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An Interview with FFDanse President Charles Ferreira 19/07/2021

C Ferreira

Charles Ferreira, President of the Fédération Française de Danse (FFDanse), was recently named to the Board of Directors at the Comité National Olympique et Sportif Français (CNOSF), an extremely positive development for DanceSport in the lead-up to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, where Breaking will be making its Olympic debut.

The CNOSF is the French representative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is the umbrella body for all the French sport federations, of which there are currently 108.

“My main mission within the Board will be above all to work in accordance with the Olympic Charter and to implement the policy for which we were elected in close collaboration with the Organising Committee for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” Ferreira says.

Ferreira, whose term on Board is for the 2021-2024 period, says the appointment is an honour both for himself and DanceSport, but warns that a great deal is left to be done both in the lead up to the Olympic Games in 2024 and for DanceSport more generally, both in France and globally.

The World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) recently caught up with President Ferreira to get his thoughts about his appointment, the status of DanceSport in France, and Breaking’s inclusion at Paris 2024.

Q: How important is it for you, the Fédération Française de Danse, and for DanceSport in general to be represented on the Board during the 2021-2024 period?

A: First of all, it’s a mark of confidence and a symbol that dance is a recognized discipline and completely integrated into the French sports movement. Beyond my election it is for dance, the WDSF and all of its members a great recognition taking into account the entry of dance, in particular Breaking at Paris 2024. But beware: a lot of work remains to be done to perpetuate dance, Breaking as an Olympic sport. Nothing is won.

Q: What measures have you and the FFD implemented to federate breaking in France and put in place the federal structures to support the preparation of elite breakers in anticipation of Paris 2024?

A: We started by trusting the specialists in the discipline by bringing them together in a Breaking Commission. We associated them with the highest federal authorities. Secondly, we asked the sports ministry for High Level status, which contributed to substantial financial aid and human resources seconded by the sports ministry to the FFDanse, help with which we were able to set up with the Breaking Commission.

It included organization and sports support for the discipline (travel costs to international competitions, regional selections, creation of a diploma recognized by the state, technical training courses fully supported by the FFDanse within the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance, etc. We have worked and invested a lot financially in supporting Breaking since the selections in 2017 for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

The discipline coordinator and trainer comes from the Breaking community and an employee of the sports ministry – this is a choice that symbolizes the relationship of trust between the movement and the FFDanse.

Q: What initiatives have you taken to further develop Breaking in France?

A: In parallel with sports actions, we have set up socio-professional support with significant financial contracts signed between private partners, b-boys and b-girls, as well as financial assistance to help dancers in their sports projects, and financial assistance granted by the CNOSF.

Q: How successful has your Federation been in reaching out to the Breaking community and working hand in hand with them in the lead up to Paris 2024?

A: The community – and this is very understandable – was afraid of being dispossessed of its discipline, its culture. Our first job was to respect their culture, the work that has been produced by this community for more than 40 years, and to show the advantages offered to them by the sports movement and the entry of the discipline at Paris 2024.

Q: Do you have any advice in this regard for other WDSF NMBs who are perhaps looking to do similar work but may not know where to begin?

A: The functioning of this discipline and the young people who practice it have shaken up our way of seeing the organization of traditional disciplines within our federation. We have had to question ourselves that we are helping us to get closer to the youth, to social networks, and to better understand the new economic, societal, artistic and of course sporting challenges of our society.

If I have any advice: stay open, respect hip-hop culture, respect the actors and share with them.

Q: With Paris 2024 only three years away, the focus is clearly on Breaking and organizing the best possible competition at the Olympic Games. But how important is it for you to give a stronger voice to Standard and Latin as well via the CONSF Board and the important contacts you will continue to make?

A: My election to the CNOSF will promote the place of dance and in particular Standard and Latin dances, which are my discipline at heart because I have practiced Latin dances in competitions, I was a pair coach, judge, I directed several dance schools for 33 years and I have been in Latin and Standard dances for 40 years.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that the development of dance, in particular Latin and Standard, FFDanse and WDSF will necessarily go through the development of all dances. For me, Standard and Latin dances remain one of the most beautiful dance disciplines and the openness created by Breaking at the Olympic Games can, I am sure, favour the entry of Latin and Standard dances into the list of Olympic disciplines. This is the message that I will pass on during our discussions to my colleagues on the Board of Directors even if they are already convinced of it.

Q: Finally, what in your mind are the biggest challenges that still need to be tackled between now and the summer of 2024 in terms of Breaking’s Olympic debut? How can they be overcome? And what are your predictions for Breaking at Paris 2024?

A: The biggest challenge for me remains 2022 -- the date on which the IOC and the Los Angeles Games Organizing Committee will decide whether or not to keep Breaking on the list of Olympic sports. For 2024, I think that the Olympic Games will be exceptional. The FFDanse and the WDSF will work together to deliver a great competition in an already chosen place, which will be the Place de la Concorde at the end of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The Organizing Committee for 2024 is counting a lot on the WDSF so that this competition, which will be historic anyway, a worldwide event, will forever mark the history of dance and the WDSF.