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Practice tip: Always practice moves from both of your sides

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

The most elementary mistake beginners make. For example, don’t just practice your armwave from the right arm to the left arm, but also from left to right. When you work on a basic choreo, also try to mirror (as in switching direction) the entire routine from the other side. It seems natural that you can transfer a move or a routine to its mirror image once you learn it one way, but this is not how muscle memory works.

Featuring: Katie Lee (SOX)

July 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I have to confess that I didn’t particularly like locking when I first saw the dance. I looked at some of Campbell clips, and it seemed to belong to a different era. I didn’t like the pointing, the clothes, the stationary stance, or the overly comical attitude.

But I remember the second I changed my mind and fell in love with the dance.

I rewatched it over and over again, showing it to friends, angry if they didn’t share my enthusiasm. It was one of the moments where I didn’t properly understand why I loved what I was seeing. Why did this one clip affect me so deeply when most locking clips didn’t? I just knew in my gut that it looked amazing.

This led to me to take a closer look at Yoshi (Japanese dancer from Bebop Crew), and the locking clips of Michi Kasuga (I focused on his popping styles before). I now prefer the locking style over traditional boogaloo popping, despite my love for popping body effects. Let me show you why by showcasing Katie Lee’s locking (her dance name is SOX).

The above So You Think You Can Dance clip (Canadian version) shows a quality that SOX shares with Yoshi. You can call both of them lockers, but they incorporate a lot of different types of dance into their style (SOX actually practiced hip hop styles for five years before getting into locking). You can see SOX doing body rolls, some waacking (I think), plus some excellent isolation and hard stops that poppers would envy (that’s what people mean by saying her moves are “clean”).

Most importantly, she dances to the music. I didn’t properly understand this before I watched these locking clips. Look at her participation in the 2009 Funk for your feet competition. It’s very difficult to incorporate your entire body into the dance and keep your groove to the rhythm. SOX doesn’t stand stationary for very long in any position, incorporates a wide range of different types of movement, but she never loses her timing.

Another crucial quality is the ability to express a fun attitude to the audience. This often veers into purely comical gestures, but SOX manages to not resort to that. Watch the following battle (same competition) against the equally impressive Loose Canon. Look at how much fun and goodwill both of the dancers are able to express.


(The song is called “Why Leave Us Alone” by Five Special. Yes, I can’t stop listening to it either.)

See how well they play off of each other at 0:59. This turns the battle into a dynamic and interactive experience, which is very different from most of my battles (the below video skips directly to that part)

Some of this body gestures look so precise and on time, it borders on mime work. In the following clip, she does a guest appearance at Flowshow 2008 with fellow locker Mayumi.

At 0:24, Katie mimes being surprised by the sudden appearance of Mayumi, then expressing how impressed she’s with Mayumi’s dancing. It lasts only a split-second, but such details catch my attention immediately (again, below video skips directly to relevant part).

Now look at the quick changes of body poses and gestures (ditto). I don’t think I’ve seen something like this elsewhere.

I found something in Lee’s style of locking that I didn’t find in boogaloo. The need to listen to the music, express your fun attitude through your body gestures and poses, and to incorporate your whole body into a diverse set of movements instead of remaining stationary. I will always feel grateful for that.

I leave you with one interview that she gave before her 2008 Flowshow gig. She provides some information about herself and a quick explanation as to why she didn’t advance to the SYTCD finals. Dancers need to excel in a large number of choreography in these competitions instead of just one (Mr Fantastic and Pacman dropped out from the SYTYCD competition for similar reasons). I understand, but still think it’s a crime.

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