‘Breaking means I categorical myself by music’

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

There might be many magical moments which is able to ‘go viral’ through the Paris 2024 Olympics, however one sport prone to generate numerous 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 Girls footballer turned TV expertise present dancer – and now non-binary breaking star often called ‘Shortbread’ – has labored with a few of the world’s main industrial manufacturers like Nike, Levi’s, Adidas and Virgin.

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

“It appears like we’re getting ready to one thing as a result of this motion is beginning to take the world by storm,” they instructed BBC Sport.

“I actually imagine it would blow individuals’s minds on the Olympics.”

The “pure battler” impressed to bop by a movie

Shortbread stated they had been a “extremely aggressive” baby who “needed to win at every little thing” and for the “die-hard Rangers fan” soccer was undoubtedly a primary love.

Watching the 2004 film You Acquired Served – which follows a bunch of dancers who change into concerned in avenue 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 by lots and I actually was [in terms of identity] and I discovered this chance to precise myself by music in a approach I might by no means thought of earlier than,” they revealed.

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

“Particular person selection is actually 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 identify 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 reveals and industrial success

Not lengthy after they moved from their residence in Stirling to London to check up to date dance on the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance they turned a finalist on Sky TV present ‘Acquired 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 additionally 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 position in Virgin’s new uniform promotion, which permits employees to decide on outfits which greatest go well with their gender expression.

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

“It is nonetheless arduous to make your residing as a breaker as a result of there are nonetheless the stigmas and stereotypes,” they stated.

“For many years, breakers have virtually been laughed or sniggered at, with individuals 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 stated they had been a “pure battler” they usually have clearly needed to display actual combat away from competitors, however that attribute may 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.

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

“Typically it is irritating simply speaking about what I signify as a result of I wish to be often called an artist, as an athlete and for my craft, however I do perceive it is necessary I speak about who I’m as a result of that may make it simpler for the subsequent era,” they stated.

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

“I do know there’s a variety of 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 stated.

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

“Keep in mind the explanation why ‘Bgirl’ classes had been created within the first place was to create a spot the place individuals who weren’t ‘Bboys’ might 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 is not primarily based in your intercourse as a result of finally we wish individuals to simply be who they’re and valued for what they will do.”

Bringing breaking to new UK followers

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

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

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

“They’re a fantastic probability for us to point out what breaking is all about and I do know there’s going to be a lot power and help!”