This article is actually my friends Ill Kosby status on FB. I know not everybody is FB friend with him so now you have the opportunity to read what he wrote. Ill Kosby is collage professor and real hip hop educator. Author of the documentary Everything Remains Raw.
What has happened to quality in hip-hop dance education? Where has it gone? Was it ever there to begin with? I remember when my cousin tried to write graffiti by drawing a finished product, I told him you have to learn letter construction first and work from there. I’ve seen many of these classes, from both the hip hop community and the “commercial choreographic” perspective and my thoughts are that their trying to give you a finished product without teaching, building, or developing a solid structure in body talking, real musicality, aesthetic value, culture identity, spiritual meaning, emotion connection, or vocabulary, but wow! That choreography we did was so much fun…sad. What’s worse is that you accept this. Let me say this to the “teachers” on behalf of those students who truly want to learn.
In case you were wondering, I came here today to learn a particular dance form, to learn about the use of the body, not make shapes or hold positions; I came to develop my corporeal ear in relationship with the music. I came here to learn a community and culture perspective in urban dance practices. I did not come here to watch you flirt with the girl in the front row, I did not pay 12 dollar for you to put on your own private show. Hey, Maybe you didn’t get enough attention when you were young, maybe you got too much, but I did not come here to watch you strut-in pleasure of your self-indulged magnanimity, I did not come here for you to ignore me, I did not come here to be used as a test dummy, so you can try out your new choreography to the new song you just heard. No, I did not come here to dance your expression, I came here for information to help me find my own voice, I came here to understand dance not simply imitate dance movement. And no, I am not okay with you making a video of your choreography, so you can post it on youtube in attempts to get more work at the expense of me not learning how to dance. I did not come here to fulfill your personal agenda; I came, and paid to be educated.
I don’t care if you’re a popular or even a great dancer, because that does not qualify you to be a good or great teacher. I don’t care that you were on Television, that doesn’t qualify you to teach dance, I don’t care that you won a battle, that does not qualify you to teach dance, I don’t care that your youtube clip got 1,000,000 hits, I don’t care that you have a brilliant show, or that you were on tour with a pop artist, while those things may be cool, that still does not qualify you to teach dance. And I don’t care what song your playing in class today, what does that have to do with your ability to teach dance. Your marketing power should come from a high quality of teaching your provide along with your ability to dance and explain movement, body usage, etc.
And don’t tell me the song post is how you get people to come to your class, sounds like a marketing trick, if you have to trick people into coming you shouldn’t be teaching, listen, children are sometimes tricked with sweets, toys etc for good behavior sad but true. So you trick your students with a song, and they get the song and choreography but no education. Its no wonder that people are great at mimicking dance, repeating choreography but still can’t dance. All your doing is giving them dance candy, their smiles are bright, their heels are high and they are camera ready, but the feet and skills and ability to dance from within are rotten to the core. Is there a dance doctor in the house? We need to remove the brainwashed tumor that teachers and consumerism have planted in the minds of young dancers.
Wake up people. I understand there are many reasons to study dance, maybe that’s the problem you’re not studying dance your taking dance classes. Maybe you just want to sweat, if this is the case have a good sweat. Maybe you just need to lift your spirits, Maybe it’s a way to shake of the stress in your day/week, Maybe you want to better your skills at picking up choreography, if this is the case take classes from many instructors in different forms. Taking the same class by the same person is only going to make you better at picking up their choreography. Maybe you just want to have fun, I wish you much enjoyment, and maybe you take classes because you think the instructor is a good dancer, which is not going to make you a good dancer but enjoy. All I can say is you are paying for this, know why you are taking a class, what you want to get out of the class, know the goals you want to achieve. And for the love of dance, know the difference between learning how to dance and repeating a routine. If you read this and thought, he is not talking to me, I probably am. I had you in mind when I thought and wrote it. Please stop degrading the title of a dance teacher, suggesting that it’s easy or if they can keep up with the choreography they are learning. And stop saying dancers from other countries can’t dance. They have their own folkloric dances, of course they can dance maybe they don’t use their bodies the way we do, but they can dance, maybe you can’t teach.