Breakdance becoming increasingly popular among youth in Cote d’Ivoire

A beakdancers during a performance in Cote d’Ivoire.
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Copyright © africanews

Yannick Djanhoun

Ivory Coast

If traditional Ivorian dance styles such as coupé-décalé and Zouglou still provide Ivorians with some moves, the nation’s dancing world continues to evolve.

Breakdance, a style of street dance born in the United States in the 1970s. It has become increasingly popular among the youth in Cote d’Ivoire.

Kevin Djanhoun, the reigning west African breakdance champion, has witnessed the evolution of the discipline.

“This discipline is booming in Cote d’Ivoire. When I started, no one practised it, there were no battles, there was no movement here in Cote d’Ivoire. I live this like a mission I took on, I’m on a mission to making this type of dance popular, I’m here to organize competitions, i teach in workshops so that the Ivorian public will discover it. What we are lacking, really, is events because for breakers to stay up to date, they need to move. A breaker has to take part in battles, attend conferences to learn and grow. A breaker needs to travel as well. This one is so important if you want to thrive and grow as a breaker, as a dancer, more generally speaking.

Cote d’Ivoire’s first international breakdance competition took place in September. The event was initiated by Kevin Djanhoun who collaborated with the Institut français, a stakeholder in cultural policy outside France.

The event shone light on dancers from different backgrounds and among them West African prospects.

“I think that the regional battle that Kevin has initiated will not be the last, I’m sure of it,” Jean Mathiot, the executive director of the Institut GFrançais in Cote d’Ivoire said.

“I even believe it can become a regional gathering and why not a panafrican, continental event… and why not have an international aura that Africa deserves. Because Africa is home to great and talented breakdancers.

Breakdance has become a passion and a source of hope for many young Ivorians who eye a career in the discipline. The street dance transcends cultural boundaries and is now part of the rich Ivorian art scene.

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