I first stumbled across “Drop the Game,” Australian filmmaker Lorin Askill’s haunting video, while web surfing (as is my usual wont) for mind blowing and little known screen dance weeks before I heard it on KCRW. Created for fellow Aussies’—electronic musician, producer, and singer Chet Faker (with a name chosen to honor American jazz musician Chet Baker) and young electronic producer Flume — track of the same name, “Drop the Game” features the amazing dancer Storyboard P, who has at once emerged from Borough Hall competitions as the first official “King of the Streets” and brought “Jookin” to more mainstream art venues like the 2013 Brooklyn Emerging Artists Festival (BEAT Festival).
Every few years, a new dance form seems to poke its head from the cracks and dark alleys of inner city streets into the glare and fanfare of the mainstream. Like Krumping, first popularized in David LaChappelle’s 2005 film “Rize,” these “street” dance forms are indigenous in the truest sense of the word in that they seem to come from nothing more than a kind of raw physical and psychic urgency for self expression. Most recently emerging slowly but steadily into popular consciousness, Jookin is a dance form that reportedly originated in Memphis and seemed to first catch afire with international celebrity in 2011 via the exceptional dance of Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, in a YouTube clip of him dancing to Camille Saint-Saens’ “The Swan” accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma on cello. Jookin combines raw, improvised but seriously studied disjointed undulations and isolations, references moon walking and other more familiar street dance moves with ballet, and much of it is performed en point in sneakers. Lil Buck has now toured with Madonna and performed as part of her 2012 Super Bowl halftime show performance, and Jookin as a dance form has reached such stature that master classes for it have been offered at the Alvin Ailey Dance Center in Manhattan.
In “Drop the Game” Storyboard P ignites the craft with a humanity and urgency that is both completely spontaneous and incredibly rehearsed, and works beautifully with Askill’s shots and editing to create a dark, brooding, and stunning street ballet. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
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