While across India,b-girls are far and few in number as compared to b-boys,the scene in Pune is even worse. Talk finds out why
By the time Delhi-based Shilpa Thapa turned 15,she had embraced the gait and grace of a Bharatanatyam dancer and the oomph factor of a salsa dancer. However,once she watched a group of b-boys flaunt their hip hop and breaking moves,she decided to take on the challenge. Thapa decided to train under He ra,one of Delhis most respected b-boys. Now,the 17-year-old is known as b-girl Shellza.
Although street culture – comprising graffiti art,b-boys and hip hop tunes – has become prominent in India in the recent years,the number of b-girls is considerably lower in comparison to that of b-boys. Shellza recalls the number of times she sprained her knees,hurt her neck and had sore fingers while practising. “That’s one of the reasons many girls stay away from b-boying. They are afraid to get hurt,” she says. He ra agrees and further adds,”Breaking requires immense power and includes difficult moves. It is easier for boys to adapt to this.”
Since 2010,when He ra started teaching the dance form in Delhi,close to 300 boys have trained under him. But question him about the number of b-girls he has taught,and he says,”Maybe 16-17. Most of them drift away.” The scenario is Mumbai is different,where there are more girls that comprise various b-boying crews. “In Mumbai,breaking is part of the college culture and children practise in studios. Most crews in Mumbai come from college campuses,hence more participation of girls. In Delhi,on the other hand,its a street form,” explains He ra.
Like Delhi,even Pune does not have too many b-girls. At Margram Dance Academy,b-boying is taught as a part of Hip-Hop classes but not as a different genre. The word ‘boying’ itself describes the vigorousness of the genre. For boys it complements their natural build up but for girls,the stunts are not suited to their natural build up,and that is a tough challenge. The basic hand-stand also involves proper weight management and strength of arm muscles,which is where the challenge lies for a girl, says Shilpa Danave,director of the dance institute.
For Shellza,the greatest challenges were battling against b-boys and also looking for inspiration in a girl,to give her the confidence that she could break the male stereotype attached to the genre. “There are very few b-girls in Delhi and back then,I had to look for a role model in Mumbai,” she says. This is when Ambarin Kadri aka b-girl AmB from Mumbai,came into the picture. Shellza was impressed with her stylish swagger and the power moves. A member of the Roc Fresh dance crew in Mumbai,b-girl AmB agrees the scenes in Delhi and Mumbai are different. One of the first Indian b-girls,the 25-year-old has travelled to Delhi a number of times to participate in breaking events called Cypherholics “I did not see any girls participating in Crank Dat 2.0 Bboying Solo Championship,which was held in Delhi last year. And this year too,only two girls participated,” says b-girl AmB,in a disheartened tone.
Mumbai-based b-boy Nevermind aka Sagar Naidu brings in the history of breaking in India to put things into context. “The fact that breaking started in Mumbai before it travelled to Pune and Delhi,is a big reason there are more b-girls in Mumbai. The culture is more established there,and hence,there is more exposure,” he reasons.
Shellza might be the exception and not the rule as far as b-girls are concerned but her role in putting the dance form on the global b-girling map is important. After all,she is one of the two b-girls who will participate in the qualifying round of the eagerly-awaited UK B-boy Championship India Showcase,which is set to take place next week in Delhi.