Telling the dancers of a huge hip-hop movement in San Antonio, its surrounding area or the State of Texas that dance is just a hobby or simply “fun”, would be a verbal lashing in a universal language and a slap on the hands and across the face of its dancers, choreographers, organizers, aficionados and competitors. Dancers simply look for venues to show their new moves they have worked on for a period of months.
The dancers are connected through a simple social networking site on FB where they advertise one another’s events and competitions. Incentives range from small monetary awards, awards in forms of clothing and attire, gift certificates or simply bragging rights-depending on the category. Once they RSVP and confirm their attendance, there is an understanding that decisions are final decided by nothing more than an artistic dance battle of the wits on the dance floor. The dancers usually battle on a flooring of 16′ X 16′ as supporters of such organized presentations surround them sitting on the floor, kneeling or standing. These dancers are not looking for audiences to purchase tickets and sit in comfortable theater seating but thrive on feeling the support of onlookers.
Round after round, the level of difficulty increases as the moves improve with creativity and even humor. The physicality ranges from stamina and endurance to strength, flexibility, conditioning and novelty. All moves in motion with the rhythm obvious to the revelers and the rhythms felt by the individuals.
Some of these creative moves is best exemplified by Hampton “Exorcist” Williams, a 23 year old from Dallas, Texas who travels throughout Texas to express his spiritualistic and artistic views, his pain, fear and interpretation to create an image of beauty and an expression of art that transforms into a form that matters. His style, in his own words, “is something projected of my lifestyle, struggles and successes.
Other such artists such as Jason Blackwell, a trumpet player when not dancing, expresses how he sleeps “it” and even dreams about “it” so much that he “can’t turn it off” He tries to slow down but he ends up back to jam and will be back at it again. He loves expressing his art form but doing just that would make him a starving artist. He truly dances for the love of it.
Dancing for this group of dedicated dancers exemplifies the devotion to a family. Families are a large part of this dance series . You see generations of revelers present who are cheering on their grandsons, fathers, mothers , cousins and sons & daughters. There is a large span of generations present fully supporting the competitors–all standing, sitting on the floor or even assisting their participant through working a vending booth or filming their works on the dance floor for future reference and documentation.
A family with strong ties in the hip-hop community is that of Hernan Cardenas. At this first mentioning, no one would know him. He is not known by this identity. He is known simply as Wizard. He has remained in the dance community for 18 years and is now 31 with a family of his own and whose children want to continue with his legacy. His daughter, Ariana, 12, exemplifies his love of dance as she practices often and wants to earn her dance name soon. Her brother, 7, hasn’t shown much interest as of yet but Wizard is being patient. He wants him to want to show interest but as of right now, sports has kept him busy.
To find this hip-hop world, is quite simple. The competition finds you through the internet and social media and through the community within word of mouth circles. San Antonio has a very tight community but welcomes others. Jeremy Williams, aka, Odious, 19, has only been competing only 2 years but his first competition took him to the semi-finals and once he tasted the potential for “glory”, he had to come back and get that title. Brent Maddox, 17, “Hitman”, is from Waco, Texas and is invited to events on a regular basis as his mother transports him throughout the state of Texas. A mother’s love supports a son and his passion. Hitman exclaims, “I am not passionate about anything else other than dance. I never want to stop. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.”
I think these words exemplify the feelings of many of these dancers who may not be a dance studio receiving accolades, on the stage with a crowd cheering or on a hit TV show, but their dedication, devotion and dependability within the crew they commit to renders a some praise. Many employers would love their employees to exhibit such persistence and consistency. Dance has extracted much more than just rhythmic movement, physical range of motion and creative expression from these individuals. For these dancers, dance has exposed a fundamental value of personality that is a precious virtue that should be valued by any of us.