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Get on the good foot

Cassie Pence
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyBoys in the Vail Valley Academy of Dance hip hop class begin their routine by striking several different urban-inspired poses in time with the music. Ranging from crossing their arms to flexing peace signs, each boy expresses themselves through hip hop dance.
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EDWARDS – Scattered about a dance studio room, young boys stand on one hand, arching their back and catching their feet with their free hand, all to the rhythm of a hip-hop beat.The “hand plant” is just one of the burly moves Colin Meiring teaches in his boys hip hop class every Friday night at 6 at the Vail Valley Academy of Dance in Edwards. Meiring, from South Africa, has danced his entire life on Broadway and with national touring companies. He settled in the Vail Valley after 9-11. He developed the class in hopes of attracting more guys to the studio.”Hip hop dance is athletic, it’s masculine, it’s cool, it’s a sport,” said Meiring, who also teaches freestyle snowboarding at Beaver Creek.

“You have to isolate the guys from the girls, otherwise they feel too self conscious,” he added.Meiring’s strategy appears to have worked. More than half a dozen boys were at the class Friday practicing their routine that they will eventually perform for parents and friends April 16. It begins with each boy striking a urban-inspired expressive pose in time with the music. Meiring brings in baseball caps for props, and the boys wear them hip-hop style, turned to the side or facing backwards.”Lean back and look cool,” shouts Meiring, as the boys alternate positions from crossing their arms to flexing peace signs across their chests to bending down low with hands on their knees.”I like this class because there is something for every ability, and if you can’t do something, other kids will help you do it,” Jackson Salamunovich, 12, said. Jackson first saw street dancing in the movie “You Got Served,” a film about two friends whose only chance at achieving their dream of owning a record studio is to win a dance battle.Hip hop dance first started with James Brown and his song “Get on the Good Foot.” When everyone else was doing the hustle, Meiring said, James Brown was doing drops and spins.

Then deejay Afrika Bambaataa hopped onto the scene, playing the downbeat on the one in the Bronx. Gangs in the Bronx would use these hip-hop dance moves as warfare, instead of guns or knives, which is where “You Got Served” got the idea for a dance-off.”I didn’t just make these steps up, they actually have a history,” said Meiring.This is why, stylistically, a lot of the moves Meiring teaches resemble martial arts. There are a lot of hip hop moves that incorporate aggressive punches and steps.”Then MC Hammer came onto the scene with his pop and lock moves, and then there’s B-Boy, which is breakdancing,” added Meiring.



Meiring also points out the similarities between freestyle snowboarding and dancing hip hop. “I’m teaching the exact same techniques to both students, hip placement, flexibility, stretching and spotting for 360s,” said Meiring.And yet another similarity between the two sports, as Leo Salamunovich, 10, suggests: “I can show off all my hip hop moves to my friends.” But most importantly, hip hop dancing is another athletic outlet for boys to participate in replace of, or in addition to, standard recreational sports. “It’s fun to get out of our houses and just be with your friends. I do different sports. You get out breath easier here, other sports you just run a lot,” Remsen Allard, 11, said.

For more information about the Vail Valley Academy of Dance or the hip-hop class, call 926-2820.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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