Breakdancing in Tunisia steps up the beat

Ala Zrafi and his breakdancing students in action

Ala Zrafi is a 30-year-old breaker (breakdancer) and the owner of The Urban Dance Academy in Tunisia.

The alternative dance style was barely known in the country 20 years ago, according to the instructor.

Back then, breakdancing in Tunisia was not recognised as a performing art form by the cultural authorities or society as a whole.

However, since 2011, Zrafi says that it gained in popularity with more than 20 dance academies opening and multiple breakdance crews emerging nationwide.

Seven years ago, and for the first time, Tunisia hosted a smaller version of ‘The Battle of the Year’ dance contest with more than 150 breakers on stage.

Ranim Boutara speaking about her experience as a female breaker in Tunisia

“Breakdancing is no longer a boy’s club,” he says. “When I was young we didn’t accept girls to dance with us [but] they are stepping up more and more – and I heard also they are kicking it in the streets of the city.”

Nineteen-year-old breaker Ranim Boutara, and her crew The Ninja’s, gather every weekend to practice for big dance events.

“My parents are still against me dancing in the street but this is my life,” she says, “It’s not just for boys. I want to be a champion one day.”

The Ninja’s: one of Tunisia’s breakdancing crews

The Ninja’s: one of Tunisia’s breakdancing crews