Temple dance professor, Dr. Sherril Dodds, went to London to give a performative lecture on break dancing. The lecture was entitled “Drilling, Grit and Flava: Epistemologies of Breaking” at a symposium on ‘Hip Hop Pedagogies’ at the University of East London’s Centre for Performing Arts and Development and the Dance.
The lecture reflected upon Dodds’ experience as a 50-year old novice b-girl. She reflected on how breaking has prompted ontological and epistemological ruptures that move her literally and metaphorically. In conversation with a practice-led methodology, she placed ‘doing’ at the centre of knowledge production. From this she came to understand concepts of drilling, grit, and flava, and she engaged in alternative models of learning, collective pedagogy, and community belonging. Through the performative lecture, she examined how sessions and cyphers enable her to encounter the aesthetic and history of the b-girl body, confront her present identity position, and begin to re-imagine the social and physical expectations of her body.
Dr Sherril Dodds, in collaboration with b-boys Steve “Steve Believe” Lunger and Mark “Metal” Wong, Co-Directors of Hip Hop Fundamentals, have initiated a new research project called “Life Lessons in Hip Hop”. The project focuses on on Temple Bboys, a student-led organization formally affiliated with Temple University, and the local North Philadelphia bboy community. The project has two main aims:
to document and preserve the vibrant dance practices of a Philadelphia ‘breaking’ community as its members engage in collective practice sessions and dance battles with other local dancers.
to elucidate how bboys draw on their embodied knowledge of breaking and battling to shape and inform other areas of their lives.