Moves in The Movement

Watching the video to Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” is a powerful experience of the spirit of fun, sass and youthful confidence.

Just by watching this video I get an idea of the head-space of the people represented here; who they are as well as how they see their world. I’m watching this video and emotionally connecting to ideals. Justin Bieber himself isn’t in the video (except in the music of course) yet I feel his presence somehow in every colour-bursting scene. How is this even possible? It’s well shot and brilliantly executed, sure, but why do I (like close to a billion and a half others and counting) connect to this video so much? It’s because of the power of dance. The ability of body movement to stir up emotion. Not surprisingly, this power is pillar of hip hop culture.

Hip Hop Dance and Breaking represent two sides of an interesting coin when it comes to the culture. While both require discipline, dexterity, incredible levels of talent and commitment, the dance forms appeal to two vastly different hip hop heads. Breaking or B-Boying seems to be more orthodox in its makeup, holding true-school values of authenticity dear. When I close my eyes and think of this iteration of the art-form I see a Kung-Fu master in the woods with white hair and a long wispy beard: I see Pai Mei from the movie Kill Bill. Beast! When I think of Hip Hop Dance an image of Bruce Lee instantly comes to mind. Also, Beast! This side of the dance coin is much more progressive, more tolerant of the times and readily malleable. Both of these built on the foundations of hip hop, evolving in the hands of young people that champion the movement.

My ongoing study of the impact of hip hop in Africa is about trying to understand the people it affects better. Just by looking at what b-boys and b-girls wear you can learn plenty about where they are culturally. The combination of dance moves they choose to adopt then adapt into an African context using current local trends is also telling. Next time you’re able to immerse yourself in the hip hop dance scene in your area, pay attention to what the moves say about the dancer. You’ll be surprised what insights you glean from it.

On this week’s episode of AboveGround we explore these ideas in detail. We go in-depth with our analysis of the differences and similarities between the two sides of this dance coin. Finally, we get to hear first hand from two iconic figures on the African dance scene with a touching story of how break-dancing took one of them from the Cape Flats to the world.

A new episode of AboveGround is on ETV every Saturday at 18:30

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