I’ve always thought that majority of hip hop classes that I’ve taken were not actually directly applicable to why I like dancing – people. Most commercial hip hop and jazz (not jass) classes are really about one thing – learning how to learn choreography. The problem is, I’m never going to bust out a sequence that I learned on the dance floor. That is of course, unless the exact same song is spun from the DJ at a club then I’m cursing myself for not paying more attention.
I do believe that learning how to learn choreography is a valuable and unappreciated skill in my dance scene(s) because social partnered dancing’s emphasis on innovation over imitation (and rightly so). However, sometimes I’ve used that way of thinking as a cop out to actually focusing on one style or movement and getting it down really well.
“Groovin'” by Eric Malapad at Harbour Dance Centre was by far my favorite regular class I’ve taken this year. It is probably the only one hour drop-in class that I have ever taken that after the first session I could say to myself that, “I am a better dancer”. The reason why Eric’s class felt so great was because of the simplicity of the class. There were no complex twenty-four count isolation step sequence, quarter-beat hits, and the class was not micro-choreographed to a specific song. Most of the movements were done to a bass-cymbal beat but it was the variety and quality of movement that were being emphasized. No choreography, no set moves, just continual changing movement to rhythm. There were elements of funk, krump, popping, african, and house – depending on what song was playing. If you didn’t get the movement the first time, no worries, we were gonna do it twenty more times.
There was another reason that “Groovin'” was my favorite class and that I can only really compare to the workshop from Shabba-Doo that I took in New York – dancing is better when done as a community. Throughout the hour, you are encouraged to support your fellow dancers so that you yourself can get better. There always seemed to be perfect equilibrium of making yourself look stupid in order to make it look great. Yes, I support a culture of high-fives.
This is what I envision a class I would love to teach one day. A class that would be getting dancers and non-dancers moving to music so that they can go out to the clubs and parties with their friends and just JAM. A class that makes you look good AND feel good.