B-Girl Mirage, Jessica Siu Chats Breaking Scene in Hong Kong
Hong Kong/ Vibe/ Sports

Making Power Moves in the Breaking Scene with B-Girl Mirage, Jessica Siu

Making Power Moves in the Breaking Scene with B Girl Mirage Jessica Siu 3 Photo by Winston Lo

This interview is part of The Beat Hong Kong’s International Women’s Month coverage. Through highlighting women’s voices, we are celebrating and uplifting the women around us through their stories and multifaceted experiences.

“My aim for any type of event is I do want the members of the public to know more about breaking.”

Professional B-girl Jessica Siu has made 2023 a year for the books. Hot off from hosting the second edition of esteemed breaking competition Under the Lion’s Rock: For the Culture, revived after a halt since 2019, she oversaw the buzzing event to welcome guests and competitors from all over the world. Dancers went ‘head to floor’ showcasing their vibrant range of styles and skills, while musical guests and MCs took to the mic.

Marking her 25th competition, she has helmed the UTLR852 Breaking Club towards a decisive victory of raking in new faces amongst the crowds of both participants and audience. Yet behind the show of smooth moves, and her sportsmanship with tracks across the globe, Jessica’s journey was one that began with her on her own from a search for the perfect solo sport.

Assuming form as B-girl Mirage, Jessica shares with The Beat Asia musings on the physical strength and mental clarity it takes to be a breaking athlete, the changing public perception of street culture in Hong Kong, and life philosophies from the dance floor.

“I always felt that breaking was a sign of hope for me. And I really hope that it can be for other people too. I mean, even if you don't become a professional, I hope that a lot of people in the scene can see it as something that can encourage them and give them confidence.”

Having been breaking for well over a decade, Jessica first took up dancing during her time studying in the U.K as an endeavour that allowed her to dedicate time to herself. Taking a leap to join her first competition after some convincing from a friend, she got a foot in the door that opened her up to meeting 200 other fellow break-dancers at her university club. This helped set off an ensuing path of trips around Europe that were mapped out by breaking matches as checkpoints, with her success in attaining high rankings fanning the passion to chase the sport full time.

Despite great success and the raucous crowds she encountered, returning to Hong Kong made it glaringly clear that breaking was not a profession to tread lightly into. As an art that is physically taxing, requiring a heavy investment in time on top of financial support for dancers to even participate in competitions, there was a great need to carve out a space in the city for others to be able to experience what Jessica could.

“Even before the Olympics, we could win a world championship, and no one would ever know.” Touching upon this history-making move by the federation, Jessica noticed the increased sense of legitimacy attributed to breaking in the eyes of the public, spotlighting the dedicated athleticism required behind each move.

“There's a lot of misconceptions that I feel are getting more cleared up. I think one really big thing that the Olympics has helped a lot for us is, Hong Kong always had a huge misconception [that] people interested in hip hop culture or breaking are ‘street kids’.” A difficult affair to untangle from each other, it’s difficult to decipher if these unfounded stereotypes are what makes pursuing recognition for breaking in the Hong Kong mainstream to feel more arduous than it should be, or if the lack of longstanding, focused industry support.

“My grandmother, she represented Hong Kong for swimming in the Asian Games, [but] she wouldn't ever really understand what breaking was. Now that it’s in the Olympics, she's very proud of that. It helped take away a lot of awkwardness in our family. She might not 100% understand what I'm doing, but knowing that she's more accepting of it was a really nice feeling.”

Moving beyond the Olympics, Jessica has fostered a community-facing club through UTLR852, with a goal to make all aspects of hip hop culture and street culture accessible, fostering talent that could train their interest to the next level. Outside of organizing competitions like Under the Lion’s Rock, the UTLR852B club also hosts events that showcase members’ skills through high energy shows, as well as workshops and classes for any age.

“If you saw a lot of artists, or you saw a lot of dancers, they would always be the backup dancers, they will always be backstage, they would always be the people helping – the artists are the main star. And it's quite a feat to see that dancers can be that main star now, because of how things and conceptions have been changing about dance and street culture.”

Naming icons such as Jay Park, the commercial explosion of celebrities who came up through hip hop, have made breaking one of the latest commodities of cool. In approaching this new era of opportunities, Jessica emphasizes authenticity and respect – for the self and for the art - as key pillars in responsibly painting the representation of breaking as one that places its true values first. Values that pay reverence to physical discipline, musical and DJ artistry, emceeing and storytelling, in addition to knowledge – all of which contribute to the humanistic perspective Jessica embodies in her dance.

“Through hip hop culture, you have to constantly learn, improve, understand, and really build your knowledge to make all of these other elements be a part of you. And I think this is something that made me want to become better at what I do and become a better me.”

“I've been breaking for 12 years already, and I still have moments where I feel like wow, I'm such a beginner all over again, because I'm learning so many new things every day about our culture. It's a really beautiful feeling, because I feel like I'm finding something new.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You can keep up with Jessica at @cenamirage , and support UTLR852 here.

Click here to see the rest of our International Women’s Month series.

Get the latest curated content with The Beat Asia's newsletters. Sign up now for a weekly dose of the best stories, events, and deals delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out! Click here to subscribe.

This Week's Events In Hong Kong View more

Sign up to receive updates on what's going on in the city. Don't miss out on exciting events, news, and more. Sign up today!

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice
Thank you for subscribing! Click here if you were not redirected.