This post is long overdue and given the down time before we get another influx of overseas poppers it is a good time to bring this to light [July 2018]. I guess this can be applied to judging, event organising and other forms of dance. I have already brought this topic up numerous times at the popping summits and on social media, but it is definitely worth a revisit as a lot of new dancers are coming into the scene, and the current crop of dancers maturing [Sept 2018].
Original starting date of this post was on the 12th Dec 2012, I don't exactly remember what who sparked me to write about this topic though.
The Sydney and Australian popping community has come along way since I first stepped into the scene in 2003. The scene at that time mainly had overseas people (Yuki, Keisuke, Tsuyoshi and Nate) teaching popping classes, and Dancekool was probably the only dance studio that was offering popping in Sydney. At that time (~2004-2006) there was definitely a skill difference between home grown Sydney poppers and any international popper who arrives eg Kenky and Future.
That trend continued throughout the Sydney scene until Poppin Jack and Romeo Pop started teaching and hence becoming one the early home grown poppers to start teaching.
From then on and as our skills improved the scene started to rely less on internationals.
It is about Respect
Nowadays it seems that anyone can teach if they 'come from overseas' (or equivalent). They simply rock up to a studio and expect to be given an opportunity to teach a workshop/class. Sometimes it may not be them asking but someone in the community that doesn't know the extent of their actions [Sept 2018 update]. Unless their reputation transcends across the world or a respected OG they will have to earn their dues just like everyone else in the scene (and in their own scene) if they are want to teach/judge. Not only is it respecting the local scene's dancers that are currently earning their passage, it also prevents people who see the scene as a cash cow.
Maybe this is a territorial thing or a pride/ego thing but if someone enters my territory I'm not going to just let them walk over us, instead they should be 'tested' by the scene before even thinking about doing a class/workshop/judge. To someone who is skilled it should be a walk in the park and if a person feels that they shouldn't be put through the test (for whatever reason), don't be surprised/upset if no one rocks up to your class/workshop.
"This person is keen to fly down to Australia" is not really a legitimate reason any more because who wouldn't want a holiday/trip (accommodation, food, expenses etc) paid for with little to no personal contribution (besides time and effort), let alone potentially being paid to judge or do workshops/privates. It is a "win win win" situation for them.
My Hypocritical Self
On saying that, I did teach a class while in Beijing in 2014, so I'll attempt to justify my 2014 self (via the mind of my 2014 self)
- The leaders of the uni group wanted me to teach a class at their uni, they saw me dance at the Red Bull event where I made top 32 out of ~120 entrances.
- They wanted me to teach something that wasn't taught frequently (ie Tutting, animation), so I got something to share.
- I jammed/session-ed with the group before and after the jam.
- Not often will I be in Beijing, so why the heck not, it will be good to say I taught a class overseas.
- I felt like I taught a good class even with the language barrier.
My July 2018 reply to this is that, you should have not taught the class! If you wanted to teach/share just teach them via jamming/session-ing with them. Clearly it was in part an ego thing, to say you taught overseas during the time not many Aussies had done so. Maybe come back a few times, make yourself known within the community, get approval from the elders/leaders then go from there.
So What to Do? [Sept 2018 update]
- There are many other avenues for someone 'to share' with the community that won't disrupt the 'hierarchy' of the scene.
- Jam/cypher/battle - doubles as earning your rep and gauging your skill with the local scene. Probably the best method.
- Attending jams, events and befriending the community (for people who are staying long term) - obvious reasons
- Privates Classes - if no body knows, then no body will care.
- Street Classes - less 'prestige' compared to a studio class, still kind of in the grey area.
If we live in the Cinematic Kung Fu world i would totally do this
I know most of the time these guests and facilitators have good intentions and mean no harm to the community, so hopefully this article informs and gives a perspective to the people especially the younger dancers in the community to keep in mind.
I'm not particular sure how many people within the Sydney dance community (and over the world) who share similar views to mines, so free to discuss.