A Russian B-Boy Dreams of Gold

The inclusion of unconventional sports in future Olympics is creating a new breed of aspiring medalist. Sergey Chernyshev, a break dancer known as Bumblebee, is one of them.

Comments: 52

  1. This is one person who will not follow or watch the competition. I prefer competitive ballroom dancing.

  2. You will miss much. You should watch and enjoy both. And maybe see one night a tango slide onto the floor and to a tango break! Magnificent. Or a rhumba!

  3. @Shamrock Or at least dancing where the feet must touch the floor.

  4. The great art form of break dancing, to Russia from New York USA with love.

  5. Certainly more athletic than golf...

  6. In Moscow on a DARPA grant in 2001-2002 I got to know very well the hungry circus school students from all over Russia whose parent had paid the tuition but living costs were paid by carrying rolled up linoleum to unroll and perform break dancing. Superb break dancing, which as first really surprised me. I am not a good choreographer but old flames often asked me to help them, to pause an extra instant or reach and extend an extra 3” . So it was often easy to do that with these extraordinary, trained athletes. Just as a tight rope dancer has to ‘stumble’ to make you aware of what she is really doing, and music needs an instant of silence, so stillness or extension often helped them. They were so very fine. Although once they asked me “Ray, what is that huge fool doing with that huge smile on his face. What kind of world does he think this is?” I grinned. “Well, it is a world where he has enough money to travel thousands of miles for the fun of strolling with that beautiful Russian woman on his arm. That is why he is so happy.” They instantly understood and yet wondered. There is a world where hardship is not often encountered. In two fine years, I somehow lost my constant smile. It took me 8 years and grandchildren to regain it and the joy that goes with it. On many a day, as I listen to grandson write, speak, and dance a high level hip hop, I remember those Russian world best break dancers and hope they have acquired a sometimes easy smile.

  7. So what happens when they turn off the voltage in the floor?

  8. Ranks right up there with race walking and synchronized swimming. Both Olympic events to be sure along with Golf. Yes skill for sure and some beauty but Olympics is about faster, longer, higher: Athletics (aka track and field).

  9. @Brian Perhaps more skill and athleticism than those sports where juicing is so important to becoming in the top elite groups.

  10. Break dancing is an incredibly skillful sport. Look at what these dancers are doing with their bodies! They're like animated pretzels. No need for snobbery -- I will be tuning in to the Olympics for this, and I will be rooting for this talented вундеркинд. Go, Sergey!

  11. @Lex A Wonder Kid indeed! Go Bumblebee !

  12. art form or sport? if "...dance" is ok in the olys, then bring it on, jazz, ballet, square and line.

  13. My spin on break dancing being added as an Olympic sport is that it's fine provided that other kinds of dancing also are added as Olympic sports. In fact, ballet would seem to fit in quite nicely with gymnastics. But there is no legitimate reason why break dancing but not other forms of dancing should be added to the Olympics.

  14. It is great to see the Olympics Committee's decision to add break dancing to the competition. They should also add Wushu. By adding new sports, IOC can get more revenue and generate more TV viewership. It is all about the Benjamins!

  15. @sing kwok the olympics as they are should honest to god be abolished.

  16. I think its cool. Glad to see skateboarding and surfing will be included in Tokyo 2020.

  17. @Mike Well if those are in I suppose they need to include a pot smoking event too.

  18. Whatever the athleticism - and no doubt its substantial - still, there's something a bit faddish about break dancing. In fact, though it may be news back in the old USSR, it's already a bit passe here in the US. Then again, consider swing dancing, also breathtakingly athletic, though hardly of the moment. But I haven't heard anything about the inclusion of swing. If the Olympic committee is simply looking to program its competition with an eye toward youth appeal, well, that's fine. But I think they should be a bit more adventurous. Perhaps a different dance genre is focused on in each Olympics going forward. Ideally, there could also be a hybrid competition, in which dancers synthesize moves from different dance forms into something new and unique. Show me the dance artists who can combine break dancing with swing and I'll show you a captivated international audience.

  19. @Chris "Swing dancing" is "breathtakingly athletic"? How old are you?

  20. I am leery about the inclusion of activities that are based on subjective judgements instead of quantifiable results. They should be placed in a different competition.

  21. @Frank Casa You mean like dismounts in gymnastics, floor exercises, pommel horse routines, and diving skills where the position of the body, all going by in milliseconds, impresses the judges?

  22. @reid And artistic swimming and people dancing with ribbons. All very pretty and undoubtedly hard to do, but I don't see them as "Olympic" sports. But, I suppose that any controlled movement of the body that is not directed toward a practical purpose can be called a sport.

  23. While I have no objection to break dancing, it just seems odd to have it as a competitive sport. Break dancing is fun to watch, I am clueless as to its competitive aspect. I assume a set of movements would have to be created, which is fine, but it seems like break dancing came -- and went -- in the 1980s or so. Then again, Olympic "curling" bewilders me. I don't get it, and I never, ever hear about it, except at the Olympics. Nevertheless, if it draws a crowd, then who am I?

  24. @Mark91345 Yes, but I'm guessing you're a young(er) man who lives in LA. Not a 50+ Midwesterner who are the people that enjoy curling and slower, quieter things. If you retire at 50+ and move to the Midwest you will automatically enjoy curling. :)

  25. @Mark91345 Mark, your comment just shows that you find the inclusion in the Olympics of a sport with which you are unfamiliar to be bewildering. To the millions of people around the world, mostly in Northern countries, who curl, the inclusion of curling makes a lot more sense than the inclusion of some other sports. And for all I know there may also be a lot of break dancers around the world who are thrilled that their physical activity of choice will be featured at the Olympics. But I appreciate your generous perspective that your personal appreciation of a sport isn't the last word on it and wish that a lot of the commentators - and I will go out on a limb and guess that most are male and white - would also demonstrate that generous viewpoint and tone down their indignation. Really, their view of the relevance or appropriateness of inclusion is only that: their own person view and it is in no way authoritative.

  26. total joke. and the real, demanding athletic sport of squash which has global appeal still not recognized. the Olympics become more and more irrelevant each time around.

  27. @Earl Rogerson Hush - don't call them irrelevant until November 4, 2020.

  28. @Earl Rogerson If you are in NYC January 9-17, 2020, I encourage you to drop by Grand Central Station, where the week-long Tournament of Champions will be held. it is a professional squash tournament that sells out every year. The Manhattan Community Squash Center is set to open next month. The StreetSquash facility in Harlem is amazing. Please don't dismiss this growing sport. Unlike break dancing, people of all ages play it across the globe. It is played in both the PanAm and Commonwealth and ought to be in the Olympics. Thanks for reading.

  29. I'm surprised that Olympic break dancing is getting this much snark from critics. Two of the most popular Olympic sports - gymnastics and figure skating - combine art and athleticism through dance moves. The competitors are judged on both their technical proficiency and their artistic style. Break dancing would be a perfect fit. I think this snark is due in part to the gender of my fellow commenters. Almost everyone who has responded to this article is a man, but figure skating and gymnastics are more popular sports for women, both as fans and participants. There are more female stars than male stars. Female gymnasts perform with music, and rhythmic gymnastics is exclusive to women, and in both cases I think the sport is better for it. I'd wager that the idea of combining dance and sport, even through something as '80s as break dancing, would seem perfectly normal to most female viewers.

  30. @Murph I would go a step further than your theory. The disdain and snark that this sport will garner from critics is most likely because it comes from BLACK/LATINO American culture, from the "hoods" of New York City like the South Bronx and Brooklyn. I remember how in the 1980s and into the 1990s white people would say how "this breakdancing, hip hop thing is just a fad, it will pass like all things crass". How ironic, how it must BURN to not only see this culture still flourishing, but THRIVING internationally, in Russia, the Baltics, Korea, Israel and China!!!! Now its entering the Olympics?!?! What took it soo long?

  31. @Murph Yes I think men would say that golf is more of a sport than brake dancing. But it takes a lot more athleticism to do brake dancing than to play a game of golf. Example: Trump can play a game of golf, but brake dancing I don't think so and I would hate to see it if he could.

  32. Of all of the forms of dancing that could be added to the Olympics the only one that was chosen is a style that is dated and anachronistic and which historically has been associated with crime and gang violence. What's going to be the next Olympic sport? Speed graffiti?

  33. Wow, break dancing is still a thing? Is anyone else besides the Russians doing it? I mean it's fun and all but a sport? Look, if something is judged on artistic merit, it's not a sport regardless of how much athleticism is involved. In any real sport there are winners and losers based on something objective like a score or best time. Gymnastics, ice skating, diving, all nice to watch but not sports.

  34. Olympic sports that require a panel of judges to determine the winner are fatally flawed. But, I guess controversy is good for business? I’ll take track and field over these pseudo “sports” any day.

  35. And yet once again, squash is not an Olympic sport. Apparently, it's not about athleticism, it's about TV ratings and how the public wishes to be "entertained". Crying shame....

  36. Quite a departure from the original Olympics, in which the participants were nude. "Dance", no matter what kind, is an artistic endeavor, not an athletic competition. Can't wait for the next russian "innovation": speed graffiti.

  37. Nijinsky in three steps, legs straight and split fully, routinely landed 27’ away, without a sandpit nor fall. Don’t even try to say ballet is not athletic nor competitive. You don’t know men very well if you say that. Our egos love competition and showing off.

  38. So a “creative art form” is now a sport. Where do I find the rule book so I can better judge for myself which break “athletes” are the best...using only legal maneuvers, rather than using flashy but prohibited ones? No rule book? So it’s all subjective. Figure skating has rules but much of it is subjective and everyone knows all the rot and favoritism that goes on judging that (beautiful) sport. When judging a sport is subjective, it’s abusive... especially in a totally political forum like the Olympics.

  39. The video would benefit from some accompanying music, but I see an athletic dancer, not a B-boy. No hip-hop to be found.

  40. Hummm, me thinks he’s gonna need a really good chiropractor in a few years...

  41. If you need a judge, it's not a sport. End of story.

  42. I have seen better break dancing by the group here in NYC that perform on 5th avenue or Central Park for coins from passerby's. These Russian kids should visit and learn from them

  43. Break "dancing" has about as much aesthetic appeal as a fish flopping around on land. And while one might applaud its energetic physicality, it hardly compares to a great floor exercise routine by a trained gymnast. To me it's a lot of ugly gyrations signifying nothing...

  44. At least they don’t prance around and act as little girls being too cutesy. The Russian ballet trained women gymnasts were really good and did not prance and act 13. Needed: weight and height divisions as in boxing and wrestling. Tall athletic, due to basic physics, cannot spin as fast. But they can be extraordinary in their leaps and graceful in ballet like moves. Divisions by size would give us two very different styles. And prancing would likely disappear. And perhaps molestation by their doctors and trainers. I do not remember any such problems before Olga Korbut, nor was she a pranced if I remember right.

  45. Should I try this at home?

  46. Yep. With youth coaches for safety and do not stress your neck. Hour kids and grand kids will love you and teach you whatever you can’t yet teach them. Capoeira is not a bad start.

  47. Break Dancing an Olympic event??? GIVE ME STRENGTH! Golf, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Trampoline, now this?! What a farce! Stay tuned for Banana Peeling, Coney Eating, Video Gaming, Dog Grooming and Cake Decorating. No wonder the competitions for hosting subsequent years have no entrants....or TV ratings!

  48. And the Olympics voted in 2013 to discontinue wrestling? (Subsequently re-added for 2020 and 2024)

  49. First they added twirling a ribbon on a stick, now break dancing. Perhaps at subsequent Olympics we can expect to see flamenco dancing, or darts, or arm wrestling. Or maybe competitive hat-wearing or finger-snapping. The ancient Greeks, who started it all, must be spinning in their graves. Hmm, could grave-spinning be considered a sport? Don’t see why not.

  50. so good.

  51. Да, пожалуйста! I have fond memories of watching boys hold breakdance competitions outside my high school cafeteria in the 1980s. Out came the piece of cardboard, and the awesomeness began! I will be watching.

  52. I think that it's time to have two Olympics: one where it's solely time, speed, distance events, and the other, judging on some esoteric scales. Both summer and winter, that way everyone who is athletic can showcase their talents, and we can choose what to watch.