Earlier this year we were approached by Graham Brown, an Assistant Professor of Dance at BYU. Graham had an idea for a class, a Hip Hop class, but not your average dance class. He wanted to make sure the students were receiving more than just dance training. After a couple phone calls we had settled on the idea of combining elements of Hip Hop history and giving context to the dances we would be teaching the students. We felt it was important for the students to learn the history, meanings and vocabulary behind the movements.
Dance 245: Urban & Street Dance Forms
Dance 245 at BYU would be a 1 credit class and start October 23, 2015. The class would consist of 3 dance forms taught over the course of 5 weeks, Breakin, Popping and House. During each segment students would learn the history of each dance while learning foundational moves. All of this would be placed into context for the students. Meaning they would learn how to apply the movements correctly. The best way to think of this is as a language class. We would be teaching the students how to speak the language of the dance so that they are able to communicate with other dancers through movement.
This class represents a lot of firsts, for us and for the school. For the FED this is the first time we’ve been asked to help create the curriculum and teach a class at a collegiate level. Our students would be receiving college credit for what we taught them. This is simultaneously exciting and intimidating! This would also be the first time a class like this has been offered at BYU, and to our knowledge any university in the state. We are very grateful for the freedom the BYU has given us and for their willingness to offer this class in the first place. Initially this was a single class offered 3 times a week. But so many people tried to add the class that they ended up offering a second session. No pressure!
teachers were chosen to teach the classes. Myself (Joshua “Text” Perkins), Marc “Big Chocolate” Alexanda and Estevon “E-Boogie” Scruggs. Personally, I don’t really like teaching. So I was expecting this to be a bit of a challenge. Would the students be interested in learning? Would they even care about the history of Hip Hop? Would I be able to communicate the way Hip Hop is important to me? These were all questions that I thought about going into this class. Fortunately for me this ended up being one of my favorite teaching experiences to date. The students being older made it easier to have a deep discussion about the meaning behind Hip Hop and the movements of the dance. It was also a great opportunity for me to refine the way I teach. In the end I think we have a great framework laid for a unique class.
A Learning Experience
As of Nov 16th, I’ve completed my section and Marc is just about done with the Popping section. All that’s left is to finish out the semester with House. Even though the course is not yet completed, we’ve been asked to do the class again in the spring! This extremely exciting and we’ve already begun looking at ways to improve the program. With a little luck we’ll be able to keep this going and continue building it into a valuable class for those interested in Hip Hop and it’s dances.
I’ll leave you with a clip from one of my last class. My students learned Top Rock, Footwork, Power and Freeze over the first 4 classes. The 5th class was dedicated to the battle. We split them into crews and required them to come up with a crew routine as well as individual round. This was the result.
If you’re looking for more info on this class, or if you would like to find out more about Graham’s projects, contact him at [email protected]