Wednesday, July 27, 2005

RIZE - street art of L.A. dance

by RudyG

I'm not real black--except at the end of summer--but maybe there's something ex-slave in my bloodline because I just have to encourage you to see the documentary Rize (David LaChapelle, director, 2005). I just did in Denver, so maybe it's still around your town.

No, it's not a Chicano thing, but then, not everything is. But if you're into the aesthetic and more meaningful aspects of rap--in this case, counter-gangsta--you'll enjoy the soundtrack, and you'll awe at the dance. Plus, you'll ponder subjects the film doesn't speak to, like, are there no Chicano Crumpers in South Central L.A.?

Rize opens with the blurb: "This film was not speeded up." It's appropriate because you'll wonder how anyone can move as fast as people in these dances; hell, you may wonder why kids aren't breaking their necks and spines, even.

While LaChapelle is no Ken Burns (who's too nicely liberal for me, anyway), and only one of the cast is close to a Wynton Marsalis (that dude made Jazz), there's enough on-camera of Clowner and Crumper dancers to sometimes cross the line from documentary into feature. And there's an only-in-America story here.

So, if you enjoy, study or just tend to get a thrill out of dance and music arts, or need to listen to people coping with life down in the ghetto, check this out before it leaves your area. It's a unique view of one of the Other Americas, told from their side.

Rudy Ch. Garcia

I've included plot info below from the Internet Movie Database:

"Plot Outline: Reveals a groundbreaking dance phenomenon that's exploding on the streets of South Central, Los Angeles. Taking advantage of unprecedented access, this documentary film bring to first light a revolutionary form of artistic expression borne from oppression. The aggressive and visually stunning dance modernizes moves indigenous to African tribal rituals and features mind-blowing, athletic movement sped up to impossible speeds.

"We meet Tommy Johnson (Tommy the Clown), who first created the style as a response to the 1992 Rodney King riots and named it Clowning, as well as the kids who developed the movement into what they now call Krumping. The kids use dance as an alternative to gangs and hustling: they form their own troupe and paint their faces like warriors, meeting to outperform rival gangs of dancers or just to hone their skills. For the dancers, Krumping becomes a way of life--and, because it's authentic expression (in complete opposition to the bling-bling hip-hop culture), the dance becomes a vital part of who they are.

"Documentary film that chronicles the practice of "Clowning" and "Krumping", radical, energetic, and vividly extreme dance forms that have taken on enormous importance for black communities in south-central Los Angeles on many levels: as serious forms of spiritual and artistic expression, as alternatives to gang participation, as a means for knitting social fabric. Various personalities within the dance movements are profiled."

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