Hip Hop Community Against Appropriation

Hip Hop Community Against Appropriation

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Jinyi Duan started this petition to The Dance Complex

To the Dance Complex,

We, the dancers of Boston, would like to respectfully present this petition in regards to what we believe to be a cultural appropriation naming convention used at this studio.

In specific regards to the class: “Sassy Hip Hop”

While “Hip Hop” choreography have been long named “Hip Hop”, we must acknowledge that “Hip Hop” choreography is only Hip Hop influenced and does not belong to the actual culture.

The origins of Hip Hop dance belongs to the Black Americans/African Americans and Latinx American population, derived from the streets during the 1960s in New York. This dance is not only a dance, but rather a movement that encompasses life, culture, and style from the people living during those times. It is held close and dear by those who have formulated it, those that have put time and effort in carefully crafting this art, and those who are generous enough to share it with the rest of us outside of that community and time period. Hip Hop dance includes the fundamentals - grooves, names, culture, and an understanding of the music from which this craft was born amongst much more. To be a Hip Hop dancer, one must understand the history of discrimination, injustice, and oppression these people have faced during some of the toughest fights of this country. Because these issues still exist today, it is extremely unfair to only choose to take the name “hip hop” and not the knowledge that encompasses the movement behind it.

Urban dance/commercial choreography origins reside in inspirations from Hip Hop, however cannot be labeled as “Hip Hop” as the dance style draws from from all different forms such as Jazz, Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, and so forth. This style was developed outside of the timeframe from which Hip Hop was established, and developed in parallel with the build up of dance competitions and dance in the media. Simply said, if a class does not encompass the music, vocabulary, history, and culture of Hip Hop, it is inappropriate to call it “Hip Hop.” There is no connection of the movement taught in this class to original hip hop source material. If this concept would not be tolerated in a class titled “ballet” or “salsa,” it would only make sense to offer the same respect to hip hop.

This will not downplay the class. instead, rebranding it will yield more success by allowing street dancers to feel comfortable participating and teaching their unique art in a welcoming environment. For example, in California, studios such as Culture Shock Dance Center (San Diego), Studio fx (San Diego), and Snowglobe (Los Angeles) have completed the name change with a visible growth in popularity at their studios. In short, it will empower and give rise to this movement as its own thing, making it easier for others to find this style. This will also align with Dance Complex’s mission of inclusivity and community.

Due to dissimilarities of the two, we believe that it is inappropriate to categorize classes such as “Sassy Hip Hop” as “Hip Hop”. In moving towards cultural awareness, change, and respect for our roots and people, we strongly unite in supporting the change of this class name to something more representative and respectful of Hip Hop History.

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