Clowns and Krumpers

Yesterday evening the ABC in Australia showed David LaChapelle‘s film Rize (2005). The film has been shown previously on ABC in Australia and was reviewed by Margaret Pomeranz and Triple J in 2005.

Rize introduced me to clowning and krumping as alternatives to membership in gangs. A review of Rize gives some background about the founder of this form of dance Tommy the Clown and its social context.

There are few career paths open to the children of these neighbourhoods (South Central Los Angeles) and drugs and gang culture offers a seemingly quick way to earn money and prestige, and as many of their families and friends are involved in gangs it can prove difficult to break out of this way of life. Krumping not only provides a physical outlet for young peoples frustration but can also creates alternative social structures and allows young people to gain respect from their peers and their community. For Tommy the Clown the success of his dancing has turned his life around and dance has provided him much more than just a steady income. After a spell in jail for drug dealing he was asked to perform at a kids party and began a business as a hip hop clown. His art and his business has grown from there to include a Clowning Dance Academy and number of high profile ‘Battle Zone’ dance competitions in huge stadiums with thousands of spectators. Whilst dancing can help people work out their emotions, it can also offer alternative career paths. The Krump dancers featured in the film have gone on to use their dancing to actually escape the ghetto and are starting out as dancers and choreographers. Dancer Miss Prissy choreographed and starred in Madonna’s new video Hung Up and others have also been snapped up by the likes of Missy Elliott and the Black Eyed Peas.

This 2007 video and report provide more information about Tommy and Krump. One reviewer of Rize observed that “By allowing the story of Krumping and Clowning to come from the mouths of those who live and breath it, he (Lachapelle) brings to the fore the relationship between dance and society with startling clarity and inscribed on the body of the dancer.”

There is a Battle Zone within Krump:

The Battle Zone is fierce, kinetic, no-holds bar dancing, where the objective – much like with breakdancing – is to put your opponent to miserable shame. So the krumpers and the clowns dance fast and they dance hard to be crowned the best by an audience of their peers.

There is a Cage version of this battle Zone that is “grimey and reps what Krump was when it started but with the highest levels of Krump. The battles were all in good vibes and even the beef battles brought everyone closer.”

By the end of Rize I was sold on clowning and krumping. Perhaps it was because I had spent part of the day reading Digital Habitats that I saw a wonderful opportunity to explore stewardship from a different perspective. Tommy the Clown has many of the characteristics discussed by Etienne, Nancy and John with regard to the rhythms of togetherness and separation:

Time and space present a challenge for communities. Forming a community of practice requires sustained mutual engagement over time. It takes more than one transient conversation; it does not arise from merely having the same job title in different locations. It requires learning together with enough continuity and intensity of engagement that the definition of the domain, the weaving of the community and the development of the practice become shared resources.

I was thinking too about communication. The evolution of krumping prompted me to think about microblogging and its transformation since 2006. Perhaps I am overworking the issues here but the colonisation of a mode of expression has some real parallels for me with digital authorship. I like the ideas around the rhythm of communication and the opportunities to find the edges around shared interests.

Photo Credits

Rob Helfman D_18278A

Tommy the Clown

Tommy the Clown y’all

Chaz Wags lasgueritas

Listening Pleasure: Thinking About Performance

This week on my journeys into Canberra I have had an opportunity to catch up with ABC Classic FM and Radio National. Three items in particular helped me think more about performance. Two were symphonies played on Classic FM and one was a discussion about writing on Late Night Live.

The two symphonies were:

1. Aaron Copland conducting Appalachian Spring (1979)

2. Henryk Górecki‘s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Symfonia pieśni żałosnych)

Aaron Copland’s performance as a conductor composer encouraged me to think about how tacit knowledge is made available and confirmed my fascination with performances of understanding. Goriecki’s symphony was so beautiful (it was the first time I heard it) it prompted me to think about performance beyond words and how resonance is a fundamental relationship we have we each other and the world.

The Late Night Live conversation was between Phillip Adams and Mark McGinness. This is the web site trail for the interview “The obituary has had a relatively short life, becoming a regular fixture in Australian newspapers in the early 1990s. However, obituaries have become almost mandatory reading, offering up a celebration of life amid the usual gloom. But how do obituary writers get such an insight into the dearly departed?”

It was a delightful interview and I was left with a very clear sense of the precision required to share a life. It made me think about how coaches communicate and how writing whilst going beyond the 140 characters of Twitter can have an intensity that celebrates lives through thick description. This obituary of Michael Romanoff encapsulates the themes of the interview.

Photo Credits

Simon Ilic Leaning Tree

Michael Sarver Appalacian Trail

Janusz L River Sings

Rude Interruptions and Merry Making

One of my earliest blog post in Clyde Street was about the Merry Makers. The Merry Makers have just held their 2009 Gala Concert.

Photo Source

Just when Lucinda Bryant was preparing the Merry Makers for their concert I came across another remarkable group, Rudely Interrupted and Rohan Brooks

Photo Source

A film about the group was premiered on 3 December on ABC. Neal Murphy has a great post about the group. There was an Irked Magazine post earlier this year too.

You can meet Rudely Interrupted here:

You can meet the Merry Makers here:

It would be fascinating if the two groups were to perform together!