By Barbara Carranza
Photo by the author 

 

Hip hop in Florence? It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of dancing in Italy, but just like other parts of the world that have come to embrace the ever-growing hip hop music scene and culture, it’s making its way here and FUA is ready to expand on it. Joining their Department of Dramatic and Performing Arts this semester is the new course “Hip Hop and Street Dance”, taught by Professor Domenica Barra.

 

The lessons, which Barra emphasized are open to everybody, teach students about the basics of hip hop and street dance movement and the music that accompanies it. “They learn about the history of hip hop culture, the development of the culture and and dance since its origins in the early 1970s,” she explains. The culture context of hip hop and how it came to be is an important talking point. It originates from the streets of New York City and California in the 1970s by African Americans and Latino Americans who were inspired by funk, jazz, soul, and R&B music. Two of the revolutionary dances that led to the emergence of the hip hop and street dancing scene are locking and popping. The students explore the background of these dances, who were the masterminds behind them, and then taught the steps on how to perform them. Other dance techniques in the curriculum include soul dance, voguing, old school hip hop style, and new style.

 

Although hip hop dance is predominantly American, Barra widens the scope in showing her students videos and documentaries of European dancers. Examples include Storm from Germany who is known for popping, locking, and breaking as well as Patrick Pires, or better known by his stage name P-Lock, who is well-known for his locking skills and a close friend of Barra’s. Through this global exposure, the students are able to familiarize themselves with an endless range of choreography that can be useful for them to create their own routines; after all, hip hop dance is about freestyle (improvisation). 

For Barra, this is an invaluable chance not only for the students, but for herself as well as a dance instructor and studio founder who has taken on a new educational endeavor of teaching to an international audience.

 

“This class gives students a chance to learn something new about their cultures that they didn’t know before,” she says of the students studying abroad. She also loves that with this course, she can show young people the contrast that exists between art and hip hop. There is an urban dimension of hip hop, which at a glance wouldn’t suit Tuscany’s countryside of rolling hills and vineyards, but the beauty of hip hop is that it can blend in with any community and bring it together.

 

Hip hop dance is a form of art, and it has an international reach and influence, especially with the younger generations. She hopes that Italy will come to embrace it as well. “Dance is an organization of peace,” she says. “Hip hop can be found anywhere. You can find it on an island because it’s spread all over the world.” 


Future editions of the course at FUA can be consulted at the academic schedule of courses.

 
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Prof. Domenica Barra and "Hip Hop and Street Dance" students.

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