Leaping Over Labels and Limits
Kim Gaskin is a cheerleading coach who has spent 3 decades teaching young people how to express themselves through dance. Here, she graciously shares her experience after meeting a group of urban youth who many might not think could ever achieve the national fame and notoriety that they have because of the reputation of their dance style. They didn’t let the labels stop them from working hard, and now they’re performing in front of sold out crowds.
Through the years, the Hip Hop culture has been adopted and reinvented by Black and Latino Americans. This freestyle form of dance and music has been criticized and ridiculed – very possibly due to ignorance about young people in the “hood” battling it out for power and popularity. What we didn’t know is our labels for the “running man”, “breaking”, “pop-locking” and the “cabbage patch” would be redefined as young people mastered these creative forms of dances and forged a new meaning to the word Hip Hop. I’d like to share my recent experience of how the JabbaWockeeZ Hip Hop dance crew danced their way past the labels.
I was recently a speaker at a gym owner’s conference in Las Vegas and while there, a couple of friends got together to see a new show called JabbaWockeeZ. Since I did watch the reality series “America’s Best Dance Crew,” I knew this dance troop was one of the first crews to win on the show. JabbaWockeeZ is a Southern California Hip Hop crew that wears white masks and gloves getting people to focus on the unique movements of the entire group and not the looks or talent of one dancer. Their name is derived from the Lewis Carroll poem “Jabberwocky” which was showcased in the TV show. I initially wanted to see this show to have a fun night with friends and enjoy the art of dance. What I did not expect was that this Hip Hop crew would touch my spirit in a special way.
As we watched the show, I was amazed by their precision, creative costuming, athletic ability and showmanship. They performed to current Hip Hop songs and classic songs like, “Singing in the Rain.” Every dance routine displayed their unique skills and challenged the audience to see dance in a new way. These young street dancers have reinvented Hip Hop to capture mainstream audiences of various age groups and cultures.
After the show, two of the JabbaWockeeZ dancers visited with us. We took pictures, signed autographs and talked. These young dancers have spent their lives dancing and battling in the streets to define their existence. The Vegas show also had dancers from the Super Crew, the dancers that competed against the JabbaWockeeZ on “America’s Best Dance Crew.” It was impressive to hear how the two crews have come together to produce a great show – particularly since collaboration isn’t what you think of when you see young street dancers in action.
Our society has spent years labeling young people who danced in the streets because there was no structured place for them to perform. The JabbaWockeeZ have broken the barriers labeling Hip Hop dance and bridged a gap that has led to greater acceptance of this dance form. Today their Las Vegas shows are sold out!
The JabbaWockeeZ crew was not willing to give up. They believe in their dreams, continue to redefine themselves and have captured the hearts of America! Their show will entertain you and give you a new perspective on how you see Hip Hop dance, seeing it not only as entertainment but a true art form!