- Too groove, the Hip-Hop
- You are fed up with severe dance lessons
without taste or colours, tired with endless and pleasureless
aerobic courses ? You are right on the mood for a hip-hop therapy
: definitively, a dance in the move, for pleasure and wealth.
- Text and photos by Jean-François
- "I used to practice modern-jazz
dance... What an old-fashioned music, such as Flashdance, and
the girls' look with their fluorescent tights, Marie explains,
being a 26-years-old fair woman working in an office in Paris.
- One day, I saw men having great
fun with their ghetto blaster in Les Halles. The following day,
I subscribed for hip-hop lessons with a friend of mine and for
two years on now, we have never missed a course !"
- Where does it come from ? the hip-hop is everywhere in the streets,
in clips, in movies and now in dancing schools along with tap
courses, jazz and tango... it took 15 years for the dancing officials
to welcome the hip-hop in their family. Because it was born in
the streets, in the black ghettos of new York city by the end
of the 70s.
- It reached Europe by the 80s.
Since then, the movement increased with variations : break, sol,
hype, slow-motion, electric-boogie...
- The best way of smurfing
: "Dance companies
are looking for hip-hop specialists, Lionel explains, being a
teacher at the Studio Harmonic. Many professional dancers now
take break lessons, because that's what is needed for television'.
'It is not always easy to find the right place, Anne-Cécile
tells. I tried nearly all the Parisian schools, and even the
Gymnase Club ! Nothing against cardio-training, but concerning
the hip-hop, it would be the same as if Veronique and Davina
- Therefore, try several courses
before subscribing. Once this is done, try to be assiduous, once
or twice a week, and in a few months, you'll master the basis
of smurf dancing and moon walk...
- A hip-hop lesson always begins
by a bit of warming up, then classical movements. A small demo
by Laure, a teacher at the Espace Vit'Halles and Steffy, an American
woman who teaches at the Centre de Danse du Marais.
Warming Up : progressive
stretching during 15 to 30 minutes... Beware : avoid sudden movements,
it must not hurt !
The Smurf :
the 'wave' starts from the wrist and goes through the arm, then
the shoulders to the other hand. Try to split the gesture.
The Break Dance
: it's a work on the ground. Most of the movements are very
difficult and require an intensive practice.
The Moonwalk :
some manage to do it on their first day, others never do.
The Hype : it's
the hip-hop's last evolution and mixes African influences with
jazz and funk. You can see it in many Television clips...
The Locking and
the popin : those two work together, and are quick movements
of the fists and fingers which show different directions.
The Baby Freeze
: sudden stop of the dancer in curious and spectacular positions,
for instance on his head with his feet tangles. It's not that
- According to Caroline, who
has been dancing foe six months, 'you can dance the hip-hop with
a destroyed Tee-shirt, jogging pants and old tennis shoes.' It
has to be in the move !
shoes : to easy the ankles'
movements, the shoes must not cover it and to minimise the shocks,
a good sole.
The most important
: good knee pads to help with the work on the ground.
The rest is up
to you : short, jogging pants or baggy ones... Big sizes
will increase the coolness of the movements.
is it Good for You ?
- its variety of styles constitutes
what is good in terms of physical exercises. Each kind of movement
develops a specific quality. Balance, suppleness and the sense
of space will come first and then the musculature...
Fun : rhythm and loud
music is cool... You can be yourself, which is not usually possible...
the lessons start with warming ups and stretching because some
movements require suppleness
Stamina : it
depends on the lessons but they usually are quite intense, and
require a bottle of water.
Musculature : mostly
abdominals and the upper part of the body.
Handedness : co-ordination for instance when you are smurfing.
Balance : for
instance in moonwalking, when you must go from a stand on the
end of your feet to your heels.
Will : it sometimes
has to be strong but the conviviality really helps a lot.
Conviviality : be sure you will make new friends...
rules. You can even dance
on techno (well, supposedly). But it goes better with real hip-hop
music, funk, rhythm and blues, rap, new jack...
: the best-off album
is a must. Rather old school funk.
Brandy : the
new album 'Say never say' is really enjoyed by girls, as Mohamed
Good in general
: Pac, Snoop Doggy Dog, Naughty by nature, Ice-T, Ice-Cube,
Heavy-D, Queen pen...
Easier : Willy
Smith, notorious Big...
French : NTM,
Minister Amer, Secteur A...
And : Michael
Jackson ('History'), Janet jackson, Sugar-Hill-Gang and James
Sexy is the Hip-Hop Fashion !
- Far from being androgynous,
the fashion is really sexy. Trellis, baggy pants... are the rule,
but with a tight T-shirt it changes the whole look ! it allows
the navel to be seen and it is often implemented by a ring...
Labels to enter the hip-hop tribe : Fubu, King Soul, South Pole, Maurice Malone, Dready
Lady soul : the
year's sensation, the girls from all social environments are
- Where to take Lessons ?
- Great schools are available
for 70 to 100F per lesson and there are many independent teachers.
In the suburbs, the dance is authentic, with a mixture of dance
and martial arts. In the province, dancing school and fitness
centres also provide for hip-hop lessons.
Vit'Halles : Very technical
courses with Laure, a young but really good top-dance teacher,
and also Champion of France in hip-hop. 48, Rue Rambuteau, 75003
Paris. Tel : 01.42.77.21.71.
de Danse du Marais : The
american teacher Steffy proposes Hype and Break. The fair Steffy
is also the author of the first hip-hop video lesson in French
(Warren Vision). Another teacher, tina, proposes hip-hop-street-funk.
41, Rue du temple, 75004 Paris. Tel : 01.42.72.15.42.
d'Art Choregraphique :
A very nice place near the Place Blanche. Mohamed's lessons (06.11.26.66.60)
are close to the old school's roots. 4 bis, Cité Véron,
75018 Paris. Tel : 01.42.52.07.29.
Harmonic : Lionel Amadoté
is passionate and will surely take you with him. In December,
Mr Freeze, a famous Franco-American dancer will be back. 5, Passages
de Taillandiers, 75011 Paris. Tel : 01.48.07.13.39.
(Everywhere in France) :
This Moovin group (100 schools in France) provides for ragger-jam
courses (an exclusivity in Europe), which is an Afro-Jamaican
version of the hip-hop.
47, Rue de Javel, 75015 Paris. Tel : 01.44.37.09.10.
- Like all anti-conformist
communities, the hip-hop world has generated its own language,
which often comes from American language... but not only.
: a European term to
designate the wave. The first dancers wore white gloves in order
to be more visual.
: huge radio-CD-tape portable with an integrated bass box
which makes the 'ghetto explode'.
Groove : when
the music makes your feet move themselves. Probably what jazzmen
called the swing. By extension, a musical style between funk,
dances and soul music.
Capoeira : a
Brazilian dance which was a kind of practice to a fight invented
by slaves. Some of the movements were integrated into the hip-hop.
A Challenge : anybody
can participate. In the middle of a circle one can do his free-style
in other words, create without limits.
The Bougaloo :
a style based on movements of the pelvis, a rather old school
way with jerky movements an the rhythm.
The Pop : a
very spectacular and rather virile style based on violent muscular
The Tetris : also
called the Egyptian. This is a play with the arms in rhythm,
alone or not, in order to draw figures.
The Hype and Top
Dance : composed of all the hip-hop movements which are executed
while standing up. These are the most common teachings in schools.
- © Jean François
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