Posts Tagged ‘originality’

Beginners have the right to bite

January 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Beginners have the right to shamelessly steal from other dancers. They can take entire moves and routines from other dancers. This allows them practice on a daily level and gain their first experiences and influences. But to progress to higher levels, the beginner should slowly outgrow their initial influences and start coming up with their own style. Biting other people’s styles is not neccesarily a sign of having no creativity , integrityor skill; it may also signify that the dancer is not experienced enough at the moment to tap into his/her creativity.

A convo with Boppin Andre

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I befriended the legendary Boppin Andre on Facebook and asked him if he were willing to describe his practice methods and how he developed his unparalleled animation skills. Instead, we had a chat about originality, pioneers, and experimentation. I have never heard of a dancer saying he doesn’t practice and  I would put it down as false boasting if it didn’t come from such a great dancer like Andre..

Boppin Andre: You should first be aware that I do not train! I do not even practice. I just go withwhat i always have done and then throw in whatever I feel appropriate at the moment […]

Well, I guess that everytime i perform, that’s practice enough, but I feel that people practice to acquire skills and movements they dont have. I mean, they really practice hard to try and master someone else’s moves!
Outside of the robot, which I use to practice hard, when I was young (13-15), I also practiced popping at first (compton style popping, which came from EB’s and popping pete!..1977). After that, i made the connection and combo..bopping! I’ve not have to peactice since then, because i’m only doing me. It’s what I want to do, and as such I don’t have to practice or try to master it. It’s whatever i do!
I am however about to begin practicing. When i figure out how to go about trying to master or perfect someone else’s moves, I’ll be glad to share that!

LM: Well, would you say you spend a lot of time experimenting? Because your reply reminds me of how David Elsewhere explains how he developed is dance.

Hahaha, i don’t experiment..with nothing! Elsewhere both experiments and shares his movements with others.(skywalker, his influence, and squid , another share buddy!)

At one time, i incorporated some mime type moments into my repertoire; influenced by a guy nemed Robot Prince. But I only do me, and he, like eveyone else, watched, took and copied what they could, and some even best me at doing myself!

No my friend, nowadays I’m not original. In my prime, i was bar none. The most influential cat, bar none. Elements of my endeavors have been indirectly incorporated into almost every poppers performance. Popping Pete had the brake (drum). I brought the disc brake, and everybody, including Pete, use to disc brake! The vibrate; been there, I was the first moving vibrate. Sinbad/3d/strobe/animation/speed changes and the rythym riding instead of on the beat only popping (later perfected by my friend , flattop)

No my friend. I only do  my moves, and everybody else are doing my moves as well (in part or totally)!

LM: Do you feel that you have received the proper respect for your contributions by the current generation? Some OGs feel overlooked and betrayed.

Again there’s that word: “OG”. Wrong word to use by anybody! There are only a few cats that actually created or brung something new to the table, and only a few cats that are original/different! Everyone else could claim they saw, then went and practiced, and perhaps they became the best at it!

There are not many og’s. Sure, some were lucky to promote themselves and get onto tv, on stage, into film, but they only truely took the credit and income from the source. Many, myself included, were not soo lucky to get that opportunity

In the streets, OG is the identifying marker and title for the first! It’s like Senior and Jr, so most all of those guys trying to fluant the OG title are perhaps OG in name only. Perhaps they were pioneers. They didn’t create, but they took it into another arena. They were the first in that arena.

I’m the LA OG, or so i claim. I was not the first to pop, others did it before me, from different areas, around LA county. But to my knowledge I was the only South Central LA cat! Big deal! I am the originater, not of the robot/ not of popping, but of the combo-deal;.Bopping!

And i was an original! Today, I’m not so original. Perhaps there’s even questions as to if I am the best at even doing me ! But, i am the originator Anybody coming after me can not claim to be the first, and with that they can not be OG!

Click here for more of my interviews with streetdancers.

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.

Looking Elsewhere: The Road Less Travelled

July 24, 2010 2 comments

This is an entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophies. The quotes are derived from his myspace post. In this entry, I discuss the following quote.

Exploring where others haven’t – In dancing I have found that particular areas are easier to be original in than others. I think that certain styles are less explored than others and this leaves more room for innovation. From the artistic perspective, the less traveled path is usually always the more rewarding one and the one I have tried to stay on.

David Elsewhere. source

Without leaving their own art, the ingenious leave the common path and take, even in professions grey with age, new steps towards eminence.

Baltasar Gracian. A Pocket Mirror for Heroes. Trans. by Christopher Maurer. In Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, p. 349.

Wonders never amaze the second time around. How many looked in awe when the first bboys started doing windmills? Remember when the audience gasped when Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk at the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown? Now both of these moves are often seen as nostalgic throwbacks to the 80s.

Quickly losing amazement of the familiar represents one of the great tragedies of the human mind. Audiences quickly feel jaded by any spectacle. If you want to survive as a dancer in a certain field, you need to perform the moves better then the dancer before you. I’m new to the bboy world (just as an observer), and I’m in shock how well the foundations of today’s bboys are. You face a lot of competition as a bboy. There are thousands of others who practice the same moves you want to practice. They may be stronger, more talented, have more experience.

Creativity plays a very large part in streetdancing. We have the ability to throw off competition by dancing on our own terms, not the terms others put on us.

I haven’t seen any evidence that Elsewhere can boogaloo. I’ve not seen him perform most of the basic popping routines most poppers judge each other by. In all likelihood, he’d have to spend years learning these type of dance. And then he’d be an average boogaloo popper.

Elsewhere took a smarter route. Instead of competing in the same fields as the other poppers, he focused all his energy on developing his own moves and taking them further then other people would take them. Look at the first two dancers in the Kollaboration clip.

Although it’s hard to tell with only a few seconds of their performance, they have a solid foundation in their popping routine. But they look very bad in comparison with Elsewhere. He performed moves that nobody in the room had seen before. Perhaps some had seen strobing, but not the way Elsewhere strobed his hands crawling across his chest, his head twitching from side to side in rhythm. Liquid dancing and abstract waving was known to some degree (though it was a very underground movement). How many had seen a person melt into a puddle, though?

It was no contest. Elsewhere was fighting on his own terms, not the traditional popping battle field. I’ve watched the clip more often then I should have, but not once have any of the commenters said that the first two deserved to win.

Breaking away from the traditional path may frighten most dancers. You may feel left behind if you don’t train the same way other people do. How can you call yourself a bboy if you don’t train the same moves all the other bboys train? At some level, most of us want to be told what to do. If we follow these guidelines, we will develop the skills that we need, then we can call ourselves dancers, or bboys, or poppers. God knows that I have these thoughts many times, often severely.

The problem is, everybody else is doing the same routines you would if you followed this type of logic. You’ve spent a lot of time training for something that others do much better then you. It is easier to innovate in fields that other people neglect.

In a way this represents a god send for most streetdancers. Streetdancers often feel attracted to the bizarre, to the amazing, to the weird. Perhaps poppers in particular feel this way, because most movements are calculated to be “unreal” in some way. It seems natural that these dancers would start looking into the most obscure fields for inspiration. The more obscure the inspiration, the more bizarre the styles and moves, as logic dictates.

There are other benefits. Tutorials and workshops teach the most basic, well-known moves. The Youtube age has provided us with a lot more diversity and access, and you’d be amazed how easily you can find obscure footage. Sometimes you can only find one video clip, with only a few minutes (or a few seconds) of relevant footage, but that’s enough to get you on your way.

I spent a lot of time searching for strobing tutorials (forget about finding workshops teaching this stuff). The only helpful one I found was from Tyson Eberly. This represented perhaps five minutes of tutorial footage (Strobing tutorial begins at 11:45 of the clip below).

I took that and tried the best I could, but it represented an enormous amount of trial-and-error on my part to figure out what to do. I had to stay attentive to what I was doing and provide myself with constant feedback. My hands and fingers were not doing what they were supposed to do, and I had to figure out why by myself.

I felt frustration many times over, but at the same time, I felt great satisfaction. I was achieving results by relying on my own wits and ingenuity instead of practising the same drills without thought. It felt more like a creative process, and this translated into further passion, into more practice, and better dancing. I try to take this attitude now whenever I try something new. I will attempt to emulate the anti-gravity moonwalk (not the Michael Jackson moonwalk) that I once saw a dancer from Street Scape perform. It’s less than three seconds of footage from the 80s, but that’s enough to get me going on my way.

(I advise you to watch the entire clip. You’ll thank me for it.)

Yes, this approach requires you to trust your passion and judgement, practice on your own, and endure people resenting you for taking a new path. I believe it is worth the effort many times over.

We forget how free we can define our streetdance. We have work shops, judged battles, and dancers who consider themselves authorities on what popping, bboying, locking, or liquid “is”. But essentially, we can take the dance in any direction that we want, and how far we want. Nobody has the power to tell you where your passion should take you.

It is an uncommon skill to find a new path of excellence, a modern route to celebrity. There are many roads to singularity, not all of them well-travelled. The newest ones can be ardous, but they are often short-cuts to greatness.

Balthasar Gracian. In Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, p. 356

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