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Healing Through Movement – Nefeli Tsiouti | CYD#5

For someone who discovered break-dancing quite by accident, Nefeli Tsiouti’s dedication to it is unquestionable. A classically trained dancer, she first saw breaking while rehearsing in a studio in Athens: it was love at first sight, and after introducing herself she immediately began to train with the B-boys and B-girls. She fell hard and fast for the dance style – so much so, in fact, that within months she had to stop. After a few months of intense break-dancing her shoulder was so damaged that it required surgery. She was told she would never dance again.

It was a devastating blow, and necessitated a change of direction – Nefeli travelled to London to begin a master’s degree in choreography. Now a lecturer at universities across London, artistic director of Scope Dance Theatre and a freelance choreographer with the Olympic Opening Ceremony and a host of other gigs on her resume, Nefeli’s “success story” could easily be rounded up here. But more impressive even than these achievements is her unexpected return to breakdancing. And now that she’s a B-girl again, she’s determined to help those who have had similar experiences.

In 2013, she started Project Breakalign in response to the lack of health consciousness in the world of breaking, collating a team of medical practitioners, dancers and people active on the scene to research and educate. Raising awareness about safe dancing may not sound sexy, but through her work Nefeli is saving careers and lifestyles. An indomitable spirit, combined with a sense of responsibility to the scene, has seen the project go from strength to strength, and its founder is as exuberant about breaking as she’s ever been. For Nefeli, breaking has always been about individuality and self-expression, and the potential it offers to endlessly develop and recreate yourself is clearly a philosophy she has taken to heart. Working with and within the breaking community, Nefeli continues to grow and helps others to do so – she is a reminder that adapting to the challenges life throws at us might involve rethinking our goals, but it never has to mean ignoring who we are.

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