SWORDS teenagers’ Katie Talpa (18) and Holly Lloyd Peate (16) will begin their journey this summer to be part of breakdancing’s first ever appearance at the Olympic Games in 2024.
The House of Swag pair took first and second place in the first official event in Ireland since breaking moved into the Olympic realm, earning their place at June’s European Championships in Sochi, Russia this summer.
There, they will get a first idea of where they sit in the world’s pecking order having previously won dance titles on the international stage.
The format sees a preliminary round from which the most impressive 16 performers, deploying their best windmills, head spins, hand glides and jackhammers, will go into head-to-head knock-out “battles”.
And House of Swag Dance Studio’s Tom Kelly says the Euros are a big moment for the club based at Metropoint Business Park.
“They have both been at the dance school since nearly day one,” he told the Dublin Gazette. “They have actually been part of a world champions hip-hop crew as well, winning titles the last two years in a row.
“They have competed at an international level for the past five years, winning numerous awards.
“Last year, we got the word about breaking becoming an Olympic sport so we put a lot of work into it in the club. We opened a second studio just for breaking so that we could have one building solely for it and these girls are literally training seven hours a day, five days a week now. We have a group of elite athletes in the school who just break, break, break seven days a week.”
Talpa and Peate are coached by Kelly’s daughter Nellie – along with Lauren Dignam – who set up the club back in 2012.
Nellie, now 27, danced throughout her youth, breaking at various levels across America before a nasty leg injury when she was 16 seemed to end her involvement.
She went to college in Dublin to study media and arts but, after a year, she came back to her parents to see if she could get back into dancing.
“It was heart-breaking for any parent to hear,” Tom Kelly said as he did not know whether it would be possible.
“But we got medical advice and went through all the right channels. She rested the leg for a full year. She was never going to be able to go back to compete but she could go on to do dance classes.
“We gave it six months, backed her 100%, doing everything for her to get up and running. If the dancing didn’t work out, she was to go back to college – she wasn’t going to lie around all day! The rest is history.”
From it, House of Swag was born and its success has spread to two studios and ambitions to now be at the forefront of Ireland’s latest sport.
There remain a few kinks to iron out. With breaking only accepted into the Olympic range of events in January, a switch needs to be made from the Dance Federation of Ireland to come under the Sport Ireland umbrella.
Until that happens, access to new funding channels will be a little while off.
“We are in a six-month process of being accepted into Sport Ireland but we are already settled into the Olympic Council of Ireland group.
“As far as grants go, there is nothing there at the moment but DFI is funding everything until we get accepted in.
“The World Dance Sports Federation are in control of all the events and on June 25, 26 and 27 in Sochi in Russia, there will be the first official European Championships as part of the Olympic thing. There will now be World Championships, Junior World Championships and all that sort of thing.”