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Street Diaries

While across India,b-girls are far and few in number as compared to b-boys,the scene in the Capital is even worse. Talk finds out why.

Written by Pallavi Chattopadhyay | Published: September 14, 2012 2:23:56 am

While across India,b-girls are far and few in number as compared to b-boys,the scene in the Capital 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 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 Delhi’s 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 recently,the number of b-girls is considerably lower as compared 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 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 in 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 there’s more participation of girls. In Delhi,on the other hand,it’s just a street form,” explains He ra.

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 power moves. A member of the Roc Fresh dance crew in Mumbai,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 AmB,in a disheartened tone.

While He ra believes that the idea of Mumbai being more liberal than Delhi has nothing to do with the huge gap in the number of b-girls between the two cities,Delhi-based Neha Chowdhury — an up-and coming b-girl — begs to differ. “My neighbours used to tell me that I was wasting my time. I have heard several boys talk about b-boying,but no girls ever aspire to be b-girls. The society’s outlook has a role to play in this,” she says.

But Mumbai-based Sagar Naidu aka b-boy Nevermind 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 that 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 much-awaited UK B-boy Championship India Showcase,which is set to take place in Delhi next week.

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