A week before the Springboks’ historic 11-12 victory against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final at Stade de France, in Saint-Denis, a suburb just north of Paris, Cape Town and the country’s top breakdancer Toufeeq Baatjies, 27, from Eastridge, was taking to the floor at the Red Bull BC One world finals, held at another iconic French sporting venue, the world-famous Roland Garros, home of the French Open.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Red Bull BC One is a prestigious global one-on-one breaking competition that sees more than a thousand breakers from around the world competing in their respective countries for the chance to compete at the world finals.
Appropriate then that this year’s finals took place in the city of love, as breakdancing will make its debut at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
Baatjies, or B-Boy Toufeeq, as he’s known in breakdancing circles, along with Ocean View’s Lakeisha “B-girl Keisha Keesh” Dick, represented South Africa at the world finals after winning their respective divisions at the SA finals earlier this year.
No stranger to the big stage, Baatjies, currently living in Pelican Park, says breakdancing has taken him all over the world, including North America, Europe and on the continent. At this year’s finals, he made it all the way to the last round of 16, the first SA dancer to achieve this feat.
Although he prefers to make up his moves on the spot, it still requires many hours of practice to perfect. “I basically freestyle because not a lot of breakers do this, but it’s called dance so I believe what I feel in the moment I should express and not go with a set,” he said.
As far as opportunities in the dancing world are concerned, Baatjies believes the sky’s no limit. “It depends where your mindset is and how far you want to take it. To be honest, breaking made me see the world and I was just a little kid from Mitchell’s Plain with big dreams. And, when times are tough, he says, it’s important to hold on to those dreams and to work really hard to make it a reality.
“Whatever I go through, I put that energy into my dance and that’s how I created my best moves,” he said.