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'The Underground' Showcases Krump, A Decade-Old Street Dance Style

David West |
September 3, 2012 | 9:56 p.m. PDT


South L.A. celebrates the 10th anniversary of a dance form founded by its local youth with a special performance 8 p.m. Wednesday at USC's Bovard Auditorium.

“The Underground: From the Streets to the Stage” consists of 12 individual vignettes that together tell a comprehensive story about the development of  “krump,” a street dance born in Los Angeles 10 years ago.

Krump has spread to other cities, becoming a phenomenon in the popular dance world.  Several vignettes serve as narratives while others focus on notable krump personalities or showcase the different styles, approaches and objectives of the dance. The program was created and conceived by Marquisa “Miss Prissy” Gardner.

Here's a rundown of the 12 distinct pieces that will be performed Wednesday night:

 1.    “The Evolution” details a narrative history of krump starting from the 2005 documentary “Rize” by David LaChapelle that first followed the rise of krump as a dance form through krump’s evolution to the present day.

 2.    “We Three Kings” describes the relationship among the three male founders Mijo, Lil’ C, and Tight Eyez, the artistic and other disageements among them and Tight Eyez’ breakaway to another group.

 3.    “We Are”  picks up after “We Three Kings” with Mijo and Lil’ C as the survivors in the original group from the previous round of struggle.

 4.    “Long Way Home” departs from the narrative format to describe the particular struggle of female krumpers, through the person of Krucial, who sees the need for women to develop “kick-ass” assertiveness to hold their own in this male-dominated realm.

 5.    “She Is”  is none other than choreographer and director Miss Prissy and her personal and artistic evolution from classically trained ballerina to “Queen of Krump” street dancer.

 6.    “Drummer vs. Krumpers" describes the artistic relationship between these two rhythmic forces as the two collaborate and duel in rhythmic plays, free-styling and bar trading.

 7.    “Heavy is the Crown” focuses on Lil’ C who is the consensus public face of krump in the national media based on his extensive choreographic experience and his appearances on high profile reality shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance?”

 8.    “Rapper vs. Krumper” presents a rap/krump dialogue with rapper KO the Legend rhyming about the lives of krumpers  accompanied by a small krump ensemble.

 9.    “Me Against the Music” presents another rhythm play, this time underscoring krump’s objective to have dancers battle the music rather than each other. That is, the dancers should, in the words of Miss Prissy, “be embodying sound.”

 10.    “Indian Sunset” profiles the epic freestyle solo dance of Storyboard, a proponent of the Brooklyn style of krump, which he has individualized to a large degree.

 11.    “Pyramids” is a non-narrative ensemble piece involving dancers in a variety of styles playing with shadows.  It is meant to serve as a segue to the even larger finale.

 12.    “Finale” presents  on the Bovard stage a reenactment of one of the famous 818 parking lot sessions in North Hollywood, also known as “krump circles” from which the present production developed. Producer Jessica Koslow takes a look at the 818 sessions in the video below.

Reach contributor David West here.



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