Today: Jul 17, 2024

Students receive a lesson on hip-hop history

Olivia Richman, General Assignment Reporter-

As part of Black History Month, a handful of students got together in Southern’s fitness center to learn the art of dancing hip hop. Tiara Willie, a graduate intern at the Multicultural Center, said to spread awareness of African American culture, the Multicultural Center wanted to do something that brought out the entertainment aspect. 

“Hip-hop,” said Willie, “is a way for African Americans to express themselves.”

Earlier in the week, the Multicultural Center showed a documentary on the history and concept of hip-hop dancing, called “The Street Culture That Became a Global Expression.”

According to Internet Movie Database-dot-com, the movie explores the movement of “break dancing” during the 1970’s to the Wop, Cabbage-Patch, Running Man and other popular dance moves from the 1980’s and up. 

To go along with the documentary, Willie says they wanted to hold a class on how to learn some basic hip hop moves. 

“The choreography has some house, very little breaking, and street and studio hip hop,” said Monica Lasenberry, the dance instructor for the night. 

Lasbenberry, who is part of the Symphonic Pulse Dance Company in New Haven, has been teaching all types of dances for the past eight years. 

Lasenberry dances contemporary, lyrical, some modern and has even done jazz before, she said. She has also danced Africa, theatrical and of course, hip hop. 

“Dancing (hip hop) is lots of fun,” said Lasbenberry. “It has a lot of different areas, like locking, breaking, house, studio and then there’s street hip hop. It creates something unique when you use all of the styles in one routine.”

At the beginning of the class, Lasenberry made her eight students stretch to some popular hip-hop music and balance. 

“Who’s scared?” she said to the group.

No one raised their hands.

“Who’s shy?” she said. 

Two girls raised their hands. Lasenberry made these two girls move to the front. According to Lasenberry, when someone is in the front of a group of dancers, they can’t see anybody else, and thus do not feel as much pressure. 

“When it comes to hip hop it’s all about the attitude,” said Lasenberry. “Hit every move. Don’t be afraid.”

One student came in late. 

The student was Lenore Stelzer, a graduate psychology major at SCSU. 

“I came (to this event) because it was welcome to everyone,” said Stelzer. “I saw it at the Southern events e-mail. It’s good to enhance (student’s) physical and emotional state as well as their educational state. As a psychology major we’ve been studying stress. You need (events like dancing to hip hop) to reduce stress.”

Willie said she hopes students gain a deeper understanding of hip hop after partaking in the event.

“It’s a symbol of African American culture,” she said. 

“I hope they gain a love and future passion for dance,” said Lasenberry.

Stelzer said she came to the event not only because she loves hip hop, but because she saw a similar lecture about hip hop earlier that week. 

“My daughter is a sophomore at UConn,” she said, “and for this year’s parents’ day, a professor gave a lecture on the history of hip hop. He wrote a book on it and signed it for everyone. Because of the lecture about hip-hop, I decided to come.”

But Stelzer said she also had a different motivation: to relieve stress.

“It’s a great way to relieve stress,” she said. “It helps lower blood pressure and keeps the immune system strong. If you let stress get to you that’s when you get sick.” 

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