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Breakdance Competitions Are Adding Fingerbreaking to Their Lineup

This is not a bad-cop interrogation method, but rather a newly recognized form of dance

Fingerbreaking (Image: Lilach Chen and DJMadSounds)

Fingerbreaking is not a bad-cop interrogation method.  It is form of dance, in which dancers use their hands to perform breakdancing moves that usually require the entire body. And it is gaining in legitimacy—it's newly recognized at breakdancing competitions as a separate skill.

Pia Catton at the Wall Street Journal spoke with Lilach Chen, preeminent fingerbreaker, about everything from her footwear (shoe keychains) to her moves:

The gear may be cool, but it is the movement that counts. Fingers can approximate everything from the moonwalk—the classic backward foot slide made famous by Michael Jackson—to windmills, the full-circle spins with the upper body on the floor and legs in the air.

If you're having trouble imagining what that looks like, Chen has some YouTube videos to help:

And now, non-fingerbased breakdancing competitions are welcoming the handsy form onto their stage. Red Bull CB One, a 10-year-old breakdancing contest, has added a fingerbreaking segment this year. But don't quit your day job, Chen tells Catton. "I don't know other professionals," she said, and still makes most of her money doing video editing. There's no money in the fingerbreak handstand.

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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