Street dancers at BYU want class, not just club

Brandon Henson does some hip-hop moves. (Photo by Ari Davis)

While dancers from other genres receive a lot of opportunities to express their talents, street dancers at BYU struggle on their own to develop their skills.

Brandon Henson, president of the BYU hip-hop club, said hip-hop did not become a “common thing” before he came to BYU. His talent in hip-hop dance gets more recognition at BYU. But he found one main concern among hip-hop dancers.

“BYU, as far as dancing, is more of a classical-like contemporary, jazz, ballet types of school,” Henson said. “I mean, there’s no hip-hop class here at BYU. And I would say even our club is the most popular and the most attended club in BYUSA. It just shows that there’re definitely interests in having a hip-hop class here at BYU.”

Henson said he found no difference in recognition compared to dancers from other genres.

Tyler Weeks, vice-president of the BYU hip-hop club, disagrees. Weeks said he loved that BYU provided a hip-hop club here at BYU. But a class would garner the attention they’re hoping for.

“You look at other dance classes, but there’s no hip-hop class,” Weeks said. “So there’s not as much recognition as other genres.”

Josh Hardman, a business major from Colorado, said he got to know more break dancers from different regions of America at BYU and learned more techniques from associating with those dancers.

“A dance class teaching hip-hop and break dancing will give students an incredible opportunity to learn unique dance styles that otherwise are not taught in BYU dance classes,” Hardman said. “A part of the dance cultures is missing.”

Hardman admitted it is hard to choreograph and teach break dancing for a large group because break dancing allows dancers to have freedom of movement. 

Students learn new choreography at BYU hip-hop club. (Photo by Ari Davis)

Timothy Tse, a pre-management major from Toronto, said his style of dance was a little bit different from hip-hop and break dancing. Finding a teacher that fits his dance style and knows how to teach is one main challenge for a class at BYU.

“It’s interesting enough that it’s hard to find teachers for those things,” Tse said. “That would be a reason. If they have one already, I would totally take the class. I really want to learn certain things about popping that only a master at popping can (teach). There are certain things that you can’t learn by watching, and you just can’t learn by trying on your own. You have to be taught those things.”

Nathan Johnson, a senior from Boise, said he would like to have a class to develop his dance skills, but he is also concerned about the quality of a class.

“A teacher knows a lot of different styles then it would be better because then he could teach more styles of hip-hop,” Johnson said. “Or they could have a bunch of different teachers for the class, get someone that taught popping, someone that was breakdancing, someone that was c-walking or locking.”

Henson ended his conversation with a wish.

“I keep saying there will be a day when there’s a hip-hop dance class here, but we’ll see,” Henson said.

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