This question has been used to describe any activity. It’s an umbrella term for all of these dances — many of them are quite complicated. But here’s one to put all “stretching” in one place. First, think back to some of the first uses of the concept.
“When we first started dancing we didn’t make that very simple mistake where it’s called dancing,” says James Denny, a choreographer at the American Ballet Theater. “We called it ‘juggling’ or ‘jogging’.” “We made fun of, I think, an audience who thought it was so simple and that it was funny.”
In other words, “breezy,” or “quick” was a way to describe that, too. But “breakdancing,” as the act of breaking the surface of a surface, was created on purpose the moment ballet was invented.
So, why do breakdancers like it so much?
It began as a way to break down barriers in a world that may never quite fit together.
“The idea of dancing on a mat and holding hands with your partner and holding hands on a mat, and jumping across a floor, or leaping with a partner and jumping across a stage was a huge event here in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and there was no equivalent in our society,” says Denny. “A breakdancer was an outsider and a novelty.”
Break dancing, which has been around for thousands of years, was a sign of defiance against that outsider status. “This was an era when there was a lot of pressure around how to respond to poverty, and a lot of ideas about how to move up the socioeconomic ladder … in a way it gave women a way to protest and be able to express themselves by their own means,” Denny says.
So breakdancing was, then, a way for women to express that in their own way. The movement began with a simple phrase: “breeze.”
Image courtesy of the Breakdancers Union of America. (Wikimedia Commons)
To this day, the act of dancing on a mat or floor is called “breeze.” The term “breakdancing,” as in “breezy,” began to appear in dance textbooks at least as late as 1965.
“That term is part of the mythology of break dancing, so it’s a term that’s used in the
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