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The two women appointed to the World DanceSport Federation’s Breaking Division are set to play pivotal roles in the build-up to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Mary Fogarty of Canada, a practicing b-girl who is internationally acclaimed for her scholarship on Breaking communities and an academic writing on dance, is the WDSF Breaking Division’s new Welfare Advisor.
Nicole Binggeli, a board member and key figure in the development of the Swiss Breaking Federation, has been named as a Breaking Division Judging System Advisor.
The WDSF appointments underline the federation’s commitment to increasing gender equality on its Breaking committee, the body responsible for the development of Olympic Breaking in the lead up to and including Paris 2024.
The move will be welcomed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) amid its concerted push towards gender parity across international sports federations.
In her role, Fogarty will ensure that athletes are protected when attending WDSF events.
“I am here to listen to the concerns of dancers as they emerge throughout this novel process,” said Fogarty, who was also recently appointed to Canada DanceSport’s Breaking Committee. “I intend to be a first point of contact for dancers at events and to provide them with support and guidance for any critical incidents.”
Asked what it meant to be appointed alongside Binggeli, she said: “This demonstrates the federation's commitment to take the concerns of dancers seriously.
“Nicole has been an active contributor to the scene, so is well versed in the politics and challenges of being a woman in hip hop dance spaces.
“As a Breaking community, we have had strong woman leaders since the earliest days of the dance, and with notable dancers such as Rokafella, Honey Rockwell and Asia One, to name just a few.
“We have women that have always strongly represented the voices of women of colour in the scene and I look forward to seeing that representation shine through at the Olympics.”
Asked about the challenges for the WDSF’s new Breaking Division ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics, Fogarty said: “The global Breaking scene has a lot of new ideas to grapple with in the lead up to the Olympic moment.
“This moment requires new strategies as well as the guidance of older dancers who have been through the waves of popularity in this art form,” she said.
“My personal goal is to advocate for the rights of dancers, to support the development of talent, and to contribute perspectives that reflect the diversity, activism, artistic expression and fire that have made this dance form thrive in adverse conditions.”
In her role, Binggeli will coordinate and help at events or remotely, advising organisers how to manage the WDSF’s two judging systems: Threefold and Trivium. Trivium will be used at the WDSF World Championships and Paris Olympics, with Threefold at all others.
Binggeli will be looking to contribute in a number of ways to pave the way for Breaking’s Olympic debut.
“We want to support, give technical assistance and transfer the know-how in judging,” she said. “We want to contribute to transparent and modern judging for fair results.”
She said judges required more tools and support to do their job properly. Bringing judges and technical officials up to speed on the complexities of the Trivium system over the coming three years was important. “We need to be able to show transparency about judging.”
Commenting on the WDSF’s push for more women in top positions Binggeli said: “Diversity, equality and inclusion is self-evident in a modern world.”
With three years to develop the sport of Olympic Breaking and fine-tune governance structures, the WDSF is poised to grow the global profile of the dance discipline and increase participation among the younger generation.
Binggeli said Paris 2024 offers huge opportunities for Breaking in line with the IOC’s key objectives to widen the appeal of the Olympics.
“It’s an exciting time for Breaking. As it becomes more visible and popular, it builds new opportunities and there’s more respect for what it is. It’s a great chance for a new generation to develop DanceSport and art in different ways,” she added.
Fogarty is relishing the prospect of seeing her sport on the biggest global sporting stage.
“Paris is a great choice for Breaking’s emergence at the Olympics,” she said.
“The French public and government have long seen the potential of this art form and provided more support than many other countries.
“I hope that DanceSport and the WDSF listen to the voices of b-boys and b-girls who have long advocated for and challenged arts and sports structures to take seriously this art form by its own aesthetics and the amount of attention breakers have paid to the significance of dance in transforming people's lives,” she added.
“I hope there is a fruitful synergy and we can present the form for what it is – one of the most exciting dance artforms of our times – and through presenting it to ask questions about decolonizing art, speaking from the margins of society, and questioning everything to make a better world.”