‘Breaking means I specific myself via music’

Breaking star Emma Houston aka Shortbread
Houston was first drawn to breaking as an adolescent
Venue: Manchester Date: Sunday, 6 November 17:00-19:30 GMT
Protection: Stay on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport web site and app.

There can be many magical moments which can ‘go viral’ throughout the Paris 2024 Olympics, however one sport prone to generate a lot of engagement is breaking.

The game, which has advanced from break dancing and the hip hop tradition of the Nineteen Seventies, will make its main Video games bow in Paris, six years after a blinding debut on the 2018 Youth Olympics.

Emma Houston – a former Falkirk Women footballer turned TV expertise present dancer – and now non-binary breaking star often known as ‘Shortbread’ – has labored with a few of the world’s main business manufacturers like Nike, Levi’s, Adidas and Virgin.

Shortbread, who makes use of the pronouns they/them, can be certainly one of Britain’s finest prospects for a spot at Paris 2024 and the 31-year-old Scot will look to take a step in the direction of that concentrate on through the European Breaking Championships in Manchester this weekend.

“It seems like we’re on the point of one thing as a result of this motion is beginning to take the world by storm,” they advised BBC Sport.

“I actually consider it’ll blow folks’s minds on the Olympics.”

The “pure battler” impressed to bounce by a movie

Shortbread mentioned they had been a “extremely aggressive” youngster who “wished to win at all the pieces” and for the “die-hard Rangers fan” soccer was undoubtedly a primary love.

Watching the 2004 film You Obtained Served – which follows a bunch of dancers who change into concerned in road dancing competitions, or ‘battles’ – opened their eyes to an entire new type of particular person expressionism. The teen was hooked.

“Clearly at that age [aged 15] everybody’s going via rather a lot and I definitely was [in terms of identity] and I discovered this chance to precise myself via music in a method I would by no means considered earlier than,” they revealed.

“It was this marriage of music, motion and expression I would been craving for all my life.

“Particular person selection is absolutely emphasised and inspired in hip hop tradition. Having that autonomy and selection over how I moved and expressed my gender felt actually liberating.”

The younger breaker took on the title Shortbread after their mom revealed it was their nickname earlier than being born and was drawn to the very fact it “wasn’t gendered and pays homage” to their Scottish roots.

Expertise exhibits and business success

Not lengthy after they moved from their residence in Stirling to London to review up to date dance on the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance they turned a finalist on Sky TV present ‘Obtained to Dance’ with the Boadicea crew in 2012.

They run the Houston Dance Collective which “focuses on hip hop and queer storytelling” and possess not solely a blinding, but in addition extremely fascinating skillset.

That has seen them recruited by a number of high-profile manufacturers to carry out in and choreograph commercials, most lately enjoying a number one function in Virgin’s new uniform promotion, which permits employees to decide on outfits which finest go well with their gender expression.

Experiences and alternatives like this, mixed with world travels as a breaking star competing in Purple Bull BC occasions typically appear “mind-blowing” to Shortbread, however they admit there are numerous challenges.

“It is nonetheless exhausting to make your dwelling as a breaker as a result of there are nonetheless the stigmas and stereotypes,” they mentioned.

“For many years, breakers have nearly been laughed or sniggered at, with folks saying ‘oh, you simply spin round in your head’ however that is now a world motion which is prospering and it is time athletes gained the respect they deserve.”

Will Olympic historical past beckon?

Shortbread mentioned they had been a “pure battler” and so they have clearly needed to show actual combat away from competitors, however that attribute might but assist them safe a historic Olympic place.

Canadian footballer Quinn and American skateboarder Alana Smith turned the primary athletes who establish as non-binary to compete at an Olympic Video games at Tokyo 2020.

Had been Shortbread to achieve Paris 2024 they might doubtless change into Group GB’s first non-binary squad member, however the breaker insists that is only one component of their story.

“Typically it is irritating simply speaking about what I symbolize as a result of I need to be often known as an artist, as an athlete and for my craft, however I do perceive it is essential I speak about who I’m as a result of that may make it simpler for the following era,” they mentioned.

The breaker explains that they might be pleased to compete within the ladies’s competitors at Paris 2024, as they compete within the ‘Bgirl’ class at main occasions at present, however hopes it provokes wider discussions round inclusivity.

“I do know there’s numerous speak round this in the meanwhile, however to me I perceive that with the Olympics they’re sex-based classes and probably not gender, identity-based classes,” they mentioned.

“For me it is about having extra expansive and inclusive language for these folks in these classes and recognising the abilities free from any gender bias.

“Keep in mind the rationale why ‘Bgirl’ classes had been created within the first place was to create a spot the place individuals who weren’t ‘Bboys’ could possibly be seen and given a chance to shine.

“Hopefully it will get to a degree we are able to have these combined classes and it isn’t based mostly in your intercourse as a result of finally we would like folks to simply be who they’re and valued for what they’ll do.”

Bringing breaking to new UK followers

Shortbread, who has ranked contained in the world’s prime 10, will subsequent have the chance to point out precisely what they’ll do once they “zero in” on their opponents on the European Breaking Championships in Manchester.

“I really like the dialog that occurs in a battle and it is so thrilling to have the ability to convey that to the UK,” they mentioned.

“We need to present what the legacy of hip hop tradition stands for and proper now with the Europeans after which the Olympics developing it seems like we’re on the sting of one thing actually large and unimaginable.

“They’re a terrific likelihood for us to point out what breaking is all about and I do know there’s going to be a lot vitality and assist!”