The Birth of Breaking

The Birth of Breaking

The untold story of how breaking - one of the most widely practiced dance forms in the world today - began as a distinctly African American expression in the Bronx, New York, during the 1970s.

Breaking is the first and most widely practiced hip-hop dance in the world, with around one million participants in this dynamic, multifaceted artform - and, as of 2024, Olympic sport. Yet, despite its global reach and nearly 50-year history, stories of breaking's origins have largely neglected the African Americans who founded it. Dancer and scholar Serouj "Midus" Aprahamian offers, for the first time, a detailed look into the African American beginnings of breaking in the Bronx, New York.

The Birth of Breaking challenges numerous myths and misconceptions that have permeated studies of hip-hop's evolution, considering the influence breaking has had on hip-hop culture. Including previously unseen archival material, interviews, and detailed depictions of the dance at its outset, this book brings to life this buried history, with a particular focus on the early development of the dance, the institutional settings where hip-hop was conceived, and the movement's impact on sociocultural conditions in New York City throughout the 1970s.

By featuring the overlooked first-hand accounts of over 50 founding b-boys and b-girls alongside movement analysis informed by his embodied knowledge of the dance, Aprahamian reveals how indebted breaking is to African American culture, as well as the disturbing factors behind its historical erasure.

Publication Date: 
July 27, 2023