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What's New & What's Old School

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I have read many articles over the Internet, and listened to people using the trendy words: Old School/New School. This trend was initiated in the mid '80s when KOOL MOE DEE and LL Cool J had a lyrical battle over the Air waves. KOOL MOE DEE is one of my favorite rappers, but I disagree with him then, and I disagree with the current trend in dancing. KRS ONE said in one of his tracks,( I'm still #1 from the 1988 By All Means Necessary Album) "Rap is still an art, an no ones from the old school, because 'Rap' is still a brand New tool. I say no one from the old school cause 'Rap' on a whole, isn't even twenty years old. Fifty years down the line you can start this, because we will be the old school artist. . . " These dances are only 20 plus years old. So now we have people saying this dance is old school and this dance is new school, or he is an old school popper and he is a new school popper. First; just look at the dances people are calling old school: Lockin', Poppin, and Breakin', these art forms are still in there developmental stages, when it comes to creating and running a production.

Closely take a look at the word "Old," here is what the American Heritage Dictionary has listed: Mature, Having lived or existed for a long time, Made long ago not new. These dances have not reached its maturity level. We are still struggling for existence, and presently developing these dances to be an acceptable art form.

Poppin', breakin' and lockin' is not club style dancing, so why compare these dances to House, Hip Hop or any current club dance style. These dances are performing, or competition dances. We only used the clubs in the late '70s and '80s, because we thought it was the best place to expose our skills, and get honors from within our communities. Most of us were quite young and did not fully understand from a dancer viewpoint what was the best area to expose these art forms.

House and Hip hop dances are more for the clubs. Yes there are some dancers who have elevated their dancing to a higher level, by combining movements from other art forms, but the general dancers in clubs are dancing with the opposite sex. You cannot do this with lockin', poppin' or breakin, can you imagine a guy walking up to a lady saying lets dance, I mean, lets break together. Back in the '80s this was one of the biggest problems we had with other dancers, we took up so much space just to display our skills. These dances belong in performing or competition environments. The Bboy summit, Radiotron, Battle of the Year, Bboy master, and more stage performances like "Jam on The Groove." I may go to club from time to time and start poppin', this is not the best place to display your skills. We have to learn from our past, club dancing is trendy, and we should not solely rely on clubs for our survival.

It takes a popper, breaker, or locker a lot of years to perfect these art forms, just like Jazz, ballet or gymnastic. Why should we stop dancing, we practiced for years to learn these art forms? No one is going to tell a ballet, or jazz dancer after three or five years of training their dance is played out, and you think they are going to stop dancing, NO!, they are going to continue because they put a lot of time and energy in learning their art form. We feel the same way, why should any of us stop dancing, yes, I went through so many so call played out stages, but I kept doing what I like because my heart is into poppin'. People tell me "yeah, you are a good popper, but that dance is played out" or "are you still doing that dance, man you are too old to be poppin'." No one can start busting windmills or glide after a couple of days practicing these dances. For the movie Flash dance they tried this with a professional dancer, and found out it will take too long for a trained Jazz/ballet dancer to learn how to do a backspin. Just don't even talk about windmills, or advanced footwork.

Precisely look at the dance called Ballet, does a ballet dancer stop dance once they reached the age of 21? NO! Their dancing career is just starting. You have ballet dancers over the age of 50 years old still performing. The older dancers do more then just dance. They have more level of maturity. They are more involved with running the production, and teaching younger dancers. Ballet is one of the dances that fit the description of old school dance, more then lockin' poppin' or breakin. This dance had been around for a long time and it has reached its maturity level. Now they focus more on production and drama, but the movements in ballet are basically the same.

By saying Old school in itself sound played out, or over the hill. There are lots of words we can use. I prefer the term Ken Swift (a member from Rock steady Crew) used in one of his articles. He used the term first generation, second generation, and so on. This is more self explanatory and lets people know how long a dancer been representing. I have a lot of respect for other type of dance forms. We all should come together and support each other, the production called "Jam on the Groove" shows what different types of dance styles can do together. No one should detour us from our goal, fight to have these dances acceptable as some legitimate art form.

by Roosevelt Williams

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