From Mzansi streets to Olympic heights: Courtnaé Paul is ready for her pre-Olympics debut

B-girl Courtnaé Paul, who is well on her way to securing a spot in the 2024 Summer Olympics, where break-dancing is set to make its debut. Picture: Mpumelelo Macu

B-girl Courtnaé Paul, who is well on her way to securing a spot in the 2024 Summer Olympics, where break-dancing is set to make its debut. Picture: Mpumelelo Macu

Published May 10, 2024


South African B-girl Courtnaé Paul is well on her way to securing a spot in the 2024 Summer Olympics, where break-dance is set to make its debut.

Break-dancing reached the streets of Mzansi just over 20 years ago.

It holds a rich history in the Mother City, Cape Town, and Johannesburg in recent years, as well as Durban where B-girl Paul originates from.

It is in these streets that her talent was nurtured and is now celebrated on international stages.

Paul is now determined to secure a spot at the Paris 2024 Olympics representing South Africa, as well as female break-dancers globally.

She is competing in one of the last few events left before the sports' much-awaited Olympic Games debut.

Paul has been training and preparing mentally and physically for the qualifiers. She has even hired a coach from the UK to help with her training.

Internationally-recognised choreographer and DJ Courtnaé Paul says choreography isn’t something she initially thought she would get into. Picture: Facebook

With break-dancing making its debut, the 32 year-old explains that it feels she is creating a manual on how to prepare as she goes about the journey.

“Americans, Europeans and Asia have been competing at such a high level for so many years, this is a step up for them and for us, we go from competing two or three times a year, to every second month you compete.”

Countries such as China are advanced in break-dancing and have government support through facilities and the sport has been introduced from young ages, creating exposure to the sport.

Paul began dabbling in sports about 14 years ago, starting with gymnastics, kickboxing and soccer until she randomly started dancing with the introduction of movies such as ‘Step Up’, ‘Honey’ and Missy Elliot’s music videos.

For the love of music, Courtnaé Paul is also a DJ. Picture: Supplied

“Before I realised what breaking was I was kind of dabbling in it before knowing there was a whole language to it.”

Now she has been able to make a commercial success of breaking as a choreographer and also DJs and now gets to compete.

Through her company CP Entertainment, Paul has choreographed dance performances for prestigious stages such as the 2024 Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women Summit and Gala Award, the DSTV Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards and the Channel O Music Awards, to name a few.

“There’s a whole different career that I've had. If I like something I’m going to try it.

“One of my skill sets is to intentionally do everything that I do with a high level. Even with competing, it’s like I'm going to push this as far as I can.”

Throughout her journey, Paul has found that just being who she is, is her superpower, especially in an industry where many have expectations of the “norm”.

Prioritising her happiness proved to bring more commercial success than trying to fit into the standards.

Last year, Red Bull TV debuted a documentary ‘Pushing Progression: Breaking’ which unpacked how Breaking went from the Bronx to the world stage.

Paul’s journey is highlighted in the documentary.

“What I've seen throughout my career is that brands will come on for a season, but Red Bull has come in and made sure they have invested and created long-term impact.”

Red Bull BC One South Africa has helped women break barriers by playing a pivotal role in not only highlighting, but also validating South African B-Girls and B-Boys across the board.

“The first Red Bull BC One South Africa was in 2007, and the B-girl category was introduced in 2019 and now we are going to the Olympics, that just shows that the sport is progressing.”

In March, Paul was crowned Red Bull BC One’s South African B-Girl for 2024, and will journey to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to represent the country at the Red Bull BC One World Final on December 7.

Red Bull BC One South Africa 2024 Champions B–Girl Courtnaé Paul at the national finals, held on March 23 in Johannesburg, Braamfontein. Picture: Mpumelelo Macu | Red Bull Content Pool

As Paul heads to Shanghai for the first Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS) event next week from May 16 to 19, she’s ready for whatever is to come, but most importantly, she just wants to enjoy the moment.

Before stepping onto the dance floor, Paul clears her mind, gets her breathing right, and appreciates the moment before her.

“I try to get myself into the mind-frame that the hard work is done, the hard part is done. Now I need to go on stage and get my reward.”

As break-dancing continues to grow, Paul hopes to get onto a more level playing field with the rest of the world, allowing for a fair advantage, and of course, more African women breaking on international stages.

Paul encourages up-and-coming young girls to be confident in who they are, and to get to know themselves, assuring them that things will eventually come into place, “just keep putting in the work and doors will open”.

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