Dance fans — both street and classical — have a special opportunity this week to explore both the origins and the future of Memphis-style bucking and jookin'. The "Old School vs. New School 3" dance competition at Minglewood Hall pits Memphis' first generation Gangsta Walkers against younger dancers looking to see if their bucking and chopping measures up against the original masters.
"This is the first time in a long time that people will have an opportunity to see the original Gangsta Walkers," says instructor, artist, and event organizer Jaquency Ford, who has hand-picked the dance partners who'll be squaring off against one another at Minglewood. Gangsta Walking is the direct antecedent of jookin', the Memphis-born dance style that New York Times dance writer Alastair Macaulay recently described as, "the single most exciting young dance genre of our day, featuring, in particular, the most sensationally diverse use of footwork."
Pretty Tony will be in the house to perform his seminal club hit "Get Buck." Original Gangsta Walkers include Wolf and Romeo, two-thirds of the G-Style, the '80s-era rap and dance team that first began to mix breakdancing moves with "buck jumps."
A stone's throw to the east, at the new Hattiloo Theatre in Overton Square, FreeFall finds New Ballet Ensemble (NBE) presenting a concert showcasing the company's critically acclaimed hybrid of ballet, Memphis jookin', and world dance styles. NBE's program includes a revival of Noelia Garcia Carmona's Dos, a vibrant mashup of jookin' and flamenco set to original music by Roy Brewer and showcasing the talents of Shamar Rooks. The New Ballet Youth Company presents Doin' It Right choreographed by NBE alum and Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark dancer Maxx Reed.
NBE is also premiering "Three Dream Portraits" based on poetry by Langston Hughes with music by Margaret Bonds and choreography by General McArthur Hambrick.