A Hip Hop Halloween

At the end of first and third quarter, my high school has a two-week seminar style class that we call “Intensives”. This quarter, I chose Hip Hop. Our first day, we went to an African dance studio a few miles from the school and learned about the origins of Hip Hop. Throughout the rest of that week, we choreographed a personal dance routine for a music video, researched one particular dance style, and began learning two different dances choreographed by the teacher. Week two, we spent a  day filming the music videos, presented our dance style research, and worked on cleaning up form on the dances the teachers had picked for us.

At the end of each day, for the last 10 minutes of class, we all stood in a circle in the gym. The teachers would kill the lights so it was fairly dim, and we would take turns going into the middle of the circle and dancing a 5 second solo. The first week, our dancing was pretty silly, and most of it wasn’t Hip Hop, but by the end of the second week, we all had something cool to share.

The second week we instituted “Choreography fun”. About half an hour before our ending Hip Hop circle, the teachers would tell us what sort of choreography they wanted, put us in groups, gave us a song and some speakers and said “Go”. One day we were all given songs that weren’t Hip Hop music at all and were told to go get moves that matched the lyrics. Another day we were given Hip Hop songs and told to add a certain move into our dances while still going with the lyrics.20 minutes isn’t much time to choreograph, but we did well.

We were also bringing a change over the school. Early on we discovered that when we all turned on different songs in the gym, you couldn’t hear ANYONE’S music. So we moved things out into the lunchroom area. To our dismay, having 4 groups in the gym and 4 in the lunchroom was still entirely too loud. In a moment of bravery, our teachers said “Go wherever you can hear yourself think.” If I recall the final arrangement correctly, it went something like this:  2 groups on opposite ends of the gym, 2 groups in the lunchroom. 2 groups upstairs (On opposite sides of the school). And finally 2 groups in the downstairs hall way, one about in the middle and one at the far end. Because of this spread, the whole school pulsed with music all day, not loud enough to disrupt, but loud enough to be there. Kids from other intensives came to watch us on break, and the whole school wanted to know what we were doing in the gym when we didn’t let people watch.

On the last half of the last day of intensives, all of the classes presented their projects to the school. For the first half we worked on final presentation prep. Everyone else was in class rooms, so we Hip Hop people flooded the hall and worked on our “Art”. Finally it was time to look and share–ready or not. Slide shows, art work, a scale model of Rome, it was all very nice.  Then the principal asked everyone to move to one end of the gym and sit. We all came strolling together, and everyone started to realize that the kids with scary makeup were all from the same intensive.

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Yeah, it was pretty cool. We performed Thriller, and it was the most exhilarating thing ever. It was so successful, and we all had a great time.

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The makeup was a combined effort of my own work and a friend’s, and it was very entertaining, especially because it tickled.

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Thanks for reading, hope you had a happy Halloween!

-S.J.

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