Thursday, January 19, 2006

Clowner or Krumper?

Photo of and by David LaChapelle
This photo captures "a truly postmodern experience" -- KJ
Kathy Jue and I attended a free SAG screening and Q&A of David LaChapelle's documentary, RIZE. As I type, I am still digesting this movie. What can I say? If I were one of those people who bought and collected DVDs, I would own this film.

RIZE is a spectacular documentary about a new dance form that began in South Central, LA called Clowning, as it was the brainchild of Tommy the Clown who started clown dancing as a way to entertain at birthday parties. He later enlisted youth from the neighborhood to join him, dubbing themselves as Hip Hop Clowns as they wore clown make-up and performed at parties. The dance latered evolved into Stripper Dancing and then into the more well-known Krumping. The moves are incredible.

"Krumping is when you're dancing and your body is doing a lot of different moves," Tommy explained. "It's really like you're fighting on the dance floor. It's more of an intensity. It can be fast-paced, it can be a lot of moves that are really sharp."

What I found most antropologically interesting was when the film juxtaposed several scenes of krumping and tribal African dancing. Although the kids claim they have never seen images of tribal dancing before, the similarities are astonishing.

The scenes were so vibrant and full of spirit, and the youth were so inspiring and amazing. There are about 50 different competing clown groups, including an Asian group called Rice Tracks. Of course if I clowned, I would be part of Rice Tracks and choose Stripper Dancing and call myself Yo Yo Yee. I think I could be pretty good too.

What really made the night was meeting David LaChapelle. I have always enjoyed his photos, but I never knew how down-to-earth he is. Considering his celebrity status, I assumed he was a dick. I also felt dubious about his intentions for making the film. I am so wrong, and now feel shame for ever thinking that way. He was so kind to the audience and answered questions with thought, honesty and humility. He spoke about his childhood, struggling as an artist in NYC, his need to be creative, his love for photography and his latest interest in filmmaking. I intend to support his art from now on. He's wonderful.


blu-tooth said...

wonderful huh? is that because he let you take a picture with him? At first I thought... who is this white man? and then reading your thoughts, I realized that he did something to DESERVE your affections.

tonkhero said...

What are you saying blu-tooth? David LaChappelle is hardly the first White Man to deserve DYY's affections. Just look at Vince Gallo.

tonkhero said...

In fact, scrolling through her blog, I think DYY may have a growing White Man problem (Tom Delay, Vincent Gallo, Budda, etc.). I hear through the grapevine that she's not the only one. Maybe there needs to be some blogging to clarify where DYY and Blu-tooth really stand.

DYY said...

What you both mistaken as affection is resignation. I can't avoid the white man even if I tried!

ps. Buddha is not White, and you should know that such a statement may be considered fighting words for some people.

tonkhero said...

Not for the Budda though, I'd hope.