Posts Tagged ‘locking’

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.


Richie Rich: What is real streetdance?

July 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Some time ago, I saw a video of locker Richie Rich discussing how many people nowadays don’t dance “real” locking, but only incorporate some locking moves into their freesytle form. While I had no interest in criticising or insulting him, I did see this as an opportunity to express some thoughts of mine on originality, labels, and technique. Richie felt the same way and graciously replied to a series of statements I sent him over email. These exchanges happened more than a year ago, and I have reconsidered many of my points below, but I hope our exchange can clarify your own thoughts about what “real” streetdancing should be.

Liquid Metal: You can argue technique and form, but no one has the right to tell you what you should like in a dance. A person’s judgment is rarely perfect, but I believe one should always pursue the elements of a dance they feel an instant connection to. They should disregard everything else.

Richie Rich: I agree. That is how I was introduced and fell in love with locking. I went to a nightclub and saw a locking group perform. I was amazed at the things they did. Their routine was concise, tight and full of surprises. I instantly fell in love with the dance and the music they were dancing to. I liked certain aspects of the dance and not others, so I focused on the parts of the dance I liked!! I didn’t care what others opinions were. I learned my technique first, dance second and then the most important part the soul or emotion within the dance.

Liquid Metal: The previous statement does not give you the prerogative to disregard foundation. Many of the dance moves require you to learn basic exercises first before you attempt the actual moves.

Richie Rich: I again agree, but will add that you need to understand and learn the basic foundational moves, roots and the history of any dance. In turn, I think it is important to master these basic moves if you want to do the dance from a foundational standpoint. If you do not master them, I would recommend not entering contests that deal specifically with this dance style! I would also say that if you didn’t learn the basics and foundation, you really can’t call yourself that type of dancer (like a locker).

Liquid Metal: If you respect the dance and research everything about it, you are free to take it in any direction that you want, no matter what other people believe the dance should be.

Richie Rich: That is called innovation!!!! I think that this is a very important part of any dance and the evolution of that dance. The problem is that today people do not learn the basic moves, roots, history and foundation of these dances. They go to classes and learn choreography and not the elements mentioned in the previous statement. I will talk specifically about locking for the rest of this response. People think that because they learned some locking history and know a few basics about the dance that they can now innovate on this dance. It takes more then just basics to innovate on a dance. It takes passion, conviction, understanding, knowledge, soul and more then just basics to improve on this dance. Imagine if I learned some basic tap dancing moves and then tried to innovate on this style of dance. I would need more then a basic skill level to innovate a hundred of years of this evolving dance style. I believe this same premise applies to locking. Now if you do choose to innovate with just the basics, that is fine but I believe the dance will look like a more watered down version of locking. It will lose some of its street elements and authenticity. There are those rare cases that this may not apply and this person may just stumble onto something by accident. Actually, this is how locking was created. Don Campbell was attempting to do some soul dances and couldn’t seem to get it right. Then he started doing something else and people found it amusing and kept telling him to do it again and again. This was how the first moves of locking were created. So again I say it’s not impossible but unlikely. I will keep an open mind in that case!!

Liquid Metal: My main gripe with popping and locking is that they sacrifice expressive and dynamic movement in favor of specialized techniques. This attention to certain forms of technique escape the attention of most audiences (that aren’t familiar with the dance) and the dance looks limited.

Richie Rich: Finally, we can disagree on something!!! I find the major problem with locking today is the lack of the technique!! There are plenty of dynamic movements in locking and I feel people do too much of this and do not really lock or dance. They are doing flips, knee drops, dives, splits, butt drops, soul dances, etc… but they do not lock. Locking can incorporate many different moves if done within the locking framework of the dance.

Another issue is that most people, do not know the basic moves and foundations so instead add other dances into what they call locking. Basically, they are dancing doing locking moves and truly not locking. I would call that more of a freestyle dance. There is nothing wrong with that but call it freestyle not locking. I see this over and over again in LOCKING competitions.
The final issue is that of SOUL and FUNK! People think that acting funny or silly during there so called solos that this is soulful and funky. Soul and funk does not equal funny. When James Brown performed he was soulful and funky, there was a certain feeling about him and no one laughed while watching him dance or perform. I think it is great thing to have personality within the dance that makes you look more like an individual. Instead, because they really lack the soul and funk and ability to do the dance they act silly or fake the funk. Most lockers out there lack SOUL!!
Soul for me is defined as a person’s ability to take their own personal emotions and feelings and express them physically in their dance especially locking. “Our body is the instrument that plays the music.” If a dancer does not have soul, it waters down the true authentic style, essence, foundation and street element of any dance. I can write about this point forever but will stop here to let our debate begin and just touch on popping.

I am not an expert when it comes to popping but I will give my opinion. The boogaloo style has specific movements and techniques but popping has a lot more styles to choose from. That is why you have seen the rise and increased popularity of the G-style movement. They are saying that there is a lot more to popping then one style and that we should know them all and use them all. I again disagree with you when you say popping sacrifices self expression. I believe popping allows self expression and has dynamic movements and that is why popping is so popular. I’ve seen many poppers that are great at expressing themselves while doing dynamic movements. This does not just apply for the popping superstars but for poppers that have not reached that status yet!! I say again, this is not my area of expertise and just my opinion.

Liquid Metal: I believe that the reason for the downfall of mainstream interest in streetdances (starting in 1988) came from the audience being flooded by sub-par performances. They rarely experienced the great performers that took the dance seriously. Because of this, they quickly made their mind that streetdancing itself was a bad artform.

Liquid Metal: I have to disagree due to the fact that streetdancing is bigger then ever. Some of the biggest shows on TV are dance shows such as ABDC, movies and the events around the world are bigger such as the Juste DeBout. The skill level of dancers has improved and I even see a large number of kids dancing and their skill level is incredible for their ages (Baby boogaloo, lil Demon, Jalean, etc..) I think streetdancing continues to grow and so does respect for these dances as an artform.

Raw interview: Scramblelock (part 1)

August 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Meet the great locker from Canada, Scramblelock. From teaching classes to organising events like Funk Fo Yo Feet, he has done so much for the dance community and deserves our gratitude. Some of my favourite dance battles came from the events he organised, and he has helped me realise how important it is to dance to the music.
The interview is divided into three parts. A link at the end of each post directs you to the subsequent part.

You write that you started bboying in 1998 as a result of facing bullying in school. How did dance help you deal with conflict?

It’s funny, one of the kids I grew up with in elementary school went from being a close friend to a bully once we got to high school. The first school dance I went to, I witnessed a bboy circle and was blown away. I knew about breakdancing since I was really young, my uncle introduced me to it in the 80s through Michael Jackson, but I had never seen it live and with that kind of energy. Then I saw that one bully go in and was really surprised. The next day he got all sorts of compliments and respect from people and it really frustrated me. I said “if he can do that, I can do it better!” Long story short, after a few months of practicing on my own when we came back to school the next year people were shocked to see I was able to break. I remember at one point even that bully came up to me and gave me props. After that I never really got picked on as much as that first year so to answer your question dance was my escape and it served to diffuse what could have been a really negative situation throughout high school. Some of my best memories in high school were meeting a really good group of friends and all of us used to practice in a hallway during lunch. That was where I formed my first bboy crew: Rubber Soulz! Much respect to those guys!

What roles do you believe that ego, competition, and aggression play in bboying and other streetdances?

First off, ego to me is a negative thing. Having an ego blinds you from seeing where you really stand skillwise. Honestly, in the street dance world, you got to be able to check your ego before you can really start learning from anyone, including yourself. However, I believe having confidence is something very different and much more important. Having confidence in yourself is one of the gifts one can gain from studying bboying, locking, popping, whatever dance you pursue. If you are honestly aware of your own abilities, I think it helps you see much more of the big picture and where you fit into the scheme of things.

As for competition and aggression they play an important role in all street dances as well. Having competition can be very motivating. It can push you to reach new levels so long as you keep it positive. I’ve always liked battles and contests not necessarily for the winning, prizes, recognition, etc. but being able to test yourself. Winning is dope but walking away knowing what you need to work on and improve is way more rewarding.

I think it’s ok to be aggressive too but there’s a time and a place for it as well. Battles can get intense sometimes whether in a contest or in the circles so sometimes you need to step up that power in your dance. Sometimes when Im dancing there’s so much going on in my mind (stress, frustration, etc) that letting out that aggression through dance is almost therapeutic too. It really comes down to knowing how to handle the aggression and being able to channel it constructively.

What were the reactions of your family and friends? Did any of them provide an influence in your dance?

Well my parents were always tough on me for wanting to dance, they always stressed me to focus more on school. They were right, of course, and I’m glad I listened to them. Finishing off my Masters in Chemistry last year was a huge accomplishment and I couldnt have done it without them. But like I said they always gave me a hard time when it came to dancing. In a way, that was really motivating though. It made me work harder to show them I can do something with dance and when they see I’ve been able to travel, teach, etc I think it really opened them up to it a bit more. We made a deal back when I was in school: Finish school, then do whatever you want. So here I am finished with school and I’m really trying to do something positive with dance.
As for the rest of my family, they were always supportive of what I was doing so I’m very thankful for that and of course I have a lot of close friends who have shown nothing but love and support since the beginning. My girlfriend has always been supportive of what I do and that also means a great deal to me.

Click here for part 2 of the interview!

Raw interview: Scramblelock (part 2)

August 21, 2010 1 comment

What led you to pursue locking in 2000?

At the time locking was a mysterious dance. People were talking about it and there were a few videos I managed to find (VHS not youtube!) but there was still very little known about the dance. It was through theĀ forums where I first saw some interesting discussions of locking from Gemini, Richie Rich and Sundance and that really sparked interest. I wanted to learn more about this mysterious dance and see what it actually looked like as opposed to reading about it. I saw a clip of Loose Caboose doing a showcase at Freestyle Session 3 and when I saw this energy and funk, which was something very different from bboying, I was sold! A few years after I met the Fantastic Poppers from Toronto and those guys showed me tapes of The Lockers and really broke down the basic foundations of the dance. After that it was on!

You took classes from such prominent lockers like Don Campbell and Skeeter Rabbit. Which locking dancers were the greatest influence on you, and from which did you learn the most in the classes.

Much respect to all the lockers Ive been fortunate enough to have met in the last few years. They have all influenced and taught me many valuable lessons. The ones who have had the greatest influence on me are as follows:

Licorice Lloyd – my first locking teacher. He was the one that put me on to the foundations and history of locking

Richie Rich – Richie was the first locker I met when I visited LA for the first time. He told me “don’t ever let anyone tell you you are doing anything wrong, but always remain open and learn from everybody!”. Richie has a really positive approach to locking and he’s been more than just a teacher, he’s become a mentor and friend. He’s taught me a lot about battling and just getting down too.

Gemini – Gemini has been a huge influence on me. He’s like the Obi Wan Kenobi of locking. He’s done his homework and I think one of the few out there that truly understands the full picture of locking. The level he is at is ridiculous! He’s travelled and learned from many different dancers and that really inspired me to do the same. Again he is someone else who has become a mentor to me and is now a good friend too.

OG Skeet – I got in touch with the original Skeeter Rabbit late 2004 after he returned to the locking scene. The stories he’s shared and the feeling he has when he teaches/locks has really opened me up to the real roots of this dance and the true power of locking.

Loose Caboose – Caboose taught me to take my time when I dance. Many people rush through their moves but Caboose taught me to breathe and really take the time to complete my sets. He can take a few moves most people can do in 30 sec and stretch it out to 1-2min. Caboose is full of funk and when he gets down you can really feel it!

Greg Campbellock Jr (RIP) – I think he’s touched everyone in some way before he passed away earlier this year. I managed to meet up with him several times in between 2005 and 2008. He was another original in the game and everything he shared I consider gems!

Also have to mention Flo Master, Suga Pop, Fluky Luke, Don Campbell, Peekaboo, Jazzy J, Frank Boogie and Disco Dave. Much respect!

I have found a large number of talented dancers that live in Canada. Is the Canadian dance scene particlarly vibrant? How much private support and government support do the dance events receive in Canada?

Canada has a lot of talented dancers. From Vancouver to Calgary/Edmonton/Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec and even out east in Halifax and Newfoundland there are dancers growing and developing. I can’t speak for the West Coast or the Maritimes since I havent been out there in a while, but I can tell you there are a lot of dope dancers in Toronto, Ottawa and especially Montreal. From bboys to poppers, lockers, waackers, krumpers, hiphop dancers and house dancers. Montreal is particularly vibrant. As for support, there is and there isn’t support for events. Just last weekend in Montreal there was a really cool Hip Hop festival called Under Pressure that unites Graf writers, MCs, DJs and bboys/bgirls. Every May there is an event called Bust A Move and it got sponsorship from the City of Montreal this year which was pretty cool. Slowly things are growing!

Click here for part 3 of the interview!

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.

To see showcases of other dancers, click here. If you’d like to receive automatic notification of all updates, click here for the RSS feed.

Michi Kasuga’s new website

June 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Our old friend Michi Kasuga has a new website and is now posting clips of his dancing again. This is a big deal because he hasn’t posted any for more than a year. I’ve seen his newest clips, and they don’t disappoint (although Michi is the last one to boast about his skills).

His actual blog posts deal mostly with his personal life and thoughts (which is a sharp turn from his old website). His candor and thoughtful approach to subjects impresses me deeply. I will make a habit of posting comments whenever I can.

While you’re at it, subscribe to his youtube channel so you can check out his newest performances. You could also read my interview feature with him (one of the first I ever wrote). You’ll then understand why he was an inspiration for me. Still is.