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A note from Mr. Vince to all students: The Lasting Physical Treasure of Hip Hop Dance
Hip Hop Dance is a training of the body, among other attributes as well. We do not always consider all of the reasons why one might go on the journey of learning hip hop. The origin of Hip Hop Dance is rooted in community conversation. The dance is a way that folks communicate with one another while also relating to other cultural features like music or art. People often come to the dance as a hobby. For some it becomes a career aspiration, whether they are interested in performing, teaching or competitions. Regardless, Hip Hop Dancers are bound to discover, very early on, that their pursuit is athletic as mush as it is artistic. For some, like the worldâs top bboys, it is argued that it is more sport like then art like, hence why breaking has entered the Olympics.
The lasting value in something like Hip Hop Dance is that the potential for growth and learning never stops. Dance in itself is an immediate function in human life. Anyone can dance, regardless of their skill. For example, Iâve been to weddings and have witnessed 80 year old relatives dancing in celebration. Imagine being 80 years old and continuing to explore and develop your dance.
There are unique differences between sports that are based on a one-dimensional task vs. those that are multi-dimensional. Running, although there can be many subtleties, has fewer variables that need to be considered than say playing basketball. Basketball has the aspect of running, while there is also ball handling, team coordination, shooting, passing and the list goes on. There are great benefits for our mind when we engage in physical activities that are multi-dimensional, activities that force us to problem solve. This isnât taking anything away from running. Afterall, there are few that rise to the top of running based sports. And it is not a simple feat to run a long distance race. We might observe in our society that there are more people that run recreationally than playing Basketball recreationally. This might be due to the fact that many people stop Basketball because it is more difficult to maintain the skill. For many, it becomes less interesting when the competitive element of it diminishes as we age. Running for many is a meditation and even a battle against themselves. Many benefit from it. Still there are limits to its complexity.
Dancing has many of the same attributes as running. Hip Hop Dancers are certainly in battle with themselves as they work to acquire new abilities. Like any other sport, there is a need to grow strength, endurance and technique. Many sports are also creative. However, as a dance athlete, your limits in creativity are expanded in the pursuit of art and expression. A dancer can use the gestures of other sports and activities while exploring abstractions of the body. Dance may very well be one of the most expansive explorations that one can make with their body.
The great treasure of dance is that it can be with us always, never stagnating. It gives us broad variance in how we can train our bodies and amuse ourselves simultaneously. You can even adjust its intensity whenever needed. And 80 year old might not have the best joint health for running. Iâll argue that an 80 year old can likely adapt their joints more easily to dance. In fact, their joints might benefit from the dance. Think of Tai Chiâs benefits to the elderly. And Tai Chi presents very similarly to dance, some arguing that it is an ancient medicinal dance.
â Learning Hip Hop Dance opens up the possibility of having a much more rich relationship to our bodies as we move through various stages of life. Yes many of us will run, swim and cycle into adulthood. This is what the majority do for exercise and recreation. But how much more colorful could their adulthoods be if they also knew the process of building through dance. This is a treasure that Movemakers Philly Hip Hop Dance Kids will carry through life.
95 year old Roy Haynes playing the drums. The roll of the drummer is similar to the dancer. The drummer has to have specific physical abilities that are focused for artistic expression. Can we imagine how Roy Haynes would dance if he were a dancer at this age?
The Airflare was created by Break Dancers, but Gymnasts have appropriated the movement. Well Breakers owe the gymnasts, because Breakers borrowed Thomas Flares from gymnastics years ago. The years active of a breaker are usually much more than the years active of a gymnast. This often puzzles me. The reason that we can often come to is that gymnasts stop when they are no longer fit for competition. Bboys and Bgirls keep dancing, because it is their communication within a special commmunity. Bboys and Bgirls can adapt and find new ways of developing when theyâve outgrown their peak levels of athleticism. Gymnasts donât seem to have the same motivation to adapt as they age in order to maintain their practice.
I am still growing as a dancer, movement artist and athlete. Iâve taken on the learning of styles like Tutting, that I was not working on in my early stages as a dancer. This practice of tutting started in 2020. Also in my late 20s I took up gymnastics tumbling. I am 34 now. I look forward to the tumbling skills I will be doing well into my future. I owe my ability to explore these various forms of complex movement as an adult to early explorations of hip hop that started when I was 12. The cool thing is that I have heroes and friends my age and older that I can look up to for inspiration. They are much more advance than me! I love that they are still going too, without plans of stopping anytime soon.
Dan Perez, an expert Martial Arts Tricker with advance tumbling knowledge
Ryan Webb aka Future one of the most renown tutters in the world