Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spotlight On: Prepix Crew

For a second time this week, we return to South Korea but for a different kind of crew in our spotlight feature. Today, it's Prepix Crew, who have been holding it down since 2001. They've traveled all over Asia and Europe making an impression with their trademark "Prepix" style. For those of us in the U.S., they represent a unique blend of different street elements plus their own personal aesthetics that have helped them to stand out. (Photo above is from their website but it should be noted that the team also has female members.)

You can see their website and contact info here:

And you can see one of their most recent promotional videos here:

And here's an older clip from 2005 using masks:

So how does one describe Prepix? They're smooth, very musical, and well-rounded in using multiple levels, clean executions, and their whole body to dance. What's great about them is that they don't rely too heavily on using street dance foundation in their choreography but they shows signs of training in those styles and understanding their differences. For the past few years, we've seen a lot of bboying, popping, locking, and waacking foundation or moves inspired by these styles in routines from southern California hip hop choreo teams. Prepix avoids this comparison by staying light on their feet and moving in ways that don't lock them down into one specific style. They can easily claim their own "Prepix" style because they're confident, clean in their executions, and influential in their teaching workshops and performances. If they can break down their own style and teach the specific elements and concepts to students, then they have grounds for arguing for their own style.

Watch their footwork - how they shift their weight at different moments, how they create various angles and lines, and how they take advantage of little hops and skips that keep them moving. Too often, we're seeing other U.S. hip hop choreo teams that seem land-locked and flat-footed. Or we see the same leg lines repeated over and over. This is especially true when we see tutting routines used in team choreography. Can we see a little more dynamic play with these concepts? Prepix seems to have embraced dancing with their upper AND their lower bodies in their choreography. And it brings out much more of their personality and flavor in their dance. As dancers, we can choose to use specific parts of our bodies and limbs when we isolate, but we shouldn't forget to embrace our whole body. We have to remember that each part can have a unique purpose in the overall presentation. Knowing our own anatomy and taking advantage of it will only open up more potential doors to creativity.

Prepix also represents an interesting debate that is going on right now in southern California, in terms of terminology. This doesn't directly involve the team, but the debate in question revolves around what we should call choreography that doesn't directly use foundation and techniques from original hip hop street dances like bboying, popping, locking, and waacking. Yes, one can argue that popping and locking appeared before bboying and hip hop, but these styles have become embraced in the larger umbrella of this culture. So if it's not any of these styles, then do we call it "urban choreography"? That term has been floating around. Other terms include "West Coast hip hop," "LA hip hop," "new style," etc. What we're talking about here is a plethora of personal flavors and styles informed by the choreographer behind the piece. And with every person, we draw from many influences. Will "urban choreography" be a term that is only embraced in the U.S., possibly in southern California? Will the rest of the world be hip to it? All of this remains to be seen. But in the meantime, we can enjoy what Prepix is doing as they forge their own identity in the performance world.

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