Tag Archives: osu

“Negus” Dance Film

Negus- noun: Kingship, royalty.

Inspired by the works of artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Kehinde Wiley, I wanted to explore different levels of identity and representation of the black male in the United States. “Negus” is a Hip-hop work that asks African-American males, where do we come from, who are we now, what values do we uphold, what obstacles do we face in this society, and how do we overcome them?

In asking these questions, “Negus” seeks to use Hip-hop as a way to portray the humanity of the black male figure. In doing so, it directly opposes the commercial rap world– a primary source for the portrayal of the stereotypical black man–and delves deeply into some complications about certain aspects of the African-American experience.

“Negus” premiered at Urban Art Space in Columbus, OH in January of 2016. This film both captures the essence of the original work and completely wrecks it simultaneously. Within the film aspects of controversy between who we are and who we could/should be are portrayed as well as lighter themes such as rhythm, fun, etc. I hope this helps give you a way into viewing the film and I hope you enjoy!

Put Your Hands Up: Hip-hop, Incarceration, and The Fate of the Black Male pt 3

Part 3:

Ice Cube—previous member of the rap group, NWA—in The Art of Rap says, “What [street knowledge] means to me is letting the streets know what the politicians is trying to do to them and then letting the politicians know what the streets think of them, if they’re listening.” In the same interview, Ice T then responds with, “I wanted somebody to take my album, when they done, be more intelligent about the game than they were. Versus me saying that I’m tough…” (Something From Nothing). This insinuates that even the “gangsta’ rappers” of the 1980’s who dropped the F-bomb like it was a preposition had an intent to instill values into their hood and into the minds of anyone who would listen.

The rappers of today previously mentioned in the list of chart toppers don’t seem to have any similar kind of intent behind their music. Social conscious messaging is either completely void from these artists’ work or it exists and is swept under the rug by the rap industry. When you look at a rapper like Yo Gotti, his latest album The Art Of Hustle—which features a Billboard top 15 song, Down In The DM—begins with the track My City, which is an authentic reflection of life in Yo Gotti’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Yet, Down In The DM holds almost 11 million views on Youtube compared to My City’s 43,000 views, thus showing the disparity in the kinds of counter-cultural Hip-hop music that is played on a commercial level today.

Michelle Alexander in the New Jim Crow established what the label of “second-class citizen” implies in this country: discrimination equal to the treatment of blacks during slavery and the Jim Crow era. However, how is commercialized Hip-hop related to this label of second-class citizenship? The number of incarcerated African American males is at an all time high in the United States. Simultaneously, the most influential medium for black men to be heard by a mainstream audience has shifted towards a counter-cultural movement that represents excessive sex, illegal drug use, and violence. I suggest that the combination of the two is a powerful force that negatively influences the ways in which African-American males identify themselves in this country and the ways in which others identify them.

When I was ten years old I moved to the edges of inner city Philadelphia. It was the first time I had been in an environment where the majority of people around me resembled my ethnicity and racial make-up on a daily basis. As a boy trying to fit in, I found myself listening to rap music and watching Hip-hop music videos through 106 and Park on BET (Black Entertainment Television) despite my parents’ strict opposition against such things. I was a part of a Christian home with both parents invested into my life, yet I remember how my mind solely desired the fruits of my Hip-hop influenced environment. I wanted to wear the baggie clothes of Puff Daddy, talk like 50 Cent, and get the girls like Nelly. Naturally, I started cursing whenever my parents were absent, I sagged my pants as soon as I left the embrace of my mother to go off to school, and I talked to females like they were meant for only one thing. The black males I looked up to in the media influenced the way in which I viewed the world, even in contest with my own parents’ teachings. If my ten-year-old mind was so influenced by the counter-culture of commercialized Hip-hop that my parents felt a need to move me from Philadelphia after 3 years, I can only imagine the magnitude of influence it has on young black boys whose fathers are in jail.

The b(AA)ttle

This project explores the impact of many commercial rap songs on our society in regards to the representation of blackness in America.

It also combats the use of glorifying criminalization within rap songs as a way to silence the productive voices of blackness and black people in this country.

Enjoy!

Get Groovy Reflection: Is Teaching More About My Subject Or My Student?

A little more than a week ago, I completed one of the most ambitious goals I’ve ever set for myself—the production of an online dance course. This course is a culmination of the saturated learning experiences during my short time as a teacher. Releasing the Get Groovy course got me thinking about the journey that brought me to this point in my pedagogical career and so, I wanted to share a little bit about it today.

531059_131535140304800_283081253_nI remember when I was an undergraduate at Penn State, I would always ask my mentor, Kikora Franklin, if I could teach her Hiphop class. At that time, not many people around me wanted to train in Hiphop the way I wanted to. So, I figured that if I was able to teach a class, I could force people to train with me the way I wanted to train (selfishness at its finest lol)!

Once I got to Ohio State, I believe, to an extent, I brought that mindset to my first group of students. The most important aspect of my classroom was the material being taught rather than the people who I was teaching it to.

One day, near the end of my first semester, I was too tired to do a lot of drills and stuff. So, I just taught a combination that I learned from a Hiphop convention: a little challenging, but to great music and really fun. The class ate the combo up! There were still mess-ups and people had to fight to get the material, but up to that point, I had never seen a group of students so alive in a classroom! I had started to grow accustomed to feeling as though I was talking to a brick wall, “We’re going to do jumping jacks, high knees, and then push ups, we ready?!”…

…crickets…

But, this time, I could see the energy exuding out of students’ eyes as they smiled, half-fived each other, and moved with joy to the song. That moment showed me the value of extracting Hiphop’s message– peace, love, unity, and having fun— and instilling it within a classroom setting. Simply teaching the physical components of dance would never be enough for me from then on. So, I decided that I would use my teaching of dance as a tool to help students construct a deeper connection within themselves and with the others around them.

Since then, I believe that my classroom has changed tremendously for the better. I have made a number of great relationships with students and I know they have connected with each other beyond the classroom– which is ultimately what it’s all about. I’m excited and nervous for every new semester because I love facing the challenge of guiding a group of strangers to gain a sense of a familial bond with one another through Hiphop dance. There are just very few things that satisfy me more than seeing that growth over a short 15-week period.

So, although Get Groovy is an online course where connecting with students is more difficult, I tried my best to create an experience that allows students to not only gain a skill-set, but to also grasp an understanding of how that skill-set can be used to make a better life for themselves and the people around them.

This week is the Get Groovy Launch Week! So, if you’re interested in the course, this week is the time to get it considering it’s 80% off if you click this link: (Get Groovy Launch Week Coupon Link).

Also be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube @Cue4christ and Facebook @Cue Arnold. Blessings!

Growing From The Rain: A 2nd Year Grad School Testimonial

1_Water-Drops-on-Red-Rose-960x800

This past semester I was honored to give a talk about passion to a group of undergraduate students at The Ohio State University through an event called “What’s Your Number” hosted by Vanessa Scott. Through this event, I was reminded of how powerful testimonies can be. Sometimes, it is not about preaching what others should do, but just letting others know your story with a hope that someone can be inspired by it. So, I wanted to tell a story from my second year of graduate school with a hope that it empowers someone someday:

Coming into this past Spring semester of 2015 I was really anxious. It’s really nothing new. Every semester since the beginning of my graduate career has been filled with nervousness because of my desire to do well. But, there was definitely something different about this semester in particular.

For one, I was coming back from the toughest semester I’ve had in my graduate career. It was ironic because my schedule for that semester was the most lenient and inviting one that I’ll ever have (a lot of Hiphop and very little ballet… ah yea). I literally was set to have the time of my life. And, I started off right: get up early, work out, take class, teach class, enjoy life, repeat.

Then a day came where I received an email that said I did not pass my first graduate exam– one that was crucial for me to pass in order to stay in the graduate program. Although my heart was struck, I sort of expected the result for numerous reasons including my procrastination with the assignment over the summer. Also, I was given a chance to retake the exam within the next month. So, all things considering, life was still nice. Little did I know that this bump in the road would lead to one of my greatest pits in life.

I tried to continue my 8:30 am-8: 30pm school regiment while getting the exam done- ultimate fail. My schedule was just too busy and taxing. I dropped my morning gym schedule and from that next day forward, my desire to arise every morning dropped with it. Waking up literally became the hardest thing to do. Despite how much sleep I received, I would struggle to gain consciousness because it felt like a brick was sitting in my brain, forcing my eyelids to shut me back into my dream state. The most important exam of my current life was silenced with every press of the snooze button (pathetic, I know). This went on for the greater part of a month. Finally, one week, I was able to muster up the strength to attack the exam full on. I wrote nonstop and asked for the help of peers, colleagues, and family in order to make my exam fail-proof. I turned my second exam in and immediately felt heaviness rise and dissipate from my soul as I felt proud of the work I had done.

A couple weeks later, I found that my pride wasn’t reciprocated as I read another email saying that I had failed again. From what I knew at the time, failing twice meant you would be asked to leave the program. By the grace of God, I was given a third chance to orally defend my exam. However, my spirit was already broken. The thing is I represent a unique demographic as a graduate student in the dance department at OSU. I am the youngest person, the most inexperienced dancer, the sole African-American…and then there’s the whole Hiphop thing. So, to sit there and fail twice in an environment where I already felt alienated (from nobody’s doing, but my own mindset) was hard for me to deal with. I’m not proud to admit that I cracked, but I am glad to say that I was able to still fulfill my responsibilities. Happiness was aloft, however. Positivity within myself or in my relationships was a rare thing to find.

I did end up passing my exam which sent me on Winter break severely wounded but, weirdly, not defeated. I felt invigorated to prove myself and take revenge on all of the things that held me down for 10+ weeks. So, coming full circle back to this Spring semester- I’m nervous. I remember losing sleep on the bus back to Columbus because I was listening to empowering podcasts that would oppose the voice in my head; reminding me of how well I started the semester before, and how poorly it went after that.

My new regiment consisted of an 8 am- 9 pm day at least 4 days-a-week. Most of the day, I was physically exerting myself through dance, working out, or teaching. I took time for myself from 6:30am-7:30am where I made sure to walk around my block, reflect on positive thoughts, pray, go back home, eat breakfast, and listen to an inspiring podcast.

After a week of this regiment, the head-voice told me, “Good job, you did it, but it’s only week one, and you’re tired, how do you think you’re going to do this for 15 weeks?” It just questioned me and questioned me. I did my routine with skepticism, simply waiting for the day where I would retract back to my old ways. Meanwhile, I also felt encouraged by the instant gratification of my regiment. There was something satisfying about feeding myself positivity through multiple modalities like the walking and the listening to inspiring messages. It allowed me to find love in myself, my purpose, and others on a daily basis.

And so, one week turned into two weeks, and weeks turned into a month. And, that voice stayed and questioned, but it started to quiet down. Because a month turned into two months. And, although I did slip up at times to fall victim to the voice questioning my resolve and endurance, I always got back up with a renewed determination. And then… Spring semester ended.

As I traveled on my morning route for the last school day, I couldn’t help but to cry and yell out in victory! For the first time in my life, with and through God, I feel like I gave my full self from start to finish. I trudged, and I pushed through the tiredness and the exhaustion. I barely missed any classes. I fought through any and all injuries. I performed numerous times. I choreographed even more times for works inside and outside of the department. I gave speeches. I taught great classes. I went above and beyond anything I’ve ever done and set myself up for greater things to come. When I fell, I got back up. And now, I sit here knowing that my best was given, and I am proud.

As I’m writing, I look upon my bookshelf and see 30+ cards and notes with lovely words of encouragement and thanks from wonderful people who I’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout the semester. I am so thankful for the things God has done, and the people God has put in my life, in order to push me another day, day-after-day. And even though that doubtful voice still lingers in my head, I lean back in faith knowing that if I beat it once, I’ll do it again.

And so, I end my rant with a bible verse that I depended on through the latter part of this semester. It gave me this image that God is behind me to support, in front of me to lead, and on each side of me to hold my hands every time I decide to take another step in my path of purpose, “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 31.

Peace.

MFA Project: Episode 1: Pilot

mfaproject

Over the holidays I’ve been processing about my MFA project that I have to create in order to, for a lack of better words, establish my legitimacy as a graduate student in dance at The Ohio State University and show how artfully intellectual I am which I’m clearly doing by writing this long-behind sentence…

I’ve recently had to write a third-draft, five-page proposal for my committee to look over, and hopefully approve. Now if you know me, you know that I am not a writer. I don’t like it, never have. However, since I love Hiphop and want to make a case for how important it is to academia and American culture, I have found that I must painfully accept this art-form, and all its wrath, if I’m going to convince the academic gurus of how the dance-form-from-the-streets is legitimate in the institution.

Foundationbboybook
Foundation by Joseph Schloss

So there are two problems with me and this monstrous obstacle called my MFA proposal. One, I am way too heady for my own good. Every time I want to make a statement, I contradict myself ten-times over until I find myself, an hour later, with a digital blank page and the blink-blink of the cursor staring at me. Two, as if being heady isn’t enough, the documentation of Hiphop dance is, to say the least, scarce. The one book that I have found and read that delves deeply into the physicality and culture of Hiphop dance is a book called, “Foundation” by Joseph Schloss (It’s actually pretty dope so if you’re into the bboying scene you should check it out).  But ultimately, the field could use some more writers, not named Quilan Arnold, who are into the Hiphop dance scene.

Electric Boogaloos: (Left to Right) Mr. Wiggles, Popping Pete, Boogaloo Sam, Skeet, Suga Pop
Electric Boogaloos: (Left to Right) Mr. Wiggles, Popping Pete, Boogaloo Sam, Skeet, Suga Pop

Although there isn’t much written documentation, there are a few OG’s (Original Gangster’s… slang for old heads, also known as founders if we were speaking formally) in the game who are talking about Hiphop dance history and culture through video mediums such as Youtube (which is nice because I’d rather listen than read for my research). But, these OG’s are getting interviewed informally by students who have a thirsty knowledge for Hiphop dance. I, who have been in the game for all but five years, have to formally write a paper for faculty in an academic setting. No offense to the OG’s, but they can talk to me when they have to start defining terms and what-not (Which hopefully happens because I want to talk to founding Hiphop dancers as a part of my project! #swag).

Anyways, so after all of the thinking, stating, contradicting, and frustration, something like this has conjured up: “The evolution of Hiphop dance learning styles has fostered a culture within the academic and professional environments that marginalizes the importance of sharing knowledge through improvisational movement; thus, the essence of Hiphop dance, in expression of individuality, has deteriorated as the form has transferred from the streets to the studio.”

I’ll get into that statement in the next post… #cliffhanger #youwasntready

Shout out to my pops @ haroldarnold.com. He’s helped me so much in this whole process and he, along with the rest of my family, is such a big reason for the blessings I am living in today. Love you!

The V-Spot: Lightness in Hiphop Dance

Krump_grafiti_red2

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.

“All In My Head” Choreography (Artist: Tori Kelly)

Hey y’all!

So this is my last video of the semester, I feel like it has been an amazing journey at OSU so far and I wanted to cap it off by going back to what I love to naturally do choreographically- create videos that highlight the dance using my own movement voice.

This small work was simply inspired by Tori Kelly’s voice and power within her music. From the moment I heard it, I knew I would eventually make something up to it. It’s funny because just a few years ago, Adele had just come out, and I remember my frustration because I felt like I was not versatile enough as a dancer to do justice to her songs. Now, I believe that I can dance and choreograph to anything my imagination desires, which is perfect timing considering I am exploring my choreographic voice at school. So this work is a testament to the hard work, love, and support that has nourished my growth and brought me to this point!

I hope you all enjoy and take in the beauty that is this song. Blessings.

FACEless

yellow-mask-2

Hey y’all,

This is my second major film project from Ohio State. We were required to pick a piece of artwork and create a short movie based off of what inspired us.

I chose a piece of artwork of a Krump dancer in open space. There is no title or artist; however, this work has inspired me for years now. For me, it represents the freedom of giving yourself up to the Lord.

I used the artwork to create Faceless, a short film based off of the masks that individuals wear when they are interacting with others in society.

We rarely, if ever, show our entire selves when we are living amidst society. More so, we put on different masks to show portions of ourselves depending on our situation. This film explores the pressure that builds upon us as we put on these masks in order to be accepted and meet expectations in society; and then, the breath of freedom that comes with escaping society and allowing our true selves to be expressed without restraint.

I hope you enjoy and take something away from the piece. Blessings.

First Mark

Hey y’all,

“First Mark” is my first dance film project created here at Ohio State University. We were required to choreograph 2 movements and film the movements from 22 angles. Using our clips, we used our creativity to tell our own story.

The title represents the last name of the dancer, Mel Mark, and my first step into making a difference in the dance field here at OSU.

Special thanks to the dancer, Mel Mark. Freshman dance major at OSU.