Break dance, or "breaking," has always been nourished by migration since the late '60s, with the different ways of conceiving this dance between New Yorkers, Latinos, Europeans and Asians. The breakingthat was traditionally danced in the Bronx or Manhattan was never the same after dancers adopted the rhythms of salsa, DJing and found inspiration in the acrobatics of kung-fu movies.
Colombia is no exception to that rule: Every year, dozens of Venezuelan migrants arrive seeking to deconstruct their way of conceiving breaking. "I migrated to make art," says Alexander Roque, who arrived to Cali from Valencia, Venezuela.
Someone who engages in this art — and future Olympic sport — is known as a bboy or a bgirl, with the "b" referring to breaking.
Some breakdancers migrate specifically to improve their skills and create a community — a family — around hip hop culture to help them face their own migration process.
These bboys and bgirls are also part of an ongoing migration between groups. Medellín is considered by the bboys and bgirls as the capital of breaking. Flava and Spice, a Venezuelan crew led by Gabriel Arocha, won Bogotá's Hip Hop al Parque for the first time in 25 years this past summer.
Some of the group's members are also part of Chicos del Barrio, another break dance group formed by six Colombian breakingdancers and three Venezuelans bboys, Ibsen Jiménez, Jim 'Mighty Jake' Párraga and Joseph 'Afl' Azuaje.
According to several Venezuelan bboys and bgirls, xenophobia was something that also manifested itself in the world of hip hop in Colombia during the first years of migration, around 2017 and 2018.
However, that mindset has shifted. Nowadays, the ongoing migration is perceived as an exchange of knowledge and skills between bboys and bgirls to transcend as a competitive art and sport.
For bboys and bgirls, migration is not only physical, it is also an exchange of idiosyncrasies, dance steps, tricks and finding people they can relate to.
Estefania Mitre (she/her/ella) is a production assistant for social media who works with visual elements to amplify stories across platforms. She has experience reporting on culture, social justice and music.
Jaír Fernando Coll Rubiano
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