How Does Scoring Work In Breakdancing?

How Does Scoring Work In Breakdancing

In breakdance competitions, scoring is provided by a panel of judges who vote on which competitor gives a better performance in a one-on-one matchup. Breakdancing, an exciting form of hip-hop dancing that originated in New York City in the 1970s, will be introduced as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Read on to learn all about scoring in competitive breaking.

Breakdancing Scoring

Though many people may not think of breakdancing as a sport, it has come a long way in the past several years, especially in places like Russia, Japan, and China. Dance moves first seen in city parks and clubs in New York are now part of the competitive dance sport of “breaking.” Breaking has its own unique scoring system, where a panel of judges scores each dancer based on several criteria and then votes on which dancer they think is better.

Olympic Format and Scoring

The Olympic format and scoring system for breaking was developed for the 2018 Youth Olympics, where the sport made its debut. Dancers, or “breakers,” go head-to-head and are judged comparatively by a panel of five judges. The breakers alternate sets, or “throw-downs,” of 60 seconds of breaking to music supplied by a house DJ (the breakers do not get to select their own music).

Generally, a competition between two breakers will comprise between two and five throw-downs. Since dancers alternate turns, part of the art of breaking involves responding to the previous breaker’s performance and trying to one-up them in certain aspects of the routine.

Olympic Scoring Criteria

After each throw-down, the judges cast a silent vote on which breaker they think performed better. To arrive at their conclusion, the judges utilize three categories: mind, body, and soul, further broken down into six criteria:

  • Creativity
  • Personality
  • Technique
  • Variety
  • Performativity
  • Musicality

Olympic Judging Process

As the breakers progress through the different aspects of a throw-down, known as “top rock”, “down rock,” “power moves,” and “freeze,” the panel of judges evaluates their performance in each category. Although the judges may use numerical scores to keep track of their evaluations, they do not report any numbers to the audience. Rather, they simply cast a vote for their choice of which breaker was victorious in each round.

This judging system of three categories, called “Trivium,” was developed by two world-famous breakers, Kevin “Renegade” Gopie and Niels “Storm” Robitzky. The creators designed the system to ensure fairness and objectivity while still carrying forward the creative spirit of breaking.

As in other judge-scored competitions, like figure skating and diving, the problem of biased or unfair judges is always a concern. Using clear, defined scoring criteria such as the Trivium system helps alleviate concerns over the judges’ influence.

Also, breakdancing is scored comparatively, not absolutely, which means the judges only have to consider which breaker was superior to the other in a certain category. This makes the scoring simpler and more transparent.

USA Breakin’

The American governing body of breaking, USA Breakin’, has a slightly different scoring system. In the USA Breakin’ system, called B-Score, there are six categories:

  • Top Rock
  • Footwork
  • Freezes
  • Power Moves
  • Transitions
  • Other

B-Score System

In each of these categories, the breakers are scored from 1-10 by a panel of judges. Whoever gains the highest total score wins the throw-down. Also, the B-Score system contains rules for team (two-on-two) matchups, where teammates’ scores are added together. The Olympic Trivium score system does not include team competitions.

The B-Score system allows the judges to specifically rate breakers in the six specific technical categories. This is the major difference from the Trivium system, which is based on more broad, interpretive criteria.

One reason for the distinction is that the Olympic committee desired a simplified, easier-to-understand scoring system. The B-Score’s use of specific technicalities and numerical reporting was thought to be too complex for new audiences. As a result, the Trivium system was developed to be easier to comprehend for those new to the sport.


How do you score points in breakdancing?

In the Olympic scoring system, there are no points awarded like in other judged competitions like figure skating and diving. Rather, the judges simply compare the two breakers to each other and decide which one was better. In order to do this, they use a scoring system called Trivium, which includes several criteria to categorize the evaluation of the breakers. The judges use these criteria to compare the competitors and cast their vote for who they think outperformed the other.

What are the judging criteria in breakdancing?

In Olympic breakdancing, officially called “breaking,” there are three categories of criteria and a total of six aspects that are considered by the judges. The first category is “body,” which corresponds to the physical moves performed (“technique” and “variety”). Secondly is “mind,” having to do with being creative and responding to the opponent’s routine (“creativity” and “personality”). Finally comes “soul,” which represents style and dramatism (“performativity” and “musicality”). The judges evaluate based on the six criteria and vote on the winner in a head-to-head matchup of two breakers.