Krump Dancing Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Krump Dancing

Krump is a popular form of dancing sweeping America. But most people can't find a class in krump dancing offered at a suburban local gym or dance studio along with Zumba, tap, and jazz. Krump dancing originated in the urban ghettos of Los Angeles, not as part of a formal, classical tradition of dance. Much like breakdancing or vogue-ing, it has its roots in a culture of poverty, where people with little money or other material resources could at least create art with their bodies in a visceral and organic fashion. The streets where krumping first became popular are lined with "barbershops, chicken joints, liquor stores and churches" and little else (Booth 2005:1).

"Krumping," according to the documentary on the dance craze called Rize, has been called "break dancing on fast-forward" (Booth 2005:1). Krumping began as a "hip-hop dance style sired by a former drug dealer named Tommy the Clown" (Booth 2005:1). The Los Angeles resident (whose real name is Thomas Johnson) said he knew all too well the violence and addiction that people from his community fell into because of social pressures and the toxic environment of the inner city. "The clowning and the krumping dance movement, it is a very positive thing because it really does keep kids off the street…Kids really don't have too much to do around here. This is something exciting for them" (Reid 2004). One krumper who has appeared in music videos agrees: "It just keeps us from doing everything negative -- staying outta trouble, keeping yourself busy" (Reid 2004). Although krump sounds very strange to those who have not witnessed it -- "a clown dressed up in a wig in full makeup in the middle of the hood" -- it has grown beyond its origins and is now pursued seriously by individuals who do not dress up at all and use its kinesthetic language as a mode of self-expression (Menzie 2009).

When Tommy started working at birthday parties, he used what become 'krump' dancing mainly to entertain kids. As he saw the infectious joy it generated, "Tommy eventually started getting his pied piper on, enlisting people from the neighborhood to come perform with him at the functions, dubbing themselves the Hip-Hop Clowns. The dance form eventually evolved into what he calls krumping" (Reid 2004). Obviously, there is a sense of humor to this 'clown dancing.' Its theatricality has drawn the attention of many mainstream hip hop artists like Missy Elliot and the Black Eyed Peas who featured it in their videos. But krumping has matured into a more serious form of dance. When asked to define krumping its adherents say: "the krump? You know when you see it," or more poetically "it's like two Siamese fighting fish…You put them in the same tank and they'll go after it" or "it's the power of the warrior unleashed" (Booth 2005:1). There is a highly competitive, aggressive element to this "ghetto ballet" not present in some other forms of urban dance (Booth 2005:1).

Tommy the Clown created what he calls his 'Battle Zone' to teach krumping, "where the kids square off for belts like they do in wrestling. The battling didn't just stay contained to Tommy-sanctioned events as different painted-face crews started popping up around Cali and facing off" (Reid 2004). In the…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Booth, William. "The Exuberant Warrior Kings of 'Krumping.'" The Washington Post.

24 Jun 2005. [1 Feb 2013]

Menzie, Nicola. "Krump dances into the mainstream." CBS News. 11 Feb 2009. [1 Feb 2013]

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