Monday, December 14, 2009

More Than One: Boogiezone & The Choreo Scene

Our first decade of the 21st century is drawing to a close. And there's a sense that we've all come a long way these past ten years. The street dance scene and the accompanying hip hop choreo scene in Los Angeles and Orange County are no exception. We feel that while trends come and go, one thing that never goes away is the need for community and the power that comes from a united family. Community is our theme this week as we explore different scenarios in LA and OC where the cultures have grown through the work of many hands - essentially, more than one. Today, we turn our focus to Boogiezone - a well-known online community for hip hop choreo heads. (Photo above is from a Google Images Search for Boogiezone.)

You can see Boogiezone's main website here:

Established in 2004 by Elm Pizarro, the Boogiezone community has grown as a network of choreo dancers who offer classes, job opportunities, and an online space for individuals to share videos and info of their work. Many of us look at the early 1990s as the birth of the collegiate hip hop scene in southern California. This movement is usually marked by the founding of Kaba Modern by Arnel Calvario at UC Irvine in 1992 with the original first generation of KM dancers. Soon, Pac Modern at Cal State Long Beach and later Team Millenia at Cal State Fullerton emerged. Many of these collegiate dancers had previously performed together at house parties and auto shows during their high school years. It was time for a new scene to emerge. In the years that have passed, the hip hop collegiate choreo scene is huge and thriving in southern California. Boogiezone has emerged as a favorite portal for anyone involved in the community to connect with each other. And it's a welcome presence.

This collegiate choreo scene thrives on community. Each team is essentially a family unit. And the long hours of rehearsing many times during the week only fosters connection. Sometimes, collegiate dancers find that they spend more time with their dance family than their own, especially if they are living away from home. College is tough, let's face it. So we all need a shoulder to cry on and someone to hug when we hit a rough patch. This natural breeding ground for community is what makes Boogiezone work so well. Dancers are competitive with each other, but at the same time, many have chosen to look out for each other. There's a greater understanding that it's not just about one person or team. We all need each other and need to push each other in order for the entire culture to grow beyond its current state. Boogiezone's community class program is a shining example of this situation. Week after week, instructors are advertised at three different studio locations in LA and the OC. Students get the opportunity to train with peers or with more advanced dancers who have gone on to professional careers. It makes things more personal and accessible to young dancers.

It's tough pursuing a professional dance career, especially as a street dancer or hip hop choreo dancer. These weekly classes and the online community help to voice our opinions, frustrations, hopes and dreams. Even if we live in the farther corners of LA or the OC, we can still feel somewhat connected by turning to the Boogiezone forums online. Five years have passed since the launch of Boogiezone and we're now seeing the community classes appear overseas in other countries like New Zealand and Germany. International dancers from Norway have traveled to teach in the U.S. as well. The choreo global culture is being formed by the Boogiezone team and their affiliates in positive, rapidly developing ways. No one person could do this alone. Clearly, it takes leaders to initiate the movement and many more to contribute to the scene. Boogiezone is an example of this happening right now.

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