Meet Ayumi, the first b-girl to compete in the BC One World Final

B-Girl Ayumi in Nagoya
Forever in the history books as the first ever b-girl to compete in the Red Bull BC One world final, Japan’s Ayumi gives her take on the evolution of female dancers.

What inspired you to start dancing?
I started because of my sister, Narumi. She started dancing three years before me, which is a funny story. I used to live in Canada to learn English, but it was really hard to make friends over there. I had Japanese friends, but other than that I was too shy so I went back to Japan for a month's break and I wanted to start a new thing, a hobby or something I could do when I went back to Canada. I saw my sister dancing, and I was like, 'Ohhhhh!!' I got a little crush on that. My sister suggested I try it, and from there I just got into it.

What was the first move you learned?
The first thing I learnt was 6-step and a Chair, but it was so, so hard. I couldn't hold my body up myself the on first day; my hands were shaking too much.

Do you feel like it's made you stronger coming into the game later as a b-girl?
Me and my sister started breaking really late. Most of my friends started at 12 or 13, and I was much older. Now B-Girls start at five and six. For me, sometimes I feel like I started earlier, but then sometimes I think, 'You know what, I've enjoyed my life. I've seen many things'. That's why I can fight. If I have a big battle, all these experiences that influenced me, I can fight with that.

Do you remember your first battle?
My first battle was in Japan, only a month after I first started. My sister said, 'You should try some battles', but I didn't even know what a battle was. She told me, 'You go there, you dance, you shake hands' so I stepped up and did that after a month. It was so exciting!

How have you seen the scene evolve as a b-girl?
For me, when I look around now, the level is really high. The b-girls are really crazy good, and my country, Japan, has so many b-girls now – from the very young generation to the older ones. They inspire me a lot. The b-girl scene is getting so massive now, and I'm so happy to see that. I get a lot of inspiration from the new faces, the young generation, as well as Narumi, my crew Body Carnival and Queen of Queen's crew.


What's your take on b-boys vs. b-girls, especially being the first and only girl to compete in 2017's Red Bull BC One?
It's tough to compete against the B-Boys, of course. It's not going to be easy, but that can be because of many things. It's not that they're stronger or they have more power moves, it can be footwork, or anything. You never know. Every time I step into a battle, if it's a b-boy or a b-girl, it doesn't matter. We don't know how it's going to play out. I just want to show my stuff on the stage, and push myself.

What's your toughest move still?
Always power moves and skill. I'm not good for that so I have to always try and put in lots of work. But I think everything really. Footwork, dancing – none of it comes easy for me. I just like to try new things and get some new aspects in my style. I don't ever get tired of trying something new and pushing myself the furthest I can.

Who's been your toughest battle?
I used to cry battling against my sister. We have a totally different style. She has a more blow-up like technical style, but my style is very different. We like and understand each other's dance, but we're so different. We help each other a lot, and my sister taught me a lot of things and helps me a lot, especially for Red Bull BC One.

What's it like being on the same crew?
You know, we've been together for so long that I never think too much about it, but it's good. We fight a lot about our dancing, each other's lives, choreography for a showcase. Everything.

How have you seen yourself evolve as a b-girl?
I'm still super shy. When I got the invitation to Red Bull BC One, and even before, I never thought so, but when I arrived at the final I felt like I needed to be more confident in myself. This is my dream to be here, it's a big stage, so I decided to show the most of myself and the do it for my family, and all the other B-Girls coming up behind me.

(interview by Tracy Kawalik and Ayumi. Photos by Nika Kramer and Little Shao)