Meet Lily Breeze, Red Bull BC One’s Latina B-Girl Competitor

Meet Lily Breeze, Red Bull BC One's Latina B-Girl Competitor belatina latine
Photo credit: Courtesy of Lily Breeze

One of the largest breaking competitions is well underway! We’re talking about the one-on-one b-boy and b-girl competition Red Bull BC One that’s currently reached its national finals. 

The next round is going down on Saturday, September 17 in Los Angeles, California. Who will win to move towards competing at this year’s Red Bull BC One World Finals?

To get us hyped, BELatina News spoke to one of the Latina talent, b-girl, and hip-hop purveyors, Lily Breeze, who is representing our community this year. She was born and raised in L.A. San Fernando Valley to Mexican immigrant parents. From learning “el mambo” from her father to discovering the breaking scene in 2013 – she’s continuously been in the dancing circle.

Now, she’s taking it to the next level by participating in Red Bull BC One’s national finals.

Here’s what she had to say about the upcoming competition, and what it feels like to represent Latinas in the breakin’ scene.

How’d you get interested in breakin’? 

The first time I witnessed breakin’ B-Boying/B-Girling was when I saw Missy Elliot’s music videos “Gossip Folk,” and “You Got Served” at 11 years old. This sparked my curiosity. The next moments were what pulled me closer to this dance. B-boy Summit 2007 was the first time I saw breakin’ in person; in the ciphers (in the dance circles). I saw B-boy Luigi jumping from one cipher to the next, and the energy in the ciphers is unlike any competition. At this time I was mainly practicing popping, locking, hip-hop freestyle, house, and some krump.

Later on, I saw B-boy Ynot Breakin’ in a cipher at a nightclub dancing seamlessly; his approach, style, and top rock are what I gravitated towards. The way he moved reminded me of home. A year or two later after witnessing B-boy SaEwl win a Red Bull BC one battle in 2013, I told myself ‘this is it.’ I connected with SaEwl and started training with him in the IE (Inland Empire).

A few months later, I came across my current and long-standing Mentor (DJ/ B-Boy/ Photographer/ Documentarian) Ervin Arana at a club. [And] on my birthday, I had one of the most life-changing conversations and in that talk, he said to me: “If you really want to break, come to Homeland, I’ll teach you. Let’s change the world.”

My encounter with him has been what has elevated my focus and practice to new heights, not just with breakin’ but in life. His wisdom and history in this culture go deep. 

How’d you get involved with Red Bull BC One? Is this your first time competing?

The first time I entered a Red Bull BC One was not by invitation. In 2019, my sister, mentor, and friend B-Girl Crissy B was invited and she encouraged me to jump into the prelims. I made it past prelims and lost my first battle. In 2021, B-boy Squid Rock was working with Red Bull BC One organizing the qualifiers and reached out to me and asked me to be part of the LA Cypher. That year, I made it to the semi-finals. I’m not too sure how they go about selecting their qualifiers – but I think they base it on who’s on their radar.

This year, 2022, I was invited to be a wild card at The Red Bull BC One Northwest Regional Cypher in Seattle, [and] I made it to finals – that earned me a spot in the Top 16 at the 2022 Red Bull BC One USA National Finals.

What have you learned from this experience? 

It does not define me. It’s a reminder that everything is subjective in this field. Sometimes judges will vote for you; sometimes they won’t. Sometimes the music is off, sometimes it’s on point; win, lose or draw a title is just that: a title.

How you feel and how you made others feel in that moment is what counts. If I can go out there and express myself honestly and freely –  I won. Ultimately, the only thing I can control is myself.

I’ve learned that if I mentally go out there and say to myself  “I’m winning this,” and truly believe in myself that too shall manifest. It’s a mental battle.

How does being Latina influence your dancing?

How does it not? It’s a part of me. My first introduction to dance was from my father who taught me mambo and a little bit of merengue, salsa, and zapateado. It’s in my blood. Therefore, it’s in my dance whether it’s recognized or not. My ancestors were curanderos/healers and guerreros/ warriors, that fighter energy and flavorful culture live in me.

What other Latine elements do you bring into the Red Bull BC One stage?

I grew up around some Danzeros (Aztec Dancers) and have learned and adapted some of the philosophy to my dance. Dance is very spiritual to me. It is an act of gratitude, celebration, and ceremony. When I dance or battle, I call in my ancestors to dance through me.

I’m big on storytelling through movement and bringing elements of nature to the stage. I’m also heavily inspired by my Mexican, Purépecha (The People of Michoacán) roots, El Baile De Los Viejitos (The Dance of The Elders), and my father’s (Rafael Ortega aka El Mambo) dance moves. It’s something you may see sprinkled in my dance.

I’m deeply proud of my Mexican roots yet – still as a human and as an artist – I don’t limit my creativity by boxing myself to one thing or title. Instead, I allow other forms of inspiration to be explored. I am more than just Latine, I am more than just a B-girl.

Anything else you’d like to share on being Latina in this competition?  

I’m just proud to be repping for my people on this stage. I want to see more of us on here.

You can catch the b-girl competitor, Lily Breeze, competing at the Red Bull BC One Cypher USA on Saturday, September 17. The competition is taking place at Eden Hollywood (650 Schrader Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028) at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.