MFA Project: Episode 1: Pilot


Over the holidays I’ve been processing about my MFA project that I have to create in order to, for a lack of better words, establish my legitimacy as a graduate student in dance at The Ohio State University and show how artfully intellectual I am which I’m clearly doing by writing this long-behind sentence…

I’ve recently had to write a third-draft, five-page proposal for my committee to look over, and hopefully approve. Now if you know me, you know that I am not a writer. I don’t like it, never have. However, since I love Hiphop and want to make a case for how important it is to academia and American culture, I have found that I must painfully accept this art-form, and all its wrath, if I’m going to convince the academic gurus of how the dance-form-from-the-streets is legitimate in the institution.

Foundation by Joseph Schloss

So there are two problems with me and this monstrous obstacle called my MFA proposal. One, I am way too heady for my own good. Every time I want to make a statement, I contradict myself ten-times over until I find myself, an hour later, with a digital blank page and the blink-blink of the cursor staring at me. Two, as if being heady isn’t enough, the documentation of Hiphop dance is, to say the least, scarce. The one book that I have found and read that delves deeply into the physicality and culture of Hiphop dance is a book called, “Foundation” by Joseph Schloss (It’s actually pretty dope so if you’re into the bboying scene you should check it out).  But ultimately, the field could use some more writers, not named Quilan Arnold, who are into the Hiphop dance scene.

Electric Boogaloos: (Left to Right) Mr. Wiggles, Popping Pete, Boogaloo Sam, Skeet, Suga Pop
Electric Boogaloos: (Left to Right) Mr. Wiggles, Popping Pete, Boogaloo Sam, Skeet, Suga Pop

Although there isn’t much written documentation, there are a few OG’s (Original Gangster’s… slang for old heads, also known as founders if we were speaking formally) in the game who are talking about Hiphop dance history and culture through video mediums such as Youtube (which is nice because I’d rather listen than read for my research). But, these OG’s are getting interviewed informally by students who have a thirsty knowledge for Hiphop dance. I, who have been in the game for all but five years, have to formally write a paper for faculty in an academic setting. No offense to the OG’s, but they can talk to me when they have to start defining terms and what-not (Which hopefully happens because I want to talk to founding Hiphop dancers as a part of my project! #swag).

Anyways, so after all of the thinking, stating, contradicting, and frustration, something like this has conjured up: “The evolution of Hiphop dance learning styles has fostered a culture within the academic and professional environments that marginalizes the importance of sharing knowledge through improvisational movement; thus, the essence of Hiphop dance, in expression of individuality, has deteriorated as the form has transferred from the streets to the studio.”

I’ll get into that statement in the next post… #cliffhanger #youwasntready

Shout out to my pops @ He’s helped me so much in this whole process and he, along with the rest of my family, is such a big reason for the blessings I am living in today. Love you!

Moment of Silent Screams [Video]

I am in the midst of creating a stage concert work called “From Within. And Back Again” that focuses on conventions in life that help to spark ones soul. Whether it be an overwhelming joy, anger, or sorrow, there are moments in life where our spirits feel as though they want to burst beyond our physical bodies. During these moments, I experience the limits of my flesh-self while simultaneously feeling the existential and boundless nature of my inner being. For me, it’s quite an amazing phenomenon that brings up many questions, and therefore, pushes me to make a dance about it.

Out of this larger work spawns “Moment of Silent Screams” as the recent emphasis on the injustices of police brutality have created a restlessness within my soul. This video is a result of my observations over the past month mixed with my desire to something. This is how I raise my voice in disgust against the systematic injustices that have been going on in our country.

I hope you empathize with the words, the movement, and/or the music that creates this work and it inspires you to have a conversation about these issues with others in your community. Blessings.

Hands Up: Our Silent Cry

hands up

I look upon the civil rights issues we face as a country today in regards to police brutality and am thankful that there is such a heightened awareness. I appreciate, even more so, the restlessness-turned-to-action during a time in my life where I care about the events that are going on around me.

Just a few days ago I was a part of my first protest march in Columbus, Ohio. As we marched, the rhythmical chanting matched with the number of belting voices created a spark in my soul. While displaying the vulnerable, yet opposing, Hands Up gesture, I wanted to cry, chant louder, and hug somebody as my spirit needed a constant outlet to escape the limits of my physical self. It was a blessing to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. One march-leader mentioned that we may not change anything, but we at least have the knowledge that there is a community who stands with our beliefs. That stood out as powerful to me. Although there may be things that we cannot control, the fact that there is a brother or sister next to us makes us fight for hope anyways.

But still, as I look around me, I see so much hurt. There is a searing pain within communities and individuals. A pain that the media is preying upon in order to emerge a racial divide in our nation that many of us have previously laid claim to be oblivious to: black versus white.

No matter how much we evolve and age as a country, we are not beyond a post racial society, nor will we ever be. Our society is founded on diverse races, cultures, ethnicities, worldviews, etc. The fact that we are a racial society is one of the reasons that make this country as strong as it is. The knowledge that is shared amongst peoples is so rich compared to so many homogenized societies, why would we want to act like we are past that?

Like a strong marriage, or any significant relationship, there will be historical baggage that creates a rage towards the differences of the other; however, that anger does not stop one from finding love for the other because, ultimately, each individual knows they are a better soul as a result of their counterpart. Likewise, we as a nation are better because of our diversity, and we cannot let the justice system or the media skew our perception of our strength as a unit as they emphasize the differences between us.

This is not to say that we should not be angry. We should. But we should be angry at the right thing and the right people. Too many individuals are angry and frustrated with their peers of another demographic: blacks angry because whites just don’t understand their struggle while whites angry because blacks are just finding another thing to complain about. These frustrations are legitimate to the people who hold them, and quite possibly there will never be a time in which cultures will fully understand each other. However, there is a larger crisis than the race issue: higher authority figures are killing unarmed human beings in our communities.

I just saw a clip today where a male cop punched a woman in the face for little reason and broke her eye socket! As KRS One said, “You [Police] were put here to protect us, but who protects us from you?” With the system that we are currently living under, none of us are safe. One may think it’s the problem of a specific demographic until the system’s unjust structure affects you, your home, and your family.