This morning at Quaker Meeting I couldn't stop thinking about krump.
Krumping, of course, is the hyper-energetic, aggressive dance style that emerged out of some of the roughest neighborhoods in LA in the 90s, and has since become an international phenomenon. I've long had difficulty understanding krump as an artform. It appeared to me to be just a lot of chestbeating, arm flailing and jumping around.
But krump master Lil C's description of krump in the video above — from the TED performance by the League of Extraordinary Dancers — has helped me understand the dance better. I love the idea of dance as a way of harnessing the energy of what is around you, transforming it, and then putting it back out to the world. Or as Lil C says, "You got this piece of energy and you're manipulating it… You create power, then you tame it."
From this frame, I can understand why a teenager in Southcentral LA might dance the way they do. If the influences around you are dark — poverty, crime, drugs, insecurity — then having a way to grab hold of that energy, transform it, and then throw it back out again is in itself empowering and positive. It's a means of transcending, even if the expression might appear violent.
The challenge for me, and for everyone, is how do we, in whatever we create, take in the dark influences and energies that swirl around us, and transform them into something positive and even beautiful?