South Africa’s Courtney Ball: B-Girl, DJ, Bollywood Dancer or Trailblazer for Africa?

Courtney Paul’s Guide to Saying 'No’ to Hot Shorts and Knowing Your Worth as a B-Girl

Paul still remembers his first braking competition in Johannesburg. Recovering from the shock of seeing fiercely competitive dancers in the back room, she waited for the announcement.

„And then right before I go out on stage, the MC goes. 'Next, we have B-Boy…’ and I come out and she goes, 'Oh. It’s a girl!The whole place was exploding,” she recalled. „The reaction was unbelievable.”

Although it’s not that rare to see B-girls in competition in Johannesburg, they’re still a minority.

„Nine times out of 10, I’m the only woman in the room or on stage,” said Paul, who often competes against male breakers. „You look across the stage, the DJ, the videographer, the sound guy, the lighting guy, the comms guy — nine times out of 10, it’s all men. In this day and age, it’s even more so.”

Finding dairy work was an additional challenge as there were no women in breaking.

“I went here and the industry standard for a female dancer was very similar Fishnets and that kind of vibe,” she said. „Then I said, 'Cool, but can I do a handstand for you?’ They said, 'No, I don’t want that!’

Paul finally got his lucky break by winning a breaking solo. It’s a triumphant moment — until she’s given a pair Hot shorts and a crop top Have to dress like nine other female dancers.

„For them, it was just another day’s work. For me, it was like, 'I’m going to die. Of course, this is where my life ends,’ because apart from my dance style, it’s not me,” Paul said.

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„We’re in that place, and it’s a field, and I’m going, 'I’m not wearing this,'” she continued. „She goes, 'Okay, if you’re not going to wear this, you have to leave.’ So I go, 'Okay, cool.’

Two hours later Paul got the call to put on his tracksuit pants and rejoin the group.

„I still have a picture of me standing with all the girls for that show,” she said. „I think that was one of those moments where I realized I had something to offer. I can’t be there for everybody, but I’ve got my place and I’ve got to be comfortable with it. I want Get comfortable saying 'no’ to things I’m going in the direction I want to go.”

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