When Biggie sadly rapped, “I never thought hip-hop would go this far,” today that same culture we all know and love, has easily overtaken even his wildest hopes and dreams. In the decades since Biggie’s untimely demise, hip-hop has exploded into a global phenomenon in its own right that has infiltrated everything from presidential campaigns at Geico Advertisements. And while rap music is by far its most popular element, there’s no denying the impact of graffiti, deejaying, beatboxing and breakdancing on the cultural zeitgeist.
To this end, Red Bull dance your style The competition travels the country in search of the best dancers and performers, pitting them against each other in one-on-one impromptu battles in cities like Boston, Memphis, Atlanta and Miami. And as the competition draws to a close, with its national final scheduled for this weekend, the dancer and Red Bull Outrage entertainer has chopped it up with The root to discuss the importance of Red Bull Dance Your Style and its role in helping to advance the art of dance.
“Red Bull Dance Your Style is an open-style competition that features respected heavyweight dancers and their surrounding towns coming together to compete,” he explained. “It’s a chance for dancers to go into battle and experience crazy music or non-crazy music and get down.”
He does not lie. While the battles stay true to their hip-hop roots, contestants can expect to do their best moves on anything from Estelle’s “American Boy” to the nu-metal version of Alien Ant Farm on “Smooth Criminal” – which is exactly what happened during the competition stoppage in Los Angeles.
“I think what makes Dance Your Style different are the experiences that come with it,” Outrage said. “I think it’s professionalism and [the opportunity] for the dancers to take pictures and do interviews and all that kind of stuff. Being in front of the camera without physically dancing [all of the time], so that the surrounding audience and anyone watching has the chance to really see and understand the dancers from a different perspective, not just from the perspective of the battle. So I think that’s something that I really, really appreciate when it comes to Dance Your Style.
Part of this experience is a recap show on the Caffeine app which is co-hosted by Outrage, in which he has the opportunity to interview contestants and dissect the battles themselves with a delicate balance of nuance and affability.
“It’s kind of like a 106 & Park/Total live demand kind of vibe,” he said. “People who are in different countries and cannot watch the battles live can log in every Tuesday and do a recap. They may catch us talking about the competitors, what they did before the battle or after the battle, of their state of mind. […] It just gives people a chance to really dig deeper into the mindset of the dancers, rather than just seeing them fight.
As part of the dance community, Outrage is also acutely aware that its demographics have only diversified as the art form has become increasingly popular. And while he acknowledges that evolution is inevitable, he makes it very clear that this culture is based on black and brown creativity and should be respected as such.
“Some people don’t realize, or have a hard time understanding, that most of the dance comes from black culture,” he said. “We have a lot of people here who do these styles and don’t understand that. [There are also] many companies that do not want [acknowledge] it really is and there is no getting around it. […] [On our recap show] we do a quick little history lesson and explain to our audience where these styles come from, based on the city they are in [performing in], if a city has a [signature] style.”
He also addressed the importance of having black and brown participation at each of these events.
“It’s important, man,” Outrage said. “In the world of battle, having Black and Brown [people] who are able to be at the forefront, it’s beautiful, man.
And as someone who has cared for the dance community since 2006, he is also grateful that Red Bull has helped to push the art form of dance forward.
“I think they helped,” he began. “By bringing people together and [giving them a bigger platform] being seen. Of course, there are still things we can work on. But I think I can give dancers that platform and make them feel like they’re more than just a machine at work all day. Make them feel like someone. It is really very important. And I think that’s something the culture really needed.
Red Bull’s Dance Your Style National Final begins this Friday at 7:30 a.m. pm AND in Washington DC For tickets and information, go to the Red Bull website.