In honor of the 10th anniversary of krump, an energetic street-style dance with African roots that originated in Los Angeles, USC Visions and Voices hosted a conversation in Annenberg 207 on Tuesday with Marquisa Gardner, known by her stage name Miss Prissy, fellow dancer Lil’ C and journalist Jessica Koslow.
Gardner has been involved with the dance since its origin. She, Lil’ C and other dancers in their crew began with clown dancing, an early form of krumping. Gardner said that krump evolved from a desire to blend clown dancing with traditional dance forms.
“It’s a combination of street dance elements and African dance,” Gardner said. “We’re still moving somewhat clown-like; we’re also channeling our ancestors.”
The dance movement was picked up when artist and photographer David LaChapelle saw Lil’ C krumping on MTV. Gardner was featured in a documentary Rize, which explores the development of this dance style. In the film, Gardner is referred to as the “queen of krump.”
Last year, Koslow, a graduate student studying specialized journalism in the arts, approached Gardner to film her own documentary after attending a class on krump that Gardner taught. Koslow said she explained her interest in writing her thesis about krumping to Gardner.
Koslow shot a 15-minute documentary that was published by KCET, the local public broadcasting station. But the story did not end there: Koslow discussed the possibility of creating a show at USC with Gardner.
The finished project, “The Underground: From the Streets to the Stage,” was performed at USC last Wednesday.
The project is just one example of krumping’s growing popularity. According to Gardner, people have started to gather for krumping sessions in a North Hollywood parking lot every Wednesday at midnight.
That setting is perhaps the right one for Gardner, who believes that having the sessions outside is important for the spirit of krump because the style’s origins come from the street.
Though the dance might look confusing to outsiders, Gardner said the dance is about expressing and accepting oneself.
“People think it’s such an angry dance, but it’s just really emotional — fighting for respect, fighting to be noticed,” Gardner said.
Lacey Schauwecker, a third year Ph.D. candidate studying comparative literature, said she attended the event after seeing the krump performance last week.
“I loved the energy of it,” Schauwecker said. “It felt so alive. I’m familiar with the form of dance, and I came today because I wanted to learn more about it.”
A krump dance workshop will be held by Lil’ C and Miss Prissy at the North Gym in the Physical Education Building on Wednesday at 5 p.m.