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Another Dance Controversy: Hip Hop Crews on Trains

 

dancers hang from the rafters

Hip Hop crew Tylive makes creative use of the subway  props

The other day on BART, three young hip hop dancers looking like street thugs started dancing and passing a hat.  They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad either.  And they were doing something joyful that took skill and not a little hard work and practice, for the pleasure of onlookers.  For money, yes, but they exerted no pressure, and they obviously took pride in their achievement.  I put a buck in the hat, thanked them, and told them they made my day.  They beamed in appreciation of the compliment.  Other passengers enjoyed the performance as well.  How often do you get live entertainment on public transportation?

 

In this clip you can see real pros at the top of their game busking for a tough crowd: New York subway riders.  I’d have been thrilled to have gotten to see these guys, but even so, the first youtube comment calls them criminals and urges subway patrons to report them.  “These so called dancers are nothing more than criminal beggars!” he rants.

 

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Granted, not everyone likes Hip Hop, but to call these guys “so called dancers” bespeaks a serious shoulder chip.  Whatever your opinion of people busking on the subway, these dudes can DANCE.  It does make me wonder, though, why so much anger?  Yes, it’s illegal.  And if amateurs had a go at this level of gymnastics it would be downright dangerous, but these dancers were highly skilled and very much in control.  Would he have had the same reaction if a team of white Olympic gymnasts had taken to the racks of his subway car?

 

So what’s really going on here?  Hip Hop is an African American street dance.   It reflects a very specific culture.  Not just black, but ghetto black.  My last post about a dance controversy was about people’s reaction to fat dancers on stage.  When someone has a visceral, angry reaction to art, there is usually deep seated prejudice of some kind behind it.  Fat prejudice for Australia’s Nothing to Lose, racism in New York’s subway for the Tylive Crew.

 

It’s my vision statement to do my best to contribute to a world in which people break out into spontaneous dance in inappropriate places, so you know where I stand on this controversy.  But I also like to see people, including myself, take a look at the reactions we have to art and question the validity of what’s behind them.  After all, that’s part of the job of art, isn’t is?

 

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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And ANOTHER Use of Dance for the Public Safety

 

figure dancing in a traffic light

The Dancing Traffic Light in Action!

I think this might be my favorite example yet of using dance to save people from themselves.  In the spirit of using fun to get people to change negative behavior, (and what can be more fun than dancing?) the dancing traffic light was an idea to see if people would resist the temptation to jaywalk at a dangerous corner if it was more fun to wait for the light.

 

Not only was it a fun and clever idea, but it actually worked!  Some people chose to dance with the dancing traffic light and some just enjoyed watching it (and maybe the people dancing with it) but nearly everybody actually waited for the light to change before crossing the street.  What a great combination of creativity, joy, dance, fun, and public service!

 

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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Dance Prank in Texas

Electric Slide

These dancers are doing the Electric Slide voluntarily!

Here’s a new take on spontaneous dancing in the streets.  Unlike the people in the photo, the people in this hysterical video all thought they were being tested for alcohol impairment while driving.  Notice how much fun they’re having in spite of the supposed seriousness of the situation.  Dancing is just plain fun, and these people who think they’ve been stopped by the police can’t help feeling delighted by the whole experience.  The dance, by the way, is the Electric Slide, a popular and fairly simple line dance.  A lot of Texan’s know it, but not the people in this video!

By LaurieAnn Lepoff

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