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I had to snap back to reality because I realized I was pretty much just sitting there, staring at her speaking. The greek restaurant was packed with people at 8pm for dinner in Lörrach, Germany. I wasn’t able to take Jillian Meyer’s class today at Urban Dance Camp because I was sick but afterward, we went out for dinner.
Jillian, Bettina (the organizer of UDC), Susan (a good friend from Italy), Laure Courtellemont (who you will soon learn more about) and I were sitting at the table eating dinner and the conversation steered toward dance, as it always seems to do. Jillian, Laure and I began speaking about teaching. Now, I have always been very intimidated, to say the least, by fundamentalists and freestylers because one time, one of them said to me that what I do isn’t dancing. So sitting across from Laure Courtellemont, who founded the style we call Ragga Jam, was quite an anxiety-provoking experience. After speaking about our pasts and experiences, I told her, “I feel guilty at times because I don’t know a lot of the history behind what I do. I think that the kind of dance I do is fairly new so there isn’t a lot of history behind it. Our moves don’t have names like yours do in Ragga Jam. I just do what the music tells me to do.” She smiled and called me and Jillian artists. She admired what we did because it was exactly what the music was. She came from such a different background and moved in a completely different way but she said this: “Artists recognize other artists.” Perfection.
Laure continued on to reassure me that all of the fundamentalists who are going around saying “that’s not hip hop” or “that’s not dancing” were at one time the black sheep in the dance world. The founders of house, locking, footwork, etc. we’re all people who created something new and different and were told constantly that what they were doing was too weird and different. Now these are the people who are admired, cherished and looked up to. This was a revelation! She then said, “Art is taking everything in the world and rearranging it to elevate it.” Even more wisdom. Just like Picasso, who put an ear where an eye was; All he did was rearrange everyday life and is now considered one of the most brilliant artists ever. It was at this point that I realized I was staring, so I snapped out of it and pulled out my iPhone so I could write down these words of wisdom (but subtly so she didn’t think I was being rude and texting while I was talking with her). She told me that what we do has feeling behind it and is an extension of the music itself and she admired it a lot. This made me think.
A lot of hip hop is based in history. “This style was developed by…” and “It came from…”. This new generation of dance doesn’t have AS rich of a history as popping, locking, house or Ragga Jam but there is still history and while I may not know everything there is to know, I can share my experiences, such as tonight, with you. The only history I can share is the history I know, and the only history I know is the history I experience. The conversation I had with Laure Courtellemont and Jillian Meyers was one of my highlights of the entire year. It really made me think and reassess everything I thought I knew. I admire all styles of dance, especially the styles I dont know how to do (yet!). Dance is subjective and as long as you feel it, you can’t let anyone tell you it’s anything other than exactly what it is: Art.
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