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Interest in Breaking has seen a sharp increase worldwide since its provisional inclusion on the program for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
One person who saw significant potential in Breaking years before its Olympic affiliations was WDSF Athletes’ Commission Member Moises Rivas, aka b-boy Moy. With his successful Break Free Hip-Hop Schools, mentoring programs, global competitions and much more, Moy now stands at the forefront with those attempting to elevate the DanceSport discipline to greater heights.
Moy founded his first Break Free Hip-Hop School in Houston, Texas back in 2011 to give young people in the community a place where they could freely express themselves as individuals, become goal oriented, and learn about the positivity of hip-hop culture through Breaking, DJ’ing, art and poetry. All lessons that he himself learned growing up that allowed him to get off the streets and build a solid career as a successful Breaker.
Since 2011, Moy has seen his one school grow into five, the most recent of which opened in Phoenix, Arizona on 1 October. His aim is to have 100 schools in operation globally by the time the flame is lit to start the Olympic Games in Paris in four years’ time.
That’s a lofty goal for any company, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, which has hurt businesses across the board, especially those in sports and the arts. But Moy is undeterred, explaining that he is currently in talks with potential partners in Belgium, Chile, Japan, Ukraine, other cities in the United States, among others.
“It’s been difficult with the pandemic but we’re constantly trying to evolutionize how Breaking is perceived,” he says. “It’s from the street but at the same time it’s provided a career path for myself and many others in the Breaking community, so why can’t we build a stronger platform that is motivated by us inspiring b-boys and b-girls that want to pursue this at a higher level? And especially with Breaking potentially moving into the Olympics in Paris 2024 and beyond, I think it’s important for us to professionalize and take everything to another level.”
Breaking will be handed its Olympic fate this December when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes its final vote on whether the DanceSport discipline makes the grade for Paris 2024 or not.
But like most people in the community, Moy is not sitting around doing nothing in the meantime. Quite the contrary. In addition to opening up his fifth school, he has also been busy putting the final touches on what will be his third major online Breaking competition of 2020, with a fourth (and bigger still) slated to take place in December.
“COVID-19 really sparked us to do something quickly due to the stoppage of all events. There was definitely not anything going to be happening in 2020 otherwise [without going online],” Moy says. “So we didn’t want to stop the momentum that Breaking had and we thought it was important for Break Free to make this investment to be able to showcase to people at the WDSF, to people at the IOC, to people in the community, that regardless of what we’re going through, we should still find a way to continue.
“We wanted to showcase that we are able to connect even in the time of need.”
And connect they have. The first two Break Free Worldwide events held online in April and July each featured between 400 and 500 Breakers from countries around the world. The multiple days of competition were viewed in 75 countries and over 300 cities each, with over 2 million impressions achieved globally.
So things clearly bode well for Moy’s latest project, called the SURVIV-ILL Championship. Set to take place this weekend (9-11 October), SURVIV-ILL is being billed as “the essence of a raw battle brought to the competitive stage. Unlimited rounds – a test of strength, stamina and style.”
“Last year during our Break Free Activation Day, people went bananas over [the new format],” Moy says. “They loved it. They loved the entertainment side of it, they loved the sport side of it, they loved the challenge side of it. So people asked for it and that’s why we’re bringing it back.”
The SURVIV-ILL Championship will feature 64 b-boys and 64 b-girls battling it out in a regular, two-round format until the semifinals, when those rules are then tossed out the window. From the semis on it will be a knock-down, drag-out battle to the finish with unlimited rounds. The only way a Breaker can lose is if they give up or two of the three judges throw in their towels.
“The beauty of this event is that you have to be built to last. You have to be strategic about your moves, about your breathing, etc.,” Moy says. “It’s really entertaining, and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. It definitely takes a toll on the body.”
One of the more compelling components of all Break Free activities is the focus on inclusivity and opportunity. Unlike other Breaking events, SURVIV-ILL will see a total of 128 b-boys and b-girls competing, far more than the usual 64, 32 or 16. Moy has instilled this openness in Break Free since 2011 and he continues to look for ways to open doors for young people to learn about hip hop culture and widen their horizons in the process.
“Right now, a lot of kids growing up want to play basketball, baseball, soccer, baseball. But maybe they're also looking for something different,” Moy says. “And this is why I do what I do. Because when I was younger, I was looking for a way to get involved without being expressive in words, but through action, and Breaking allowed for that.
“The heart and soul of Break Free,” Moy concludes, “is in building up the Breaking community. We provide positive reinforcement for positive alternatives.”
For more information, go to the Break Free Worldwide website.