The V-Spot: Lightness in Hiphop Dance

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As I have worked on my composition skills in the graduate level, I have had moments where I realize I am uncomfortable as I move- but I’m never uncomfortable when I’m moving…unless…unless I feel a sense of vulnerability. That feeling creeps and consumes my soul in few instances: when I am ill-prepared to present, performing to no music, or…wait for it…dancing with my arms above my head. What?! Craziness right?

I don’t know. Both arms in the air, fully giving yourself to whatever comes, that is a scary feeling. I tremble at the thought. There is something about realizing you have nothing to hide behind while a multitude of people are staring at you, expecting from you. A part of it is a personal vendetta; however, I feel as though a part of it is the Hiphop culture I look up to so much.

Hiphop dance was birthed out of the ghetto. It started out as an escape from drugs, violence, gangs and an oppressed lifestyle. The aggression and anger that stemmed from these aspects of urban life within the Bronx, New York were positively directed through this art form. That is to say, the emotional connotations that came with living life in the urban community became ingrained within the essence of Hiphop dance from its birth. Breakers would battle each other instead of shooting each other; yet, while moving to the breakbeat, these dancers would attack each other with the same magnitude of emotion that they would have if they were in a gang drive by…

…and so the lineage has been passed down. Within many styles of Hiphop there maintains a through line of an aggressive, yet cool, nature; displaying strong and direct movement with play between timing and flow. All of which resembles the nuances an urban youth must maintain to survive within the ghettos during the beginnings of the Hiphop era. The moment one displayed an accepting effort quality (light, sustained, indirect, and free) in life was the moment they decided to give up living. Therefore, emotions like vulnerability did not have much acceptance within the overall Hiphop community, including the dance.

I feel as though there is a cultural connotation in regards to the resistance against having both arms in the air while dancing in a typical Hiphop aesthetic and exuding Laban’s accepting effort qualities. I feel weak, naked, and transparent- diminishing my ability to feel confident and “swagged out” like Hiphop has taught me to be. I question whether I have seen anyone breakthrough this conflict that I personally struggle with, and what mindset they are in to accomplish that defiance. I wonder if styles like voguing and whacking would allow me to be more comfortable, and why that may be. Many questions to continue to explore- perfect reason to be in graduate school.

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