The Red Bull BC One World Final in 2017, in Amsterdam, Netherlands was one for the breaking history books. Round-after-round the best breakers on the scene were repping all four corners of the world and clocking fame from a scene blowing up at meteoric speed. The side battles were just as fire as the final.
The three-vs-three battle went down on day two of the Red Bull BC One Camp. The room was packed, the ceiling super-low. A couple of hundred B-Boys, B-Girls and hip-hop heads circled the dance floor. People climbed on top of a stack of speakers to secure a view, as Neguin’s crew, Tsunami All Stars, threw down gravity-defying moves and intricate footwork against three Dutch kids on home soil. And when it was their turn to respond, an 11-year-old B-Girl named India Sardjoe didn’t hold back. Her long ponytail whipped as she swept the floor with power moves and a fiercely confident flex. iPhones flashed like an electric storm in all directions. The room went wild with applause. There was no question India was destined to carve out a name for herself as a top B-Girl.
I’ve never been shy and I’m not scared easily
“I’ve never been shy and I’m not scared easily,” she says. “I started with soccer as a defender when I was six-years-old before I discovered breaking. I was with a lot of boys and the only girl on the field, so I had to stand up for myself. I had to be strong , and that helped me with breaking. My confidence came from that. When I had my first battle at nine years old, I wasn’t standing there like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go.’ I just went.”
B-Girl India was born and raised in The Hague in Holland. Her father is Hindi from Suriname, and her mother is half-Hindi and half-Dutch. Her childhood was soundtracked by traditional music at home and plenty of time spent dancing at family parties with her mum, a talented dancer who loves bachata.
“I started breaking when I was about seven-years-old in 2014. Before that, I did a few street dance and hip-hop classes but switched to breaking because I wanted more adventure. When I saw the breakers from the same dance school , breaking immediately caught my attention. I got into the class, went to the mat, and said, “Ok, let me try that.”
I did a few street dance and hip-hop classes, but switched to breaking because I wanted more adventure
India divided her time on the field playing soccer with dance for a couple of years until breaking took over as her main passion. She moved to a big hip-hop center in The Hague and became a member of the Heavyhitters crew, training with mentors Ton Steenvoorden and Diogo Nogueira. She took lessons from Shane, Rabbani and Little King.
“My first battle was nice because I was a beginner, but I wound up in the semi final. I think people were surprised because there weren’t a lot of girls. I was super-new, so there was this overall reaction like, ‘Oh, we haven’t seen her before, but if she sticks with it, she has it in her to grow.'”
From the outset, India focused on expanding her skillset and technique as quickly as possible.
“When you ask me if breaking came easy to me? No, no, of course not. I had to practice a lot. I wanted to grow so much. I was training, training, training. Then I became better,” India explains . “In the beginning, I was never very musical. When it came to musicality, I didn’t have it in me, so that was something that I needed to practice a lot and also strengthen and develop my top rock. I was always like , ‘hurry, hurry, hurry.’ It’s only this last year that I’m more calm and able to focus on the music.”
In 2022, India is a member of Heavyhitters crew and Hustlekids and she’s inspired a lot by her crew and loves the way they dance. Her other breaking influences are B-Girl Vanessa from Portugal and fellow crew member B-Boy Menno, who’s respected worldwide for creating one of the most original styles on the breaking scene.
When pressed to reveal her own signature move, India answers by saying: “I don’t have one, but I have a signature breaking style that you can distinguish when you see only my movements as me. I have a very powerful creative and dynamic style with all-round flows. I like to focus on details and slides in my combos, which makes it more fluent. For example, a head swipe with a back slide and holding my feet.”
India’s racked up a long list of victories to be proud of, including winning the B-Girl category at the NK Breaking Championships 2022 in Holland and coming second at Outbreak.
“This is the first year I started to travel and do B-Girl battles on a high level. I think Outbreak has been my proudest achievement so far. I came second, but it was good to be there just for the experience. I really had fun every round, from the Top 16 to the semi-final. It felt really nice.”
Keeping the balance: quality over quantity
In less than a decade on the scene, India has traveled extensively and built a solid breaking reputation, fame and fanbase. Now, as she approaches her final year of high school, she’s being more selective on which events to attend to find a balance between good grades and keeping the pace of her breaking career.
But that’s not the only reason B-Girl India emphasizes quality over quantity. “The biggest challenge for me is all the battles right after each other. I want to look fresh. I don’t like to have the same moves. If I have to battle Saturday and then again the following weekend, I want to change up everything, and I think if you battle that often that can be tough to do.”
At 16-years-old, India was finally of age to make her mark and compete in the Red Bull BC One Cypher Holland, but instead, she was handed a prestigious wildcard at the battle and told she would be headed straight to the World Finals in New York.
“This year, my goal was to make it to Red Bull BC One. I wasn’t paying attention to the Games-related events, but I’ll definitely do that next year, and I’d love to represent the Dutch team. For now Red Bull BC One is more of a goal for me than the Games.” India reveals. “Winning the Red Bull BC One Cypher Holland was my main focus and I was really prepared for it. I was ready to battle and excited to dance, but I can’t complain. When they came to me and told me the news that I was going straight to the World Final, that was really moving. I didn’t expect anything like that. I started crying. It’s crazy to think I’m going the first year I was old enough, and I’ve never done the Red Bull BC One Cypher!”
It’s crazy to think I’m going the first year I was old enough, and I’ve never done the Red Bull BC One Cypher!
When India is not breaking, she loves to watch Afro dance for the music and style. She listens to an eclectic mix of Dutch rap, Burna Boy, and Adele. She also enjoys chilling with her friends and family and playing soccer.
“My family is really supportive. My father brought me around the whole of the Netherlands to practice and never minds driving me one or two hours. My mother and probably my aunt and my niece will be coming to New York with me to cheer me on “
With her dream to cross the pond over to the USA already in the works, in the future B-Girl India hopes to combine breaking with her love for traveling and make it to Japan and Brazil. Ultimately, she’d like to share her experience in breaking by teaching classes for the younger generations.
For the time being, she’s looking forward to uniting with her international breaking family. “I really like when we all go to an event, like Red Bull BC One and come together with all our friends from the whole world. I like seeing everybody, dancing and catching up. I don’t care who I compete with in the B-Girl bracket because it’s all the top B-Girls from around the world. I just know it’s just going to be a great competition and feel I’ll be on that stage with friends.”
When it comes to battling and breaking, I’ve always been super-hungry and not shy
She closes with advice for aspiring B-Girls “I really love to break when the crowd is super-hyped. I dance better if I have a lot of energy and when I get that vibe from the audience. When it comes to battling and breaking , I’ve always been super-hungry and not shy. When I really feel the music, I always go first unless I have a strategy. So my advice for young breakers is: ‘Don’t be shy. If it goes wrong, try again. Keep going. Never give up and don’t hold back.'”