This article is published through our Regional Reporter Program. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Digital Now initiative.
Tiffany Leung, or b-girl Deepfriedtiff, is a breaker from Toronto. She was one of the first four athletes to join Team Canada’s national breaking team, which now includes eight members. Tiffany hopes to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, where breaking will have its debut as an Olympic sport.
Valérie Herdes, The Dance Current’s regional reporter for Canada’s northern regions, sat down with Leung to talk about her breaking career and being an athlete with Canada’s national breaking team.
Valérie Herdes: How long have you been breaking? And what got you interested in it initially?
Tiffany Leung: I’ve been breaking for about nine years. In my first year of university, during orientation week, I saw a b-girl throw down some footwork and I instantly fell in love with the movement. At the time, I didn’t know that footwork was part of breaking – I thought breaking was kind of just windmills, from what I saw back in Hong Kong where I was growing up. But then, when I saw footwork, I thought it was the coolest and most unique movement ever. So I just fell in love with breaking.
VH: What made you decide to pursue competing in the Olympics?
TL: In 2020, in the early days of the COVID pandemic, it was officially announced that breaking was going to be added as an Olympic sport. At that time, I was suffering from a couple of concussions and I was really focused on my career [as a senior consultant at Deloitte], and competing in the Olympics didn’t seem like too much of a reality. It just seemed like an uphill battle. But then I read this quote from a book by Brené Brown called Daring Greatly, which said that you shouldn’t ask yourself what you should do if you knew you couldn’t fail, but you should ask yourself what is worth doing even if you do fail. Trying to go to the Olympics for breaking was the first thought that came to mind, and in that moment, I realized that I wanted to try to go to the Olympics; I was just scared of putting in all that effort and not making it. But after getting over that fear, I’m very much enjoying the entire process and journey. And I do love breaking. So I would want to share my breaking with the world. And it would be an honour to be able to show people across the world how amazing breaking is.
VH: What does it mean to you to be a part of Team Canada?
TL: I get to represent Canada at different breaking events, and hopefully at the Olympics. It means a lot because, although my goal is to be one of the best b-girls in the world, at least I can say I’m one of the best b-girls in Canada. Having the support of Breaking Canada goes a long way because they’ve given me so many opportunities – whether that was going to the World Games or supporting me financially to be able to go to different world qualification events. That’s definitely really helpful because otherwise, it’s very expensive to fly around and qualify.
VH: What is your favourite move or combo?
TL: Last year, my favourite move was this rainbow swivel move that I made. It was one of those ‘bangers’ that I knew if I did it, it was really hard to beat. Whether I start or end my round with it, it’s one of those moves where it feels like it’s me. It’s unique and it feels like who I am, encapsulated in a move. It’s just really fun to do. And this year, I’m working on a new combo that’s a valdez to a barrel, to a double mill to my head. It’s very hit-or-miss, but I’m getting there. It’s not a move that I have right now, but I know that once I hit it consistently, it’s going to be my favourite move.
VH: Do you have an ultimate goal as a b-girl? Or something specific that you’re hoping to achieve in your breaking career?
TL: I think my ultimate goal as a b-girl is just to be the best dancer that I can possibly be. I really want to be able to do power moves (the acrobatic moves you see in breaking) effortlessly. I want to be able to combine power moves very nicely. I want to be swift, I want to be fast and I want to be clean. And then I want to have nasty footwork, good toprocks and a really good foundation. And on top of that, have my own creative and unique style and a silhouette that is very clearly mine. I think that goes with developing my flow and style and being very one with my moves to the point where I’m not thinking; I’m just moving, and it’s very seamless. So my goal is to be really confident in my movements, not only getting better and improving the quality of my current movements but actually furthering my vocabulary and unlocking the freedom to move in any direction that my body wants. So just to be more free and to be more me.
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