Stuntman aka Ricky RocAny
***Furious Styles Crew***
Style Elements Monster Squad
The education of a street dancer is an impressive process of organic development involving replication, and modification. A process of intellectual and artistic evolution where knowledge is passed on through gossip and hearsay changing ever so slightly with each telling, reshaping skills, moves and concepts at each iteration. If the skill is well suited to its environment, it endures. Remaining static almost guarantees death, survival feeds on momentum and so to endure, you must grow.
With that being the case, identifying a process for sustainable creative development is a good idea. There was a time when hip-hop tribes were easily identifiable by proximity and style, and this would be the primary source of knowledge, the fountainhead of creativity for the next generation of friends and foe. Crews would pass on what they had collectively learned to students who would take that knowledge, paired with an understanding of the mechanics and the motivation behind the new dynamic and in turn would contribute their own twist adding to the story. Pushing things forward. This was their sustainable process.
Now in an era where technology has to an extent homogenised certain aspects of art-form; the workshop, the physical exchange fully equipped with human interaction, discussion, debate, practical application, and review is more relevant than ever. Stuntman delivers this and more.
For those that don’t know, Stuntman is somewhat of a living legend in the process of touring Europe to exchange and build. So after arriving from the USA by way of Spain to then blow minds battling at Break Central vol.3 on the weekend, Stuntman arrives in the small east London Studio after a two hour trek across London.
He introduced himself while leading our group through a warm-up and stretch contextualising what he’s about to teach by taking us on a journey. After explaining challenges he’s had to overcome to acquire this knowledge, he doesn’t profess to have all the answers but instead makes clear that this is purely his approach and would invite critique to any aspect of his workshop. He’s humble, down to earth and easily relatable.
The Stuntman workshop, is appropriately called the Playshop. Reminiscent of Tim Brown’s Tales of creativity the Playshop identifies specific obstacles we face as artists and finds ways to challenge them. This perspective is one that resonates with Rain Crew’s own approach to creativity and is in fact a key component of our syllabus.
If you missed out, here are three examples of common obstacles and approaches tackled by Stuntman as understood by Rain Crew:
1) The confidence to create
“We are all born artists”. As a child you create things sincerely and unapologetically believing it to be art. True art. Whatever you created as a child was a true representation of what you see and how you see things both literally and/or abstractly. As we age we are taught to self-edit before putting ideas into the world to allow us to socially fit within a society. Consequently, rather than speaking out on an issue, putting forward an idea, or taking a chance to take a creative risk, we hold back. Artistically this is stifling.
Stuntman made it clear that this was something he could relate to, and immediately introduced ways of challenging this fear to create by constructing a judgement free environment where the dancers could put their unfiltered ideas into the world. How did he do this?… well… you’ll have to attend one of his future workshops to find out.
2) Creation through replication and variation
“All creativity is derivative”, i.e. originality is not something that appears in isolation. We create by taking a pre-existing concept, tweaking it, tweaking it again and continuing that process until what remains is completely different from the initial sample. This process works best where step 1 is not a major obstacle. If a high level of self-editing is in effect (meaning you hold an idea inside without putting it out into the world due to nerves, expectations or inhibitions), this can prevent the artist from exploring variations of that concept to create something quite unique.
Stuntman demonstrated this concept by taking one move, and exploring variations of that move through change of direction, posture, position, timing, etc. The range of variables can be limitless and the result left each dancer with multiple variations of a single move suited to their natural body language.
3) Creation through overcoming challenges
“Obstacles are a path to innovation”. The human brain has evolved to find solutions to problems. Our reward systems encourage it and we’ve become quite good at it. Ask someone to use a set of materials to overcome an obstacle and they will find a way. Take away those obstacles and we often struggle to find a direction or even a reason to create. As dancers, if we’re asked to create something new in a vacuum we immediately go blank. Ask us to create with specific limitations / variables in place and we immediately begin to test the extent of those limitations finding every available option through a process of replication and variation.
As one way of introducing this concept, Stuntman invokes the concept of the six-step. A sequence of steps created to allow B-Boys and B-Girls to move around their bodies in a specific way that could be taught and passed on. This could be done in any number of steps, and in any number of ways so Stuntman challenges the group to create their own version. This resulted in a range of new moves and sequences all unique and clearly distinguishable from the next.
This of course was only a small taste of the range of exercises and concepts explored in a single playshop.
On entering the room Stuntman immediately recognised previous attendees of his classes and as a result he adjusted the content of the session to ensure that everyone was challenged by something new. Throughout the session he routinely invited the dancers to test and play with their new moves to confirm that they were relevant to cypher, and battle settings.
Undoubtedly one of the best workshops hosted by Rain Crew, Stuntman didn’t simply teach moves, he taught each dancer how to create in a way that suited them.
If ever you have opportunity to share with this living legend, we recommend you take it.