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US cedes status as breakdancing capital to South Korea

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

If you’re looking for the world’s best break dancers you won’t find them in New York, even though break dancing – also known as B-boying – still brings to mind images of kids spinning on cardboard on Bronx sidewalks. The art form’s current epicenter is on the other side of the world in Seoul, South Korea.

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B-boying was introduced here by American soldiers shortly after its genesis in the United States.

But it really took hold in the late 1990s when a Korean-American named John Jay Chon gave a break dancing video to some of Seoul’s urban dancers.

Korean B-boying’s breakthrough moment came in 2002 at the Battle of the Year. In the country’s second appearance at the event, a Korean crew won – an unheard-of accomplishment.

Break dancing’s popularity here has spread to the world of theater. A show called “Ballerina Who Loves B-Boy” will complete a two-year run in December, and SJ B-Boys Theater claims to be the world’s first theater devoted exclusively to break dancing.