PERTH has its first street dance studio aiming to inject some authenticity back into street styles and pay due respect to the cultures that created them.
Street styles are often divorced from their cultural context when they’re taught here, so dance teachers Isabella Boladeras and RHung wanted to ensure the teaching was true to the roots at their newly opened Leederville dance studio The Spot.
“There’s this whole area of the dance scene, a lot of the styles that came out of the US‚Äîhip hop, popping, locking, waacking, breaking ‚Äî so many styles that no one understands in Perth,” Ms Boladeras says.
“All the street styles get pushed under the ‘hip hop’ label which is not necessarily correct.
“There’s a whole genre of dance that’s just not being represented correctly. And it’s not anyone’s fault, we’re just not educated in the history of the styles.”
The street styles are “the ones that weren’t made in a studio,” Boladeras says, often developed in clubs and dance halls as people shared moves and built off each others’ repertoire. “It’s an organic way of creating a style.”
Culture and politics
The styles are often intertwined with culture and politics: Dancehall’s origins have been traced to Jamaica’s urban poor in Kingston, descendants of slaves excluded from high society dances. Waacking, a freeform style marked by intricate arm movements and striking poses, was forged by Black and Latin dancers in gay clubs in 1970s California. It dwindled during the AIDS epidemic, and is now resurging due to prominent performers on TV dance shows and social media.
Boladeras says it’s important to “educate people on where it’s come from and pay respect to [the originators], because it wasn’t always easy for those people that created the styles”.
The Spot’s instructors go to great lengths to learn styles authentically, travelling or skyping to learn from those in the know and pass it on to students.
“A lot of us travel over east and to Asia to train, and me and RHung were thinking ‘why aren’t we a training location? Why isn’t Perth somewhere people want to come and train?’,” Boladeras says.
“Mentoring that new generation is something we’re really passionate about.”
2/220 Carr Place, Leederville thespotperth.com