With breakdancing now an Olympic sport, meet India’s Ace B-Girl ‘Bar-B’

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Bar-B, or Siddhi Tambe, hopes to be one of 16 B-girls in the Paris 2024 Olympics breakdancing event. Currently, she is working hard to prepare for the Red Bull BC One World Finals in New York, to be held on November 12. Learn all about Bar-B’s humble background, struggles and journey and how Welspun helped her graduate from The Degree.

At the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, breaking, popularly known as breakdance, will be a medal event.

According to a report by Forbes, “breakup competitions have taken place all over the world since the 1990s, popularizing the dance form far beyond urban hip-hop communities to transition to mainstream audiences along the way.”

Breaking as a sport made its Olympic debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018. Following its outstanding success, breaking was chosen to feature in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games as a new sport, alongside surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing.

The official website for Pairs 2024 says the breakup competition will feature two events – one for men and one for women – where 16 B-boys and 16 B-girls will face off in spectacular single-player battles.

Hoping to be one of the 16 B-girls, Indian B-girl, Bar-B or Siddhi Tambe.

Bar-B is the winner of the inaugural national breaking championship held in Mumbai last year. Victory at the national championships propelled Bar-B to glory and earned him a ticket to the 2021 World Breaking Championship in Paris.

The teenager went on to win the Red Bull BC One Cypher in July this year. Success at Red Bull BC One Cypher paved the way for him to be in New York in November.

Siddhi fought against all odds to be where she is today. The Mumbai girl’s mother is a teacher from Anganwadi and her father was a ward boy at a local hospital, who was recently promoted and now works in the labor office. After completing her studies, she is now pursuing her B.Sc. degree while keeping her Parisian dreams alive.

CNBCTV18.com caught up with this dance sensation to find out more about her life. Excerpts from his interview are below.

Q. How did you come to breakdancing?

siddhi: I started my career as a dancer at the age of 10. It was new for people around me to see a girl breakdancing.

My mother has always been interested in dancing but she was never able to dance freely due to circumstances. I got hooked because of her. Every time I saw a dance video, I tried to copy the steps. I was shaking all over watching the dance videos, I just couldn’t keep still. So my mom signed me up for a dance class. I was selected after an audition. This is where I learned breakdancing.

Q. What dance class did you attend?

Siddhi: It was the 3D Dance Academy in Mumbai.

Q. Who taught you breakdancing at the academy?

Siddhi: I learned to dance with Santosh sir and Shubham sir. In the academy, there were seven boys who taught me everything, like breaking, locking, popping.

Q. How did you get into breakdancing competitions?

Siddhi: I used to break all day. There was a dada (older brother figure) who told me about breakdance competitions. I was too young to understand competitions. I only knew Bollywood and hip hop dance. I started competing at the age of 11. Then I started with the battles. My mother took me to fights.

Q. How did you feel after winning the inaugural Indian National Breaking Championships last year?

Siddhi: I was very happy. Because I won the championship, I had the chance to represent India at the world breaking championships in Paris. However, the event has been postponed. But I had worked really hard to prepare for the event, thinking that I was going to dance for India.

Now I will represent India at the Red Bull BC One World Finals in New York. The event is November 12. I trained hard. It is my dream to represent my country. I am very excited about the event. It’s not about me, it’s about India. Let’s see what happens.

B-Girl Bar-B at the Red Bull BC One Cypher event. (Image: bgirl_barb_Instagram)

Q. How did your parents react to your success?

Siddhi: As I said, my mother was very supportive of me. But my father was not so encouraging. Not that he was stopping me from dancing, but he believed that education was the only sure path to success. He was somewhat skeptical about the breakup.

But as I started to have success in dance events and gained recognition, he realized that break dancing could help me too. Now he is fully convinced. He proudly talks about my accomplishments and shares articles about me with his friends and lets them know when I’m on TV. He even started to like the station wagon.

Q. I’m curious why breakdancers are getting a different name. You’re famous as a B-Girl Bar-B…

Siddhi: It is up to you if you should adopt a name or not. The name identifies you. Many dancers take names based on their style. if their character is evil, their name will reflect that.

My name was given to me by one of my teammates. My first name was B-girl Sid. Sid is half of my name, Siddhi. But B-girl Sid was confusing to people because I’m a girl. So my teammates changed the name to B-girl Bar-B. Maybe because they thought I looked like Barbie.

It is not mandatory to have another name. It depends on you.

Q. How has the Welspun woman program helped you?

Siddhi: The Welspun Woman Program scholarship helped me a lot. Previously, it was difficult for me to travel to other cities to participate in battles. But now, thanks to the scholarship, I can go to cities to compete.

Not just finances, but Welspun also takes care of my training, my physical and mental health.

Q. Breaking is now a medal event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. How are you preparing for the Paris Olympics? Are there any other Indian breakdancers gearing up for the event?

Siddhi: This is a great opportunity for all breakers to participate in the Olympics. Previously, breaking was just a street dance, so it wasn’t widely recognized. But being in the Olympics, he is now valued. I am happy to see this growth. I am preparing hard for the Olympics. Now I have to represent India, it’s very important for me.

Along with me, B-boy Wildchild (Eshwar Tiwar), who won the national championship in the boys’ category, is also trying hard for the Olympics.

Q. Could you tell us about the degree you are pursuing?

Siddhi: I am pursuing my B.Sc. degree. I first chose to do my degree in microbiology. But it was very difficult for me to manage both the breakage and the microbiology. So I opted for botany and chemistry. I want to do an M.Sc. in one of these subjects. I am really interested in science.

When I started dancing, my mother was clear that I also had to focus on my studies. My parents have been through many hardships and want to protect me from it all. So they want me to have a good education. Obviously with the break I realize my passion, but with the studies I also realize the wish of my parents.

Q. Any message you would like to pass on to young breakers who want to learn breakdance and represent India?

Siddhi: It’s just about doing what you love. If you’re interested in breaking up, give it your all. If you give your 100% to the dance, it will pay you back. When I get frustrated with my college or whatever, I go to my dance class and let off steam. Just give your 100 percent. Be yourself. If I can do it, so can you.

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