New hip hop dance video series teaches people of all abilities how to dance

·3 min read
Dancers Harmanie Rose, pictured far left, and Janan, centre, together with choreographer Kelly Riccardi in a video tutorial on how to dance hip hop — regardless of ability or body type.  (Curiko - image credit)
Dancers Harmanie Rose, pictured far left, and Janan, centre, together with choreographer Kelly Riccardi in a video tutorial on how to dance hip hop — regardless of ability or body type. (Curiko - image credit)

Harmanie Rose says dance has been one of her passions for 15 years.

This love for movement is one of the reasons she decided to participate in a new, three-part hip hop dance video series through Curiko, an online experience platform where people of all abilities can host or join events they're passionate about.

Rose, along with choreographer Kelly Riccardi, say the purpose of the videos is to teach people of all body types and abilities how to dance in a way that is best for them. They say the goal is to make the dance community more inclusive and diverse.

"I've been thinking a lot about how can you make hip hop natural for bodies that don't really fit into these average hip hop moves that are coming from within the community itself?" said Rose, who uses a wheelchair.

WATCH | Hip Hop Lesson 1:

Rose and Riccardi, along with others from the dance community, celebrated the release of the video series with an event at the Alternative Creations Studio in Vancouver on Friday night — one of the first in-person events hosted by Curiko since the start of the pandemic, according to its community mobilizer, Allison Chow.

Chow says being able to connect in person allows for people to share their passions with others and make new friends while also learning how to dance.

Adaptive dance

The hip hop dance series is a collaboration between Curiko and PosAbilities Association of B.C., an organization that provides services for people with developmental disabilities and their families. Riccardi works for the organization as a behavioural consultant and is part of the artist-in-residency program.

He says he first thought of the idea for a video series while connecting with others from the dance community over the pandemic, and asking them what they missed about dance. Most said they longed for dance classes.

Riccardi picked Rose and another dancer, Janan, to be part of the videos after hosting tryouts. Together, the three dancers go over some popular hip hop moves, such as the Scooby Doo or the cabbage patch, with instructions on how to follow along. They also explore others aspects of the genre, such as its history.

He says the reason he chose hip hop for the series is because the genre, through dance and artwork, has been used as an outlet to express what's going on in the world and to comment on social justice issues.

"I really got interested in hip hop and diversity and the fact that it included all different people from different shapes and forms and backgrounds," said Riccardi, who's been dancing for nearly 20 years.

Rose says one of the moves she learned is called the Smurf, where the dancer punches the air twice. She explains that she can't form one of her hands into a fist, so she keeps it open instead to create more of a slicing motion.

Riccardi adds that the videos also include American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation from Nigel Howard, who's well-known for translating B.C.'s COVID-19 provincial updates with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Although she's concluded she's not a hip hop dancer after doing this video series, Rose says she's glad she went out of her comfort zone and tried something different.

"It's really interesting to see how can we create moves ... for disabled bodies rather than moves that were made [for] able-bodied people," she said.

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