Street dance is almost an underground movement but for the dancers taking part, it is their life. Only the lucky ones can call it their career. And amongst the dancers, many back-stories centre on dance keeping young people out of trouble. From drugs to gangs, young people can easily fall into the wrong crowd. The riots dominating the news recently proves this point, having reinvented the terrible stereotype of young people as thuggish, violent and threatening. Young people setting fire to shops, looting them for all their worth and running away from the police is exactly the kind of behaviour diagnosing fear and shame on the new generation. Recently there has been nothing positive to report.
This is where street dance could come in. What if there was an alternative to the violence? More passion, creativity, inspiration? Not anger, criminality, frustration? Street dance as a culture allows people to express themselves in a way that is unique to anything experienced at home or at school. Using the body and movement to let off some steam and create something visually impressive, not using the body and movement to smash a window or floor a policeman. It would be too simplistic to believe that we can conquer a generation’s dissatisfaction with street dance, but wouldn’t it be nice? Family values and discipline. Community spirit and determination. It seems like the perfect antidote.
Idealistic? Maybe. But there’s hope. Sunshine Studios’ summer camp 2011 attracted hundreds of this so-called disaffected generation. Spending a summer in a world away from the stresses of normality and learning a skill to open up expression. Channelling negative energy doesn’t have to take a violent turn, it can take a creative one. There IS room for manoeuvre. Maybe it is street dance which can continue taking the frustration of everyday life from the streets and into the dance.
By Sarah Stopforth