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Fordham Flava

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Fordham University

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Fordham Flava

Victoria Munoz

11.17.17

Read time: 6 minutes.

Photography by Spencer Krell

Over fifty years old, the dance genre of hip-hop gained prominence in the 1970’s through revolutionary, street-based dance crews. These dance crews shaped hip-hop dance by utilizing the emergence of “funky” music. This form of dancing was a phenomenon that swept the nation due to its creativity and spontaneity. Birthed at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in 1973, hip-hop is closely tied to the Bronx. On that day, and in that specific apartment in the South Bronx, Clive Campbell (DJ Kool Herc), introduced the classic break-beat style and coined the term “hip-hop”. Through constant trial-and-error and experimentation, revolutionary artists such as DJ Afrika Bambaattaa, Grand Wizzard Theodore, and Grandmaster Flash shaped what hip-hop is. This creation and revolution took place right here in the Bronx.
Hip-hop is still being spread, morphed, and celebrated in the Bronx today. We can see this specifically through Fordham Flava, the only hip-hop dance crew at Fordham University Rose Hill. Flava performs at different events around campus, culminating in a showcase at the end of Spring Semester every year. The dance team is made up of several dancers who have different backgrounds but one great similarity: a passion for hip-hop, its roots, and the magic it brings to dancers and to an audience. Fordham Flava specializes in hip-hop because they believe, much like hip-hop pioneers in the 70’s, that it has character unlike any other dance genre. Fordham Flava feels attached to hip-hop due to the music genre’s rich culture, presence, and its ability to express emotion.
Emily Kramer, President of Fordham Flava, believes “the music, the hype, and the energy that come with hip-hop culture enables a strong cultural and dance community to be formed.” The hip-hop community and culture is characterized by constant innovation. The magic of hip-hop, as Jeffrey Pelayo (freshman dancer) stated, “is all around us”. Not only do Fordham Flava dancers appreciate hip-hop’s culture and community, but they also appreciate the fact that hip-hop is soul-moving. According to Juliet Dooz, a junior Flava dancer, “hip-hop allows you to let go and lets you almost fall into another world." This combination of culture and emotion allows dancers to transcend beyond themselves when they perform.

"Hip-hop makes you feel strong and confident- it makes you feel known. When you dance hip-hop it’s as if people are compelled to look at you and pay attention to what you’re expressing- it’s truly empowering.” (Hannah Gammon, Freshman on Flava)


The empowerment and enchantment dancers feel while dancing fuels their passion. Much like Clive Campbell, Grandmaster Flash, or any other hip-hop pioneers, Fordham Flava dancers feel special while dancing hip-hop because hip-hop itself is special.
Because hip-hop requires both an extreme amount of physical and emotional ability, many struggle to categorize it as either a sport or performing art. According to Fordham Flava, hip-hop is both an art and a sport. Olivia Caneelierl, a junior Fordham Flava dancer, believes that “hip-hop is an art, but it requires a lot of athleticism and stamina. A dancer needs strength to execute a hip-hop routine to its full capacity”. In short, without the athletic skills needed in a sport, hip-hop could not fully live up to its potential as an art. Pelayo, freshman Flava dancer, stated that dance is not just a sport because dancers need “an ability to show emotion on another level”. This combination of physical, emotional, and mental strength is what categorizes hip-hop dance as both a sport and an art.
To fully experience the magic of hip-hop and the emotional and physical strength it demands, I sat in on a Fordham Flava dance practice. While watching them perform, I was amazed by the way the dancers’ personas drastically changed. The eleven individuals I was quietly chatting with a few minutes ago were now fierce, confident, vibrant, eye-catching hip-hop dancers. Their passion caught my total, undivided attention.
After observing their practice for a bit, I decided to join in on the dancing. Although I could probably be crowned the worst dancer in America (ask anyone who knows me), I couldn’t help but to join in on the fun. The second “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls came on and everyone was perfectly in sync I couldn’t help but to feel a major thrill. Although it was an extremely quick pace, everyone’s radiant energy helped me catch on rather quickly. Between clapping, bending, popping, and moving my body in ways I didn't think I could, I felt part of something bigger than me; I felt like I was part of hip-hop itself. If I felt this empowered after only 6 minutes of clumsy dancing, I can only imagine how Fordham Flava dancers or even revolutionary Bronx dance crews in the 1970’s could feel.

Students should feel an immense amount of pride knowing that in some small way, Fordham is still spreading the magic of hip-hop that was created right here in New York City over five decades ago.

Catch Fordham Flava tonight as they perform at Madison Square Garden as part of the championship game of the 2k classic! Follow their Instagram & Facebook to stay in the loop.