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Zydeco and Hip-hop workshops slated for Aug. 15

Two workshops, sponsored by Let’s Dance, have been scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 15.

Malia Durbano and her partner, Brad Buckley will teach Zydeco from 10 a.m. to noon.  Registration starts at 9:45 a.m., and there will be a refreshment break midway provided by In Step Dance Associates.  The cost is $15 for this two-hour workshop.  

Zydeco gets its roots from a form of folk dance that corresponds to the heavily syncopated music with the same name.  It originated in the beginning of the 20th century among the Francophone Creole peoples of Acadiana (southwest Louisiana). It is a partner dance that has been primarily danced socially and sometimes in performances.  You do not need a partner to attend this workshop, however.

You won’t want to miss this new-to-Pagosa dance that will surely get you up and moving.  Students will learn the basic Zydeco moves in closed and open position, and will understand styling and improvisation in the dance.

Also on Sunday, join Makaila Hart as she shows us the basics of hip-hop; which is the featured dance for the week. 

Registration for this workshop starts at 12:45 p.m. and the workshop will begin promptly at 1 p.m.  There will be a refreshment break around 2:15 p.m., with more hip-hop from 2:45 until 4.  The cost for this three-hour workshop is $20 per person, and no partner is necessary.  It is for all ages, and there will be an exciting exhibition performed by Makaila, Deb Aspen and maybe some of Makaila’s other students.  It’s sure to be “all for fun, and fun for all”.   Wear comfortable clothing (the funkier, the better), and be prepared to “get down”.

Both workshops will be held at the PLPOA Clubhouse, 230A Port Ave. in Pagosa.  For more information, call Aspen at 731-3338.

So what’s the scoop on hip-hop?  It’s been around for over 30 years, but much has yet to be explored regarding its roots, history, terminology and essence.  Dance forms (like b-boying/girling and Brooklyn uprocking) did develop in the ghettos of New York City and were later called hip-hop, but many other forms (like popping and locking) that were grouped with them were developed on the west coast as part of a different cultural movement. 

Much of the media coverage in the ‘80s grouped these dance forms together. labeling them all “break dancing.”  As a result, the west coast “funk” culture and movement were overlooked and underrated as the public ignorantly credited “hip-hop” as the father of the funk dance forms.

As far back as the late ‘60s, NYC gave birth to “Brooklyn uprocking,” which was more confrontational.  Like in the Broadway play and, later, the movie West Side Story, two crews would form “Apache Lines,” where members of each crew or gang would face an opponent and engage in a “war dance.” Brooklyn uprocking depended on quick wit, humor and finesse as opponents attempted to humiliate each other.  Winning meant displaying the swiftest steps; being receptive to the rhythms and counter rhythms of the music and the opponent; and catching the opponent off guard with mimed assaults, humor and endurance.

The new form of dance culture was identified in the early ‘80s when DJ Afrika Bambaataa named the dynamic urban movement “hip-hop.”  The words, “hip-hop”, were originally used by MCs as part of a scat style of rhyming, for example, “Hip-hop ya’ll and ya don’t stop; rock on, till the break of dawn.”

At about the same time, certain slang works also became titles for the dance forms, such as “rockin’” and “breakin’.”  The term “break” also had more than one use in the ‘70s. It was often used as a response to an insult or reprimand, for example, “Why are you breakin’ on me?” 

Kool DJ Herc is credited with extending these breaks by using two turntables, a mixer and two of the same records.  He also coined the terms “b-boy” and “b-girl” which stood for “break boys” and “break girls.” 

Meanwhile, in California, the dance form of “locking” was invented by Don Cambell who, in trying to imitate a local dance called the “funky chicken,” added an effect of locking of the joints of his arms and body which became known as his signature dance.  The lock is a specific movement which glues together combinations of steps and moves similar to a freeze or a sudden pause. 

In 1976, the Electronic Boogaloo Lockers was formed in Fresno, CA by Sam Soloman.  Some of Sam’s early inspirations were Chubby Checker’s “Twist,” a James Brown dance called “the Popcorn,” and “the Jerk”,” cartoon animation, and the idiosyncrasies of everyday people.  From these many influences, Sam combined incredible steps and moves, conceiving a dance which he named the “Boogaloo”. 

Today, hip-hop has joined ballet, tap and jazz in studios all over the world.

The hip-hop and West Coast funk movements have succeeded in replenishing the world with new exciting dance forms which entertain and change the lives of many people worldwide.  Research has certainly enhanced my appreciation of this dance and, by attending this workshop, we all can grow in our appreciation of the energetic and innovative culture that originated in our great country.