Hailing from Krasnodar in Southern Russia, Kastet, whose name means 'Brass Knuckles' in English, is one of the most unstoppable talents in the game and her 2020 win has cemented that status.
The Russian B-Girl's musical flex was more on point than ever during the 2020 Red Bull BC One World Final in Salzburg, Austria. She levelled up her skills, her eye contact was piercing and, post-win, her passion for what's next was entirely magnetic.
Fresh off the floor and ready to celebrate, we caught up with her to get her reaction.
How does it feel to have just made history as a two-time Red Bull BC One B-Girl champion and back-to-back winner?
Wonderful, but honestly I'm in shock. I think right now I don't understand it. It's still so fresh that all I'm thinking about is the battle, like, 'Ah that move wasn't very good,' or, 'I forgot to do this and that.' I'm so happy, but to be totally honest, I don't understand it all yet. It hasn't sunk in. It's only doing this interview and seeing all the messages popping up that I'm starting to feel it.
What was the first thing you did after winning?
The first thing I did was call my husband and parents, who are all already celebrating in Russia. They were all watching and supporting me with my crew, 3:16, on Zoom.
Madmax vs Kastet – final battle
B-Girls Madmax and Kastet battle each other for the Red Bull BC One World Final 2020 title.
Winning this year wasn't about my physical power, but my mental power
Was it surreal to win without the vibe of the crowd?
It was a very fancy arena, but without the audience, it felt like a practice. One good thing, though, is that without the sound of the crowd you normally hear, you could only concentrate on yourself, the music and your opponent.
Apart from winning, what was the highlight of the battle for you?
My favourite part was the dialogue between Ayane and all the girls this year. We had this mad connection, it was really strong. This was the highlight from all the battles. OK, you're on the world stage, but, for me, you should be open and real. I'm not only there to prove something, but to have a conversation with my opponent.
How did your training before this year's final differ from last year?
I did almost the same training, but what I did differently this time around is that I wanted to prepare with one really dope Russian breaker, B-Boy Robin. He's really professional and I really appreciate his style, so I spent two weeks in Moscow training with him. I just wanted to get more knowledge from him and get a deeper understanding of his style, because I love it so much.
Was there anything else new that you focused on?
I'm trying to learn how to breathe. It sounds crazy, but when I dance I don't breathe, so now I'm really focused on trying to breathe more and I think that made a real difference.
What was your biggest challenge this year?
I can't say anything about the battle because, honestly, I don't remember anything. My craziest round of the day was my morning. I slept really badly last night. Before today I had no stress and I never got nervous, but from this morning my heart was racing. I was feeling the excitement inside and I couldn't figure it out, because I've been so relaxed before. I spent the day trying to breathe, sleep a bit and listen to music to calm myself down.
Your confidence seemed to be on another level this year. What do you think contributed the most to that?
Winning this year wasn't about my physical power, but my mental power. I'm really not a confident person. I can say bullshit to myself, but in the past months I've been working really hard on improving my confidence and strengthening the mental side of things. For that reason, winning the world final is a proud point for me.
Kastet vs Ayane – semi-final 2
B-Girls Kastet and Ayane compete for a spot in the finals of Red Bull BC One World Final 2020.
It's not just about skill – it's about your personality. The most important thing is to be true to your character
What aspect of your dancing do you feel has improved the most?
Everything to do with my mentality. All throughout this year I haven't believed in my moves. I've won a lot, but each time it's brought me doubt and taken my confidence down more. So, last month I worked hard to evolve my mental approach and to believe in myself, believe in my style more and know that what I'm doing is good.
What do you think is the most essential skill to win?
It depends. It's not just about skill – it's about your personality. The most important thing is to be true to your character, so if you really like power moves, do them. If you really like toprock, dance and music, do that. Don't give up on what drives you to dance. Do it and trust in yourself.
At the 2018 world finals, you said that Nadia was your biggest B-Girl inspiration, so how does it feel to know that you're inspiring new-gen B-Girls in the same way?
Oh man, I know that some girls are inspired by me, but I really don't think about it. When it comes to B-Girls, Nadia is still the main inspiration for me. I'm proud of myself and so proud if I'm pushing dancers to follow their dream, but I don't think of myself like that yet.
I want to keep battling and I want to develop my dancing more. I'm also in my last year of university as an artist/painter, so I need to finish my diploma. I'll do that for sure next year.
What’s the main thing that drives you to keep going?
I think, for me, dance is a way to know myself better. Sometimes I've wanted to give up, or I feel like I'm not a powerful person. Still, by researching myself, those same weaknesses and how I've made it through different situations is what's made me stronger. I can see how much I'm growing up and how much more I'm capable of. I've accomplished a lot, but I know I need to do more and can do more.
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