I like structure. It's my nature. I get joy when things are in order, sorted into proper categories and are easily identifiable . It's the neat - slightly compulsive - side of me.
However, my artistic side wants to be free and unrestricted. For years these conflicting views impacted my dance. I felt the need to stick to a particular style whenever I started a solo. Though popping was my forte, I enjoyed dabbling in other genres like locking, house, and hip hop. But I felt at odds combining the movements together. I wanted it to be clear to an outsider what style I was doing. I needed each style to be pure on its own. And my creativity suffered.
When I sought information from some of the pioneers in the dance community, they said they weren't concerned with labeling what they were doing as they created it. They were focused on expressing the music. If music made them pop, they popped. If it made them house, they housed. If it made them grab a patner and hustle, they hustled.
Somehow we became over-obsessed with regulating our artform. We began to identify ourselves by our specialities. We created division amongst dancers instead of realizing we were all doing the same thing. Bboys practiced here on this day of the week, and hip hop dancers practiced somewhere else, Poppers practiced from this time and then Lockers would come in afterwards. And I followed along - sticking with people who were like me until I was no longer inspired. I needed new ideas, new music, and new experiences.
So I stopped labeling what was I was doing and started dancing. No rules. No wrong. Just whatever felt right in the moment. That feeling of genuine expression is why I fell in love with dance in the first place. Even before I even knew what it was called.
When I teach today, I do label what I am teaching. It's crucial to understand what makes something distinct. But by the end of class I'm telling people to not let the structure define them. It's all freestyle in the end and you shouldn't let a name keep you from freedom.