Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Ghetto ballet lessons
by Kate Bowman Johnston
When we showed the documentary Rize here at Calvin College last weekend, we handed out a film review that began with this verse from the book of Jeremiah:
Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Although this passage isnít referenced in the film itself, it strikes me as the thesis of not only the documentary, but of the movement it chronicles. Directed by David LaChapelle (previously lauded for his fashion photography and music videos), Rize tells the story of a street dance phenomenon in south central Los Angeles, where young black people flail their arms, jerk their torsos, and thrust their hips in attempt to break free from the violence and injustice that seems written into their everyday lives. This exuberant, dynamic variation on hip hop dancing is called krumping, and it is Jeremiah 31:13 in the flesh.