Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Preserving History

Why is history important? 

We may feel it's a burden to remember the past, especially when there's something new and exciting occupying us in the present. For poppers, lockers, bboys and other street dancers, knowing history is an important part of our journey.

After all, how can we know where we'll go if we don't know where we've been?

There was a time when it was difficult to study street dance and hip hop culture without having first-person access to the original generation of dancers, MCs, DJs, and graffiti writers. A true student would seek, pursue, and find these teachers, images, recordings, and personal stories. Now, information is more readily available through the Internet and social networking technology. Forums, blogs, Facebook pages, and Youtube channels are hot spots for us to find bits and pieces of hip hop culture and history.

Studying history - knowing and understanding it - builds a foundation from which we can grow and explore further. It shapes our personal and cultural identities. It gives us a connection to a larger story that was written before us. It's humbling to embrace history because it reveals how we are part of a bigger narrative that involves many others. When we learn about World War II in European History class, we understand we're living the legacy of that global conflict today. Our social and political environments have been formed by the aftermath of that war. And how we see ourselves as a nation and as a people is marked by this understanding of history.

Is this applicable to street dance and hip hop culture? Absolutely. Social history and peoples' lives were intertwined with the cultural birth of hip hop and the dances we celebrate today. We're adding to the larger narrative by participating as poppers, lockers, and bboys. Artistically, we bring fresh perspectives to the dance as well as our personal identities and sensibilities. We're laying the foundation for the next generation to experience a dance journey.

Isn't it amazing that we're part of history-making right now?

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