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Streetwear and the Hip Hop Dance World gravitate towards each other. Very often when dancers think about creating a business, street fashion is on top of the list. While I am not the right person to say what it is, that connects those two worlds, I think that these creative young labels need more spotlight. I can not do this on my own, as my readership is not that big, but I can do my part by presenting some of the labels that emerged from our dance community or found their way into it.
I have put a little bit of research into this topic because it is nowhere close my core expertise. My intent writing this article was to present an overview of the existing labels and show the differences between them. I have sent some private messages and emails to the label creators asking for background info about their work. The answers I received made me rethink the approach for this post. There is a distinct pattern revealing itself – about what all these labels have in common.
The common ground
fair & sustainable
organic, local, unique
These values define the visions of the label creators. Fair & sustainable or synonyms where essential in all of the answers I received or the descriptions on the official websites.
Being unique is a thing that every serious fashion label strives for. Our austrian fashion brands are no exception.
The great thing about this common ground between all the brands is that it shows a deep understanding of the needs of our society. It shows that the fashion entrepreneurs that are close to the hip-hop scene value social progress more than profits. For my understanding, this is a noble trait that you seldom find in the business world.
Let’s jump into the differences, that matter far less, than the common things.
The Salzburg-based label Esteem was built upon the idea to “create some shirts for ourselves and friends”. The following step to the own streetwear brand was not that far. The name stands for value, respect and acceptance.
The slogan of esteem is: create your own system.
Esteem produces all kinds of urban clothing and seeks out to fit the dancer’s needs wherever possible.
Check out the official Esteem Website.
Hailing from Graz Unleash.ed was found with the primary idea to support local subcultural movements like freerunning, tricking and the artforms from the hip-hop culture. The secondary idea was to create clothing that fits. Not in a literal matter but a symbolic one. The wearer should be able to identify with the clothes.
Unleash.ed goes by the slogan: by the community, for the community.
The primary products of unleashed are shirts and pullovers adorned with inspiring and creative sayings.
Visit the unleash.ed Facebook Page.
From the Soul
From the Soul is based in Innsbruck and takes the idea of sustainability one step further, by using clothes that are already there. The from the soul vintage market is a well-curated selection of second-hand clothing that is chosen with the urban dancer in mind. The majority of the pieces are sports clothing from the 80s and 90s as well as parts that fit the overall style of the era.
Their slogan: From The Soul, for the soul.
From the Soul has self-produced shirts and caps too and is working on finding suppliers they want to work with for the production of more stuff.
Check out the From the Soul Facebook Page.
Rachlé Art resides in Klagenfurt and is all about customs. They design most of their work per hand, directly onto the clothes. The items that are created this way are truly unique. The focus is on extraordinary and colourful designs that resemble the spirit of the customs from the origins of the hip-hop culture.
Take a look at their pieces on the Rachlé Art Facebook Page.
URBAN ARTISTS WEAR
not something for everyone – but for someone
Urban Artists Wear is a label that is focused on key-pieces for the hip-hop dancer. They see “the own style” not only as a way to express through the art of the four traditional elements but also an aesthetic presentation of one’s individuality through fashion. The search for possibilities to be individual in the pabulum of the big sports labels was a significant reason to found the brand.
All the items are self-designed and use patterns that differ from the norm while using established ideas from within the scene, like the oversized look. Jackets, shirts, pants, bags and more are hand-crafted as single items or in a low number of pieces.
Follow Urban Artists Wear on Instagram.
Mützenmafia (german for capmafia) is specialised on hand-crafting stylish caps, beanies and headbands. The company from Graz started creating headwear after desperately looking for it in a cold winter. As there were no satisfying options, the task was to develop it themselves.
Mützenmafia provides quality items to keep your head warm and stylish – no matter if it is cold weather or bad hair day.
Take a look at the Mützenmafia Online Shop.
Vresh is not directly tied to the urban dance scene, but their clothes found their way into our realm nonetheless. Their clothes are meant to support people and projects from music, sport and the creative sector without going into a niche. They support what they like.
Their designs fit a wide range of demands, and it is easy to find something you like.
Follow us to the official website of Vresh.
Which of these brands will have the right items for you is a matter of personal taste. That is not a thing we have to discuss. Important is: no matter who you buy from, in all the cases above you support a company that upholds essential values instead of putting money in a conscienceless economy that only strives for profit.
There are some more brands that I did not get enough info from. Therefore, there might be a second chapter of this one in the future.
When we want something but have limited resources to make it happen, we usually find creative ways to get what we want. That is the essence of creating artificial constraints for our dance practise.
Artists and creative entrepreneurs use the technique of artificial constraints to spark creativity in their work with great success. To use this method in dance we give ourselves limited options of what we can do. Depending on the purpose of our practise we can either delete some things from our repertoire or only allow very limited options..
As an example: Most of us have so-called fallback moves. There are the moves that we know in and out. The moves we can execute perfectly, no matter the circumstances. If those are too predominant in our freestyle we give ourselves the constraint of not using them at all.
There are a series of constraints that are common:
- You might not use specific parts of your body
- You might only use specific parts of your body
- no/only moves while standing up
- no/only jumping moves
- no/only moves while crouching
- no/only moves on the floor
- hands might not touch the floor or must always touch it
- same with the feet
- hands and feet must always touch the floor
- certain ways in the space are a must or forbidden
- the phrase must always turn to on side or it must not
- one part of your body is glued to the floor or another bodypart
- every movement must be initiated with the same part of your body
This list is of course not complete and it can never be, because you can come up with your own constraints and you should. It’s your dance, not somebody elses.
Let us know your favourite practise constraints in the comments.
Every great thing that happens has it’s roots somewhere. Hip hop freestyle is based on social dances and breaking took a lot from rocking and martial arts. Even krumping, which is not officially hip hop, can not deny that it has roots inside the hip hop culture. The music we krump to evolved from hip hop music, some of the moves that are used in krumping have been there before in the hip hop dance styles.
And you know what? There is nothing bad about that. Cultural movements can part, despite the fact of having common roots. What’s not ok, is denying your roots. None of us would be doing what we do, without the people who layed down the foundation. And there is a foundation to everything new, because nothing comes from nowhere.
If you have inspiration in other things, don’t deny it, own it.
Quality of movement is a term that comes up often when you are talking with professional dancers. Depending on who you are talking to, it might have a slightly different meaning, but in general it refers to how good a movement is executed. In my personal point of view this translates directly into how beautiful a move looks. Some people might have a different opinion on this. For the sake of this blog, we will ignore those other opinions. My blog, my rules. 🙂
No matter if we learn a new move or try to polish an old one, doing it slow helps us being more conscious about what we do instead of relying on the autopilot to take over. The more moves we have the higher the chances that we apply techniques of another similar move instead creating the muscle memory for the new or changed one. While the results can be quite as good, we miss the topic of creating or polishing.
An additional benefit of moving slow is that we focus more on details of the movement. Being clear about all the details of a move results in cleaner execution.
Last but not least: moving slower gives us more time to come up with new ways.
If you have different experiences with moving slow while creating or learning, feel free to let us know in the comments.
photo from sassi / pixelio.de
Pendulum is a pretty easy concepts that is very similar to Equilibrium. A pendulum goes from one side to the other and back again. So this is what we use as the guideline to create our dance.
I use two versions of pendulum:
Basic Pendulum: You make a move or a way to the one side, come to a stop and go to the other side. That is all you need to start creating with basic pendulum. The reach, the way to go and the speed are all yours decide. And don’t forget to dance your ways from one side to the other.
Turning Pendulum: Here are no ways or moves to the sides but we use rotation instead. You are doing a rotation to one side, stop and continue to the other side. You decide how far and how fast you turn. I tend to do most of the rotations slow to give me the time to fill it up with a lot of moves, but that is only personal preference.
This is an easy one, enjoy it and get creative without thinking to much. The concept stuff is here to set us free in the dance, not cage us.
Photo from: Bernd Christian Gassner / pixelio.de
A lot of artists that are building their reputation are used to do a lot of stuff themselves, even stuff that is not really their core competency. We get so comfortable with doint it all, that there is a risk of thinking we can do everything that is related to our work better than others.
Most of the time this happens due to us not having the money to hire experts for some parts of the production. Later when we might have the money or we find people that can do the job, we think it is needless. We overlook that there is a big difference between a job done because we can do it and a job done by an expert who is really good at it.
I just saw this in the festival distribution of our movie Elsewhere. I have sent the movie to festivals myself and we got some screenings. Now a festival agency is taking care of that and within the first month of the cooperation we had new screening and won an award.
As a reminder to myself and everyone who finds himself in the situation from time to time: if you let people do the work they are good at, it pays off.
One question that comes up frequently in beginner classes or even some intermediate classes is: “why do we have to count the music?”.
The answer is very simple. Counting is THE way to navigate inside music. All western music that is based on notes (and this is at least 99% of the music that we use to dance) is created on a numeric system. Musicians give numbers to bars and notes. These act like a gps or a map. So everybody can play the music together.
For us dancers, it is the easiest way to communicate the relation between our moves and the music. And while you can learn a part of a city or a piece of music by heart, as soon as you move to new territory counting will come in handy.
If you only dance solo for yourself, then you can skip counting because you can work with your intuition, but as soon as you want to dance together with others you need to count. When you want to learn or teach choreography you must be able to count. When you want to talk to musicians, you must be able to count to get somewhere fast. If you want to make dance your job, you must be able to count.
It’s not hard. We will cover the basics soon. Don’t wing it.
Fill in the Blanks is a simple concept to create variation within your vocabulary of movement. It works with every movement that has multiple parts. In between two parts of the same move there is some free “space” where we can insert something new.
Let’s take any regular two step movement as an example. It consists of two steps. By filling in the blank we would add an additional movement between step 1 and step 2 and therefore create a more advanced version of the original movement.
If you apply this idea to some of your moves, you will see it opens up a lot of possibilities for advancing your stuff.