Afghanistan’s first female breakdancer eyes for Paris Olympics
18-year old Manizha Talash joined a small breakdancing community in Afghanistan a few months ago. Little did she know that she would be the only woman in the group. This, however, didn’t deter her from going after her passion.
Today, the young girl aims to represent her country in the upcoming Paris Olympics.
“I want to be different,” Talash told Reuters in an interview. She further added, “I want to become a good role model in Afghanistan.”
Dressed head to ankle in black for training, Talash dared to pursue her dream in Afghanistan’s conservative, Islamic society. A country where people frown on the dancing of any form and more so when a woman is seen participating that too in public events.
Just a few months in training and the young talent has received multiple death threats, but Talash has not given up. She’s still dancing.
Needless to add, women in Afghanistan have always faced the heat. Girls schools were frequently attacked by militants during the past two decades, and in May last year 24 people, including 16 mothers, were killed in a horrific attack on a maternity ward.
Progressive-minded Afghans fear gains in women’s rights since a Taliban government was ousted in 2001 may be at risk as their government engages in peace talks that could end up giving the Taliban more say in the country’s future, while the United States prepares to withdraw its last remaining troops.
“When I think about the possible return of the Taliban and that maybe I cannot continue practising breakdancing, I become very upset,” said Talash. “I want to be a role model, a person who has achieved her dreams.“
Founded a year ago in Kabul, the club she belongs to now has over 30 members. They gather three times a week to practice the acrobatic moves, including headspins, that are hallmarks of breakdancing.
“I think it is very good that women can do such a sport like break-dancing,” said breakdancer and instructor Sajad Temurian.
Breakdancing, an art form which was born on the streets of New York City in the 1970s, was among four sports, along with skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing, that the International Olympic Committee agreed recently to add to the Paris Games in 2024 in an effort to attract a younger, more urban audience.
“This (sport) is very tough, and you have to have a strong physique to learn and do it….it isn’t easy, but nothing is easy, you can learn and achieve the goal,” Talash said, adding some moves require an athlete to lift their entire body weight on one arm.
In a hope that the world will see Talash’s bravery and passion for dancing in 2024 Paris Olympics, we at RealShePower wish her the best. May she fulfil her dreams and become a role model for the young girls of Afghanistan.
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