Quebec Krump pioneer builds a sense of community through street dance

·3 min read
Krump artist Vladimir 7Starr Laurore shows some moves during a weekly session which takes place next to Montreal's Olympic Stadium.  (Amanda Klang/CBC - image credit)
Krump artist Vladimir 7Starr Laurore shows some moves during a weekly session which takes place next to Montreal's Olympic Stadium. (Amanda Klang/CBC - image credit)

On a hot Saturday afternoon, a dozen people gather in the shade along Pie-IX Boulevard, next to Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Heavy bass music plays from a small speaker as the group forms a circle and begins to dance.

Each person moves individually to the driving beat, some swinging their arms into a fixed pose in the air while others crouch, stomp their legs and then change position once again.

Some of the movements show elements from other street dance styles, like poppin and hip hop. Others make the dancers look like warriors about to spring into battle.

At moments, each person stops moving to look at the others and shout encouragement.

"Work that chest!"

"Whoo!"

"Stick with that!"

"Milk it!"

Amanda Klang/CBC
Amanda Klang/CBC

The gathering is called a session, and the shouting is called hype.

It's all a part of Montreal's Krump culture, which brings together practitioners of the street dance style in weekly, public practice sessions to express their emotions and creativity through movement while supporting and challenging each other.

Amanda Klang/CBC
Amanda Klang/CBC

Aspiring footbal pro turned dancer

Vladimir "7Starr" Laurore organizes Montreal's weekly sessions, which also encourage curious onlookers to stop and ask questions.

Born of Haitian immigrant parents in Montréal-Nord, he is one of the pioneers of Krump in Quebec and Canada, having discovered it a decade and a half ago, just as he was leaving behind dreams of being a professional athlete.

"Krump was so seducing when I saw it first. Here was the same physicality that I'd found on the football field and the same intensity that's required to go and battle someone. I discovered Krump and went all in," he says.

"Krump is about alter egos and characters, not just about the movements."

It's about community connections, too.

7Starr co-founded the first Krump crew in Canada, Bzerk Squad, in 2005. He also taught the dance in community centres and schools, channeling the coaching and leadership skills from his time in athletics into the creative, expressive discipline of Krump.

"Teaching is the thing I enjoy most about Krump and it's the thing I'm best at," he says. "I love passing it down to the youth and building the next generation."

More than just a dance

Krump culture's earliest practitioners, influenced by the hip hop culture of South Central Los Angeles, gathered in church basements to seek new, positive ways to communicate in a physical language of their own.

In fact, the name Krump reflects these spiritual and philosophical origins. It is an acronym that stands for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise .

7Starr immediately recognized the potential of the dance to build community, as much as to provide an outlet for individual emotional and physical expression.

And he's bringing the dance style to the stage, too.

7Starr co-choreographed and performed a sold-out solo Krump show at Festival TransAmériques (FTA) earlier this month.

New performances are planned for September through the Conseil des arts de Montreal program, CAM en tournée.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

CBC
CBC
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