Breakdancing at the Pan American Games 2023: B-boy DAF’s journey from national stage to global arena

The 19th edition of the Pan American Games in Santiago meant more to me than just competition; it was a vibrant celebration of my breakdancing journey. Performing on stage, I connected with every beat and movement, showcasing the art I passionately developed over time.

  • 5 months ago
  • November 29, 2023
6 min read
B-boy DAF breakdancing against his Colombian opponent at the Santiago 2023 Pan American games | Photo courtesy of Nicolás Da Fonseca B-boy DAF breakdancing against his Colombian opponent at the Santiago 2023 Pan American games | Photo courtesy of Nicolás Da Fonseca
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Nicolás Da Fonseca, widely known as B-boy DAF in the breaking community, is a 33-year-old Chilean B-boy currently based in Paris, France. He discovered his passion for dance and Hip Hop culture at the young age of nine. Nicolás honed his skills in Chile, where he pursued dance studies at university before moving abroad to further his professional development. On November 3 and 4, 2023 he made history as the first Chilean B-boy to compete in the Pan American Games hosted in Chile, marking a significant milestone in his breaking career.
background information
Breaking is set to make its Olympic debut as a discipline in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, a significant milestone for this dynamic art form. Competitors will be evaluated using new criteria, with the event featuring 16 top breakers from around the globe. These participants will qualify through various international competitions, including the Pan American Games hosted in Chile. More information can be found on the Olympics website.

This integration marks a revolutionary moment for events like the 2023 Pan American Games. Breakin, under the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) since 1957, first appeared at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires 2018. Its rising popularity led to its inclusion in the Paris 2024 Games, confirmed by the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee. In June 2022, Santiago 2023 announced breakin as a debut sport for both the Pan American and Parapan American Games. For more details, visit Santiago 2023’s website.

SANTIAGO, Chile — After refining my breakdancing skills in France, I set a challenging goal: to compete in the 2023 Pan American Games in Chile. Earning a spot as one of the four breakdancers representing Chile in Santiago filled me with pride, affirming the hard work and dedication I invested in my art.

When a sudden injury struck just two weeks before the games, it put my readiness to the test. Despite intensive rehabilitation, I couldn’t achieve my peak form. Facing Colombian breakdancer Ricky Rulez, I made the difficult decision to withdraw. Nonetheless, I proudly regard myself as a pioneer for Chile in breakdancing at this historic competition.

The 19th edition of the Pan American Games in Santiago meant more to me than just competition; it was a vibrant celebration of my breakdancing journey. Performing on stage, I connected with every beat and movement, showcasing the art I passionately developed over time. This experience marked a significant chapter in my journey through the energetic world of breakdancing.

Read more sports stories at Orato World Media

Igniting My Dance Passion: A Journey Through Hip-Hop and Breakdance

Hip-hop first appeared in my life through graffiti. Starting with simple sketches, I gradually delved deeper into the artform, uncovering complex layers of rich culture. I discovered that hip-hop was more than just a passing trend; it was a potent social movement with global influence.

My introduction to breakdancing, on the other hand, came unexpectedly during a bus ride. As we made our way along the route, I spotted a workshop taking place, led by the breakdancer Bototo. With my curiosity peaked, I leaped off the bus to join in.

This spontaneous decision ignited a lifelong journey in dance – a path I never anticipated, but eagerly embraced. In time, I devoted myself entirely to breakdancing, pouring every ounce of my heart and soul into this electrifying art form. Yet, my heart truly set on fire after seeing a mesmerizing performance by Rock Fama at the Redbull DC One event – a renowned breakdancing competition. His unique b-boy style captivated me.

My aspirations turned to determination as I sought to master an entire lifestyle within the hip-hop culture including what I see as four core elements: breakdancing, graffiti, DJing, and MCing. Fueled with enthusiasm, I frequented workshops to sharpen my skills. While financial constraints limited my access to some resources, like graffiti supplies and DJ equipment, I never let these challenges dampen my spirit. Instead, I focused my energies on breakdancing, making it my primary passion and the cornerstone of my artistic expression.

Overcoming Challenges in the Chilean Breakdance Scene: an opportunity at international breakdance

When I plunged into the breakdancing scene in Chile in the 2000s, I discovered a landscape marked by limited funding and scarce opportunities. The dream of becoming a professional b-boy or even imagining breakdancing at the Olympics seemed like a distant fantasy.

However, I remained resolute in pursuing my passion. Understanding the importance of a university degree for international prospects, I decided to study dance. This decision aligned my academic path with my breakdancing ambitions and drew me to explore vibrant breakdance cultures in countries like Korea.

My choice to study dance took my mother by surprise. However, after months of perseverance, I helped her to understand my perspective. She asked me to pursue another degree along with dance, a challenge I embraced with determination. Gradually, my commitment to dance helped her see and respect my aspirations.

After completing my studies, I shifted my focus to Europe and decided to travel to France to experience its pivotal role in the European breakdance scene. The rich dance culture in France and its close ties to other countries appealed to me far more than the United States or Asia.

Performing in France transformed my approach to breakdancing. I encountered an abundance of workshops, funding, and a diverse community, which felt like a stark contrast from Chile. Immersing myself in this dynamic environment, I embraced regular competition and discovered a rich talent pool. 

Competing against the best in the world: Break-dancer secures a spot in the Pan American 2023 games

When I finally returned to Chile, I marveled at the impressive growth of the breakdance scene there. I witnessed firsthand its increasing global popularity and the pride it brought to my homeland. When I attempted to qualify for the South American championship in Chile, my path took a twist, and I lost in the semi-finals to Bboy Matita.

Undeterred, I pursued qualification through international competitions in France, Rio de Janeiro, and Japan, ultimately earning a 12th-place ranking in America and a spot in the 2023 Pan American Games. Participating in these games after a three-year hiatus, I needed to focus on skill development. This presented both a challenge and an opportunity. Competing against the best around the world reinforced my resilience and marked significant progress in my breakdancing career.

Nicolás Da Fonseca (B-boy DAF) with his family at the 2023 Pan American games | Photo courtesy Nicolás Da Fonseca

Then, two weeks before the Pan American Games, I hit a major roadblock. An injury left me limping and I focused on rehabilitation. With no way to pass my spot to another dancer, I braced myself to compete despite the pain.

In the games, I squared off against a tough Colombian competitor, but my injury loomed large. Sadly, I faced a hard truth and had to withdraw, putting my health and dance career first. I experienced some criticism for withdrawing, but chose optimism over negativity. Prioritizing my health became paramount.

Despite how things ended, the Pan American Games became a career milestone, opening new doors. I gained sponsors, built connections, and lived like an elite athlete. Even now, new opportunities await me. This journey in breakdance has had highs and lows, and every step of the way, it has shaped my personal and professional life. Surrounded by family, supporters, and my loving girlfriend, I am ready for what comes next.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.


Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.



Photo Gallery (10 Photos) PAYOUT: $25
Photo Gallery (20 Photos) PAYOUT: $50