Bgirl Vicky is trying to master.
“I’m still learning it,” the 19-year-old shares, speaking with Olympics.com. “It’s like sort of a handstand with a jump in your handstand… Yeah, it’s really difficult to explain.”
Tricks – such as airflare – are just one of the components that make up a breaking routine.
There is also footwork and top work, which when thrown together in an improvisational manner along to music, makes breaking the very energetic and intimately expressive dance sport that it is.
“You’re free to do what you want. It’s not like you have to follow one pattern," Vicky says, explaining why she loves being a breaker.
“That is also the beauty of it. In all sports there are things you have to do or things you can’t do. You can’t really experiment at sports but with breaking you can – you can put your hand in a different pose and then all of a sudden you have a whole different move.”
“You can do what you want.”
The transformative power of breaking
The freedom that Bgirl Vicky finds in breaking, in a way, also reflects what drew her into the sport, and why she quickly rose up through its ranks.
Her family's farm in Gastel, Netherlands, where she grew up, is a far cry from the innovative, urban scene usually associated with breaking.
“Somebody at school said, ‘Do you want to go to a dance class with me?’ I said, ‘Yeah, OK, I will join you.’ I was like eight or nine or something,” Vicky recalls, remembering the moment her life changed.
“And so, I did that. And then after a half a year we had a little show and that’s when I saw breaking, and I never stopped.”
Seeing it performed live for the first time, she was entranced by the fluid movements, flair, and all the infinite possibilities that came with it:
“If you want to do top work, you can do top work and if you want to do footwork, you can do footwork. And if you want to do tricks, you can do it.”
As Bgirl Vicky became addicted to her sport – learning and growing – soon opportunities emerged outside of her town. It meant having to leave, which she was all too eager to do. Her parents, however, took a little longer to understand what kind of journey their daughter was embarking on:
“When I was little, I only knew my own village… I never went anywhere else because everything was here.”
“But when I started breaking everything became a lot further away – so they [parents] needed to adjust to that at the beginning.”
“’Oh,’” her parents would say to her, “‘You’re going to go away with only boys? And so far away?’ They didn’t really like that, but when they met the boy they were then like: ‘Go – we trust you.’”
The reality is, in breaking, much fewer women compete than men, and that is something the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) qualifier knows all too well. Though, when it comes down to it, she doesn’t mind her reality all too much:
“For me it [breaking] is not different with boys. I just do it and I don’t care if I have to compete against a woman or a boy, or a man.”
“I think that’s because when I started, I was the only girl, and I still am most of the time. So for me, there's not really a difference.”
Belonging and self-discovery
What captured the hearts and minds of audiences watching on was not just the slick tricks and grabs the skateboarders were effortlessly making, but the way the competitors rallied for each other on the sides.
The event didn't resemble the traditional kind of contest where opponent dared not to look their rivals in the eyes, but rather, it was a competition with a supportive, community feel.
“It’s actually exactly the same,” Vicky says, on whether breaking shares that in common with skateboarding.
“In the battle you’re rivals but after this, and before that, you’re just one big group of friends.”
That encouraging environment where breakers are there for one another before and after battle helped Vicky tackle her initial anxieties:
“At the beginning, I really didn’t want to compete because I was just scared to go on stage and do what I always do. I love to do it but at the beginning I was so afraid I would mess up, or something.”
“But if you compete for a while, you notice that if you mess up, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t really matter if something goes wrong or right. Always after, people are going to you and saying, ‘well done’.”
And that’s just one benefit of breaking’s embracing feel.
The other is the collaborative and inclusive nature of the sport, and the way that can lead to self-discovery:
“You’ll go to try something,” Bgirl Vicky explains, “or a trainer says something or one of the older Bboys that you’re with says, ‘put your hand there’, or ‘put your foot there’ and then you discover a whole new trick that you never thought you could do.”
Although that all sounds physically quite demanding, the bright breaking talent insists that her sport doesn’t have to be:
“You don’t really have to be strong or flexible because if you don’t want to do all those tricks you can just say ‘OK, I’m only going to do footwork or top work’ and then you don’t have to be flexible or strong. Actually, everybody can do breakdance.”
Preparing for Paris 2024
Competing again in an Olympic event is something the Dutch athlete is already focused on.
“When I was little, I always wanted to be at the Olympics, but I always thought I’m never going to be because breaking is not at the Olympics.”
Now, there is an opportunity for her to finally realise her childhood dream and showcase her abilities to the world on sport’s biggest stage.