Can we talk?!
What on God’s green Earth is this about?
I’ll try to keep this light and easy breezy, but this post very well may be my first rant. First things first, I ran across this earlier in the year on a friend’s Facebook wall. I’ve been taking my time writing a response to it as I continue to try to get in a good head space to write it without bias. It was originally posted by a well-known & respected guru in hip-hop dance about disrespect given to real hip-hop culture when others commercialize and dilute it into the “marketing terms” of a fusion genre.
Before I jump into what I don’t like and agree with, I’ll start with what I do. I like that this manifesto is drawing attention to the fact that classic hip hop is starting to become diminished into other “trendier” genres. It is a sad fact in today’s dance society that the foundation of commercial dance we see today is not known and practiced as much in favor of what is “popular” and “new”. When purists see this, I’m sure they feel a bit of sadness (and anger, to be honest) that the genre they know and love so well is not receiving the attention and respect it deserves. Not only isolated to dance, I’m sure many proponents in music feel the same when others proclaim that “hip-hop is dead” and they hear what the radio spins day in and day out. In that point, I can totally see the need to discuss this issue.
One of the main drawbacks I have with this image is its language and tone. Am I the only one who finds this whole thing quite incendiary? I FULLY understand wanting to get one’s point across seriously, but when I read it, I was initially angered by its bully-ish tactics of “calling out” to embarass someone. I’ve never felt something was so serious as to threaten someone with negative retaliation. It doesn’t unite others, it only encourages division. From the warning header in capital red letters(!!!), the author is in full on attack mode.
The second issue I find fault with are the “marketing terms” listed in the third paragraph. Though I do agree with these being marketing terms and somewhat incorrect to what may be being taught, I find that these terms link what dance is to the public to what dance really represents to those who are trained and know the differences. The terms are there to help one relate to what they are about to experience. I’m sure most people don’t know many of the hip hop foundation styles and concepts, but if I say “contemporary hip hop” and show them a Tabitha & Napoleon piece, they would be able to relate to it much more than trying to equate Vogue with a vintage clip of Willi Ninja. It by no means excuses the fact that they do not know the history of the art form or those who helped bring it to prominance, but it is a reality of what we see and know as hip hop today.
Therein lies my point of all this. Instead of releasing something that has the ability to anger and divide, why not encourage people to do their homework and take these “marketing terms” or fusion styles, find their correlations to the foundational styles, and be sure they explain how the foundation influences the fusion. In this case, you are drawing them in with the fusion style and teaching the fusion style, but establishing a healthy respect for what came before it. From there, others can branch off in whatever style most interests them. This is what I do in my hip hop classes. I am by no means as fully immersed in hip-hop culture as some others, but I do have a deep respect for where it has evolved from. Though the classes I teach are marketed under the term of “hip hop” by the people who advertise them, it is not a pure hip hop class. I place attention on the core foundation styles and the correct movement vocabulary, but what often keeps interest in the class is when the movement is put into materials the students can relate to.
In our world of trending topics and instant gratification, respect for predecessors of any kind has fully fallen by the wayside. Younger generations look to what’s ahead and try to set the trend rather than learn where the trend originated. As a result, it doesn’t surprise me that these new styles have gained popularity over the old school jawns. But in order to generate interest in something some people may feel boring, you must reach them through what they new, fresh, and dynamic.
So my friends – I turn to you and ask what you think of the piece above. Do you agree? Disagree? Or are you indifferent? Let me know below. I look forward to reading your opinions!