Friday, October 9, 2009

Spotlight On: The Ranger$

To round off the week, today's spotlight feature is on a crew that's been at the forefront of the highly publicized jerkin' movement: the Ranger$. By now, most of us in southern California have heard of jerkin' or the Jerk movement. In recent months, this movement has received media attention from local news channels to online video blogs to word of mouth in the dance community. The Ranger$ are one of many groups at the center of this phenomenon, which make them compelling to follow. You can see their website here: (Photo above is from their website)

And here is one of their videos:

Earlier this year at the World of Dance Tour in Pomona, there was a dance floor devoted to krumpers and turfers. WOD is usually known for hip hop choreography showcases and bboy battles. So this new addition to the event brought attention to the Jerk movement. At one point, the New Boyz "You're a Jerk" single played over the speakers. A crowd of about thirty dancers started doing the reject all at one time. So there clearly is a newness to jerkin', which the Ranger$ have capitalized on. So why all the hype? First, they're part of a dance generation that's coming up in the age of Youtube. They've used online videos, social networking tools, and a packaged self-promotional strategy to their advantage. Whether it's using a live video feed on or appearing in entries of Wikipedia, the Ranger$ have made their mark on the online world. And their fans have noticed. More than most hip hop choreo teams or underground bboy, popping, or locking crews; the Ranger$ have drawn attention to themselves and built an audience through online exposure. While the pros and cons of these measures can be debated, it's clear that the Ranger$ are media saavy, suggesting that they're focused on building careers in the performing arts.

Next, they and other jerkin' crews have the opportunity to pioneer a new style that could grow in the long-term. Right now, the foundation of the dance is young with moves like the jerk, reject, Spongebob, and pin drop. As with any new style; moves, concepts, and transitions can be added daily at a rapid pace. It will take an artist's mindset and a determination to grow creatively in order to give jerkin' longevity. We've seen this with krumpin'. Although there are some who would claim that krumpin' has disappeared, that is far from the truth. Krumpers continue to innovate and build their community long after the mainstream media caught wind of them in the 2005 documentary "Rize." Take a look at the Krump Kings. They have evolved the feel and foundation of their style beyond what we saw four years ago. For the Ranger$, they have to be excited to be part of a burgeoning movement. That youthful energy, if directed well, can be part of the creative spark to start a revolution. The Jerk movement is traveling fast among the preteen and teen population in Los Angeles. Within this world, the Ranger$ have defined their strongest fanbase. So these circumstances could help them to grow and mature if they don't fall to overexposure.

And finally, the Ranger$ portray a new model of street dancer with their ambitions in multiple fields: acting, dancing, singing, and fashion design. Is their dancing just one part of their persona or the heart of it? Could their multiple ambitions dilute their focus on growing their dance style? All of this remains to be seen. But what's clear is that they have a strong business sense. It seems to be working for them with their growing peer fanbase and the news of a feature film on the way. Only time will tell how they evolve as artists and as businessmen.

The future is wide open for the Ranger$. Will they choose both art and commerce in their journey as dancers? Or will they choose one over the other? Perhaps neither is a relevant question right now as this young crew continues to grow and expand their influence. We're still very early in their journey as dancers but the coming months and years will add more to their story.

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