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Posts Tagged ‘popin pete’

New Otis Funkmeyer article on Westcoastpoppin.com

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Our old friend Otis Funkmeyer started writing popping articles on westcoastpoppin.com again. You can read the entire article here, but let me give you a reader’s digest version with these three quotes that really blew my mind.

I realized recently that the way I was taught waving, the way I teach waving, the way every single person I have ever met (except PacMan) teaches the arm wave, is wrong. It’s not how the best wavers wave. Simple as that.
And it got me thinking. The best dancers are the best DANCERS. They aren’t necessarily the best teachers. But eventually, people come along and they go, shit, how do you do that?!!? And so the best dancers are forced to become teachers. But they don’t actually know how they do what they do, so they just try different ways of teaching. Eventually, one of them sticks, and they just run with it. Then their students get good and become teachers and this method, which was not necessarily even a good method, let alone the best method, becomes the standard way that things are taught.

What I’m trying to say is this. We all got taught popping wrong. The way I got taught is wrong. The way you got taught is wrong. It’s all wrong. You want the proof??? The way that people teach is NOT the way that people dance. When I was in Calgary in 2004 learning Electric Boogaloo Style Popping from Boogaloo Sam himself, he doesn’t dance like that. He doesn’t just do the fresno. He doesn’t actually dance like that. That’s just some routine he came up with. When you seen him dance, boy, that man was GANGSTA BOPPIN. Hard ass robot. Hard ass dimestops. Clean. Quick. Shakes. Everything HARD. The fresno doesn’t teach you that. It teaches you to be on beat. On rhythm. On time. Loose and funky. But not HARD.

The arm wave is the same way. All the best wavers I know curl their fingers as the wave comes out. Nobody does that dorky upside-down-V thing that is how the wave is always taught. Why? Because it doesn’t look as good. It looks better to curl your fingers on the way out.

See, the way I teach popping, the way I was taught popping, is that you should be loose and relaxed and then when it’s time to hit, you QUICKLY tense and then QUICKLY relax again. See, this is actually a very good way to teach Japanese people who can’t dance and White Americans who can dance even less than that. Because when we see popping, we get so damn tense it looks uncomfortable. But the problem is that the baby gets thrown away with the bathwater. The best dancers ALL have that tension. That’s part of the unreal looking of popping. Even boogaloo at its highest levels is dope because it DOESN’T LOOK REAL. If you don’t have the unreal, robotic, animated, gangsta look with your popping, you are partially missing the point.

Youtube quickie: Popin Pete at Old School Night vol 10

August 24, 2010 2 comments

You know what? I don’t think I properly understood how good Popin Pete’s dancing really is until I saw this clip the other day. Credit goes to hanx036 for putting this up.

Raw interview: Poppin John (part 1)

July 3, 2010 Leave a comment

That’s right, that’s right. I was able to score a monster interview with Poppin John from Soulbotics crew. To understand why he’s one of my top influences in dancing, read my feature on him. The depth of his answers surprised me, and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

The interview itself is divided into three separate parts. There is a link at the end of each post to the next section. I have added some links whenever he mentions a dancer, plus I added some video and my comments whenever appropriate.

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a very small town called Farmington in the Northwest corner of New Mexico. My childhood was amazing there but when I started to creep my way into the entertainment side of life, it definitely was not the right place to be. But that being said, I do think I have come up with many moves and concepts because I was learning by myself with not a lot of influences in town.

2. What got you into dancing, and why did you specialize in popping?

Well, my very first dance experience was at a family reunion. We camped in a big campground in Colorado, I think. But anyway, there was a small like dance room in the main building of the campground and they had DJ get down on the weekends, so my dad took me and my cousins. I was about 11 years old. My cousin Jason could do a few new jack swing moves like top rock-ish. I was super amazed because I hadn’t even thought about dancing in my whole life until that moment. After that, I went to my 7 grade first school dance and BOOM girls and music….”That’s it, I need to learn how to dance”….

Everyone was just standing around, and then I saw a circle on the other side of the gym. There were 2 kids breakin in the circle. When I walked up, one was doing a backspin. The other answered with the worm. That moment I know that this was the type of dance I wanted to do.

So that night I went home and learned how to do the worm (haha, everybody starts somewhere). I laid my mirror down on the ground and watched myself attempt this move that I wanted to learn so bad. One night of practice: the next school dance I was worming my ass off. That was my first dance experience.

Me and a few friends started a crew and started battling other crews. It was crazy. There were 7 or 8 crews in my small town in like 99, and we would hash it out at the skating ring. It was so dope, we thought we were the shit, pulling out routines and all kinds of tricks. So one night at the ring one of my friends told me that I have the best arm waves, and he asked me to repeat it over and over…that moment really stuck in my mind.

I was breaking and poppin, but never at the same time! For some reason, thank God, I always treated the dances as completely different things. I was in a crew called Foundations of freedom and it was all bboys and one bgirl, and I was the one who could pop. After a couple of years of practicing both I decided to give bboying a break and focus on poppin. I have been addicted ever since.

3. What were the reaction of your parents and peers to your dancing passion?

Well, the first reaction of my peers was pretty much 50/50. One side was like “DOPE, I wanna learn”, and the other side was a bunch of haters. You know how it is, and in a small town everybody has an opinion. But my parents have been down since day one. For real, my parents are a big reason for me taking dance to the next level and perusing it as a career. But after I developed a pretty good skill level, it was rare when I got negative feed back from anybody, really.

4. How did you come to the conclusion to pursue dancing full-time and travel around the world?

Well, the first time I really thought about traveling the world was when I started to watch bboy battle videos. Seeing dancers from all over the globe come and compete in the same place was so dope to me. My pops started taking us to jams in the surrounding cities when they did go down. From those experiences, I turned into a battle cat, always ready to through down. To this day, I can’t seem to get rid of the desire to compete.

To take dancing as a career really started with my father. He made it known that he wanted me to pursue whatever I wanted to do in life and to not get stuck punching a clock and be unhappy. So then the idea of my website www.learn2bust.com started up, and a few years later, the plans became reality. Now I have students all over the globe learning form my videos. Its an amazing feeling, being able to teach the things I have picked up throughout my dance career.

Click here for part 2 of the interview.

Raw interview: Poppin John (part 2)

July 3, 2010 1 comment

5. Which dancers and teachers made the greatest impression on you at the beginning (and has this changed nowadays)?

So when I first started out poppin, I thought there were 5 poppers in the world (hahah). Salah, Mr.Wiggles, Poppin Pete, Bionic, and PopnTaco.

That soon changed when I started traveling and meeting poppers from nowhere and everywhere. I felt so small. I thought I was a beast and then realized that I was just a kid that had a few good waves. Salah was a big influence when I was beginning. I was amazed by his battle attitude and how he always had the crowd wrapped around his finger….I still feel the same about Salah, and after teaming up with him to battle in Juste Debout, I have so much respect and love for him. He definitely is super humble and very professional. A very good person all around and a good friend of mine now. It was a dream come true dancing with him…

Wigz was the first popper I ever know existed and I would say he was the biggest influence of mine…I watched a wigz tape over and over and over trying to learn moves and techniques. Now wigz is the person I go to for advice on my dance and business. He always has the time to answer me, and he was and always will be a huge influence of mine.

During the first 5 years of my dance, I decided I wanted to be a boogaloo popper…all the poppin jams were full of them and I really didn’t fit in with any of them. So that was a big focus of mine. I wanted to boog sooooo bad, so I bought a Poppin Pete tape and he broke down a lot of boog positions, and I started to boog in this period of my dance career. I was learning very slow. I really couldn’t find the feel of boog and the positions were foreign to me. But I stuck with it. A couple years went by and I had been to a few more big jams freestyle session. I saw J-Rock win freestyle session 8 and that’s what I wanted my dance to look like. But it wasn’t happening so I still kept pushing it…

I just couldn’t feel it one day, and I said “Fuck it, bro. I’m gonna do me.” I started looking in the mirror, seeing what I liked. I always loved it when I saw a popper get really “clean”… isolated, animated, clean waves. Popn Taco’s a beast in my book and always will be.

[Liquid Metal: I second that opinion on PopNTaco]

So Poppin Pete was an influence of mine when I really wanted to fit in with the boog world, but not so much now. I think he is amazing and a legend, but not really what I’m going for in my dance. Nowadays, I get influenced by everyday students of mine and my crew Soulbotics . But I try to influence myself and learn new things by myself. Its easy to watch videos on youtube now and really pick up that persons feel without knowing it, so I try to stay conscience of that and try to keep my own feel.

[Liquid Metal: This echoes my post Youtube is our friend and enemy]

6. What does your daily practice session consist of (including any supplementary conditioning and flexibility training)?

Daily practice consists of a studio solo session for 1 to 2 hours. Then I have choreo practice for 1 hour. I put a wall up for myself a few years ago and said I was not good a choreo. Now im trying to break that mental block, so I jam out with a crew in El Paso. I have been getting pretty good.

Then after that studio session I head home and change, go off to the club to really session. When I’m in the studio I “practice”, and when I go out I “session”. They are very different in my book. When I practice, I practice styles. When I session, I transition in and out of different styles, flip styles, and really connect with the music.

As far as warm up and flexibility goes, I really don’t focus too much on those. I just GET DOWN as hard as I can.

7. What is the most common mistake beginning poppers make, and what advice should all new poppers know?

I think a big mistake beginning poppers make is trying to cut corners. I feel there are no short cuts in this dance . You have to learn the techniques of poppin and the styles of poppin before you can execute “moves”. I see many beginners just jumping from move to move to move, but they don’t have the control or technique to execute them…but I can also say that’s not a mistake, its just how it is today. I feel that those dancers are doing all they can with the skill level they have. If they stick with it, they will eventually learn the techniques and control. So I would say the mistake is not knowing that there is a lot of technique to learn before you can make moves look good.

And that brings me to my advice. You have to practice as much as possible to get better. This dance is a life long dance, meaning it takes YEARS to learn many of the techniques that are in poppin. So my advice is to never take a break. Always practice and try to find motivation in every situation to train more. When I lose, I train. When I win, I train. When I feel that I’m not as good as this guy, I train. When I feel I have a high skill level than this guy, I train. I find that fire in every situation to practice more.

8. What are your thoughts on the competitive nature of popping, and how should one deal with the success of others?

Well, when I started dancing that’s what it was all about. In battling, I was sooo hungry and I wanted to prove myself in every circle. I learned so much about winning losing and using it all for motivation.

But there are a few things that I would like to say about the competitive nature of poppin. Be careful not to get too caught up in the drama of this dance. We can forget that it is a positive thing and we do it because we love the dance and the music. If you cant take losing very well then you should not battle. You are putting your dance in front of someone to judge it and critique it. If that is something that will hurt you don’t put your self in that position.

That being said, competing is a huge part of my life and I cant seem to get away from it. It is tough at times to take a loss and also to take a big win. You can’t let either of them get to your head too much. And about the success of others: the way I look at it, the better other poppers do, the better it is for the whole dance. I believe that we have the most talented people in this culture and we should all get exposure and the fruits of hard work. This dance is hard to learn, and when that much time is put into anything, I think there should be rewards greater than personal expression. But that just is my view. There are many people who view that subject differently… But to be successful in this industry you have to work hard and go get it you can’t just stand around and wait for the opportunities to knock at your door.

Click here for part 3 of the interview.

Looking Elsewhere: Youtube is our friend and enemy

June 28, 2010 2 comments

This is the third entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophies. The quotes are derived from his myspace post.

Relying on my memory and not videos for reference – Like most people I have the natural tendency to subconsciously imitate movements I am frequently exposed to. I feel videos have the potential of doing more harm than good because multiple viewings make me more disposed to mimicry. Seeing Skywalker and Animation bust only on a few occasions prevented me from directly imitating them because all I had to go by was the memories in my head. Using memory alone as reference allows my creativity to manipulate external influence into something that is more of my own innovation.

This principle surprised me the most. If it weren’t for internet video clips, I never would have started dancing in the first place. For the first time in history, I have the ability to watch the greatest dancers in the world perform, no matter how remote i am from the hub of the dance community. I can receive expert tutorials without relying on dance teachers near my region. This is the first time that everyone in the world has access to this treasure trove of inspiring videos, and every dance style has the chance to spread like wild fire on a global scale. How could anyone denounce this?

But one issue nagged at me. Looking at the small selection of popping and bboy clips that survived from the late 70s and 80s, I am often in awe of the originality of the dancers. Granted, some elements of those dances may seem dated, even corny. But in other respects, the skill and creativity of the old school dancers overwhelmed me. The art of animation, vibration and floats/slides were more advanced in the 1980s then today.

And here’s the central question: How did the urban youth of the time, with almost no guidance from video clips or formal teachers, learn these incredible creative moves?

This question rose up again in my interview with Otis Funkmeyer. He wrote that having less access to footage proved to be an advantage for him and his fellow poppers. They were always “hungry”. Youtube offered too much eye-candy and didn’t produce the army of skilled dancers that he expected would come out of this trove of videos.

A few interviews with the OG poppers (from Westcoastpoppin.com) showed similar sentiments.

What do you think is the major differences between todays scene and before?

[…] We looked within our imagination. Many stylese came out in a short period of time, and those styles got flipped by the next person, you took the ball and ran with it your way. Today, many cats emulate thier dance from the sorce they are studing to learn it from. That, in my opinion, takes away some of the creative process that takes place when figuring out styles, moves, transitions, etc, yourself.

-Midnight, source

I think it’s all coo for videos and clips, but people have to remember to look at these clips for inspiration not for biting and copying verbatim. Peeps need to take from what they watch and twist it to there own sh^t. or if they are beginners, bite a lil until you are able to understand the dance better, and then change what you have bittin to your own sh&t.
Mr Wiggles, source.

We keep hearing that back in the day, no one danced like each other. Please explain.

First of all back then we didn’t have any video cameras to record different people we were lucky to ketch soul train so see the soul train line and watch the different dancers. […] everybody got there reps of there originality and being different.
-Shallow, source)

After long periods of reflection, I began to see some truth in these statements. I came up with a number of ways that people can abuse the dance clips that are meant to inspire us. I will come back to these and discuss them individually in later posts, but I will now focus on Elsewhere’s objection to mimicry. Elsewhere distrusts the ability to replay the clips over and over again, because it induces the viewer to mimic what he sees instead of inspiring them to take their style in a new direction. He elaborated on this in an interview with Oye Mag.

With all the people and dance styles that have come before you, how do you stay original?
That’s hard. I think that in the very beginning when most people start, it’s kind of necessary to copy people. But once your dancing matures I think videos can be a little unhelpful. You can watch them over and over again so you’re kind of brainwashing yourself into wanting to dance like that. I’m not saying that videos are a bad thing. I’m saying that they are good to some degree, but I just think that they are easily abused.

I like going to events and seeing someone dance, then going home and not being able to watch them again. When you don’t have the ability to watch something over and over again, your mind kind of manipulates the memory into something different. Then when you go home and have that vision in your head, it becomes your own interpretation.

Not being able to rewatch video clips therefore has advantages. It means that you may remember a cool move, but you can’t remember every aspect of the illusion. These gaps in your memory means that you have to stay inventive and come up with your own ways to achieve the illusion. In the process, you stay hungry and attentive. Your mind isn’t allowed to remain lazy because it can’t rely on mimicry. This process is more valuable then actually learning the move itself. It will feed into your originality, and give you the impetus to create your own moves and style.

Let’s look at an example that illustrates this. Mr Wiggles accidentally created his famous knee slide because of a misunderstanding. He heard that Popin Pete performed a moved called the knee slide. Mr Wiggles hadn’t seen Pete do it, but he assumed it was a back-slide (now called the moonwalk) performed on the knees. He practiced so long until he figured a way to pull it off. He did the move in the movie Beat Street and in a performance for the president.

It was only much later that he found out that Popin Pete’s knee slide was nothing like a knee moonwalk (it was more like the ET walk). Not being able to see the move even once, he used his imagination and created a completely new move.

I’m not saying to stop watching video clips altogether. They expand your understanding and can lead you into something new and exciting. Watch as many different clips of different styles for inspiration (I’ll come back to this point in Looking Elsewhere: Mixing Styles). But the clips can make you dependent and decouple you from your own imagination. Refrain from rewatching the same clips over and over again, because it will do you little good.

If you’d like to read all of the Looking Elsewhere entries, click here. If you’d like to receive automatic updates on all entries, click here for RSS feeds.