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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

It Is A Liberating Feeling To Dance, Says Ritu, One Of India’s First Female Hip-Hop Dancers

  • IWB Post
  •  May 22, 2019

Like countless other things that our Indian patriarchal society has set aside in the ‘only for men’ zone, the dance form hip-hop until some time ago was reserved for the male section of our society. But breaking the very mentality are girls writing their own legacy.

For the girls in India who have entered the world of hip-hop, it is a chance to have an equal playing ground which is regardless of the gender stereotypes.

While traditionally hip-hop is a celebration of male camaraderie, the scenario is rapidly changing. Several types of dance forms fall under this category – breaking, locking, popping, the boogaloo and B-boys or B-girls are people accomplished in breakdancing.

The pioneer in the B-girl category is Bangalore’s Ritu, who started performing this dance form in 2008 at a time when hip-hop wasn’t much known. She is also the first girl to be part of Bangalore’s legendary breaking crew, Black Eyes.

“It was difficult at first because I didn’t have the strength to do all the moves the guys were doing. So I had to start doing push-ups. They already had athletic bodies; therefore my progress was slower than theirs. It was challenging, but they were very supportive,” she said.

“I always felt very comfortable and welcome here. There was a sense of respect here that I never felt anywhere else, especially for girls. Everyone knows who you are and they give you that respect,” she added. “Our bodies are not as muscular as men’s. If you look at Rebel BC One, the biggest international breakdancing competition, there has never been a girl in it. As it is there aren’t that many B-girls compared to men, but I do think that it is possible to break into the competition. It is not the community that is restricting us, but since it started with guys, it is still new for us.”

Initially, their teacher was Youtube hip-hop dance videos. “Then we started hearing about other dancers in Bombay. We started traveling for battles only after this. Because it was so new for people, we started getting small gigs here and there, such as college fests,” she said.

But dance practices and taking part in the fests meant that they had to stay out late, with boys. “It was difficult for me to get permission for all of these,” she said.

“I was surrounded by boys and I would try to imitate the way they moved … I would try to do all these difficult flips … But I now have learnt that you don’t need to do this. As girls, we have some distinct advantages over boys. They might be better at the more powerful moves, but we can add our own style to it. You just to need to understand it in a different way … That we move according to our bodies,” she added.

As per Ritu, hip-hop gives her the space to experiment with her body.

“As an Indian girl especially, we have all faced harassment and all of things you have ever wanted to scream at the men staring at you, you can now do through dance. You can explore all these facets of your body that you can’t do otherwise … It’s definitely a liberating feeling,” said Ritu.

H/T: The News Minute

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