Bringing It On
From its roots in 1980’s American gang culture through to mainstream success, street dancing has become a worldwide phenomenon. Whether East Coast B-Boying (or Breakdancing if you prefer) or West Coast Krumping, street dance evolved as a non-fatal alternative to gang fights, a way to represent and gain respect without the finality of a bullet. From the outset street dancing, popularly, if inaccurately classified under the umbrella term Hip-Hop, has been infused with a sense of community, of high octane energy, of pride, power, and the heat of battle. All of which was to be found in abundance in the electric, if organisationally slack in places, “Top 8 Hip-Hop Dance Battle.”
Now in its third year, “Top 8 Hip-Hop Dance Battle,” curated by the Top 8 Team and curator Tobi Omoteso, is becoming a staple of Dublin Dance Festival, and it’s easy to see why. With competitors, following a day of workshops, squaring off in Breaking, Hip-Hop, Krumping and Under 16’s Allstyle categories, there’s more than enough energy in the room to light Las Vegas. Displaying a phenomenal degree of technical excellence, with the Under 16’s category frequently outshining their supposedly better elders, standards were impeccably high as dancers gave it their all, with the lesser represented, female dancers representing strongly.
Yet while the dancing could never be faulted, organisationally things should have been sharper. Half an hour late kicking off, lagging between contests early on, photographers and non-contestants often blocking the view, contestants not present for their heats, poor organisation turned what should have been a tight two hours, with intervals, into a no interval, time consuming three. In the end, the tension and exhilaration of battle often gave way to the tension and frustration of delay, with those vital, later contests feeling hurried, and with several people disappointed at having to leave without seeing those crucial, final battles they’d invested their night in to see. Which was a shame, for the finals did not disappoint, and if not everyone agreed with the decisions of the all male judges Anton LB Phung, Jordan Likiyo and Soul Brother Chi, there was no denying the contestants brought their A-Game, with the Krumping battle cranking the energy right up and bringing the house down.
DJ’s KhanFu and Dmitir, along with host Kelly P, kept things moving, for the most part, and did their best to control the crowd. Yet with it often looking like there were more people on stage than in the auditorium, they might as well have tried turning back the tide. Yet that’s a crucial part of the experience: that overflowing sense of community, of belonging, of everyone being in this experience together where the exhilaration is palpable, the dancing incredible. If, to the victor go the spoils, to each competitor goes genuine respect. Likewise, to Dublin Dance Festival, for programming what might arguably be one of the most energetic, dramatic and exhilarating experiences of the festival.
“Top 8 Hip-Hop Dance Battle” ran as part of Dublin Dance Festival 2017 at The Project Arts Centre on Sunday, May 21st.
For more information, visit Dublin Dance Festival