Magazine article Dance Teacher

Ms. Vee How I Teach Popping

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Ms. Vee How I Teach Popping

Article excerpt

Peek into Valerie Ho's-aka "Ms. Vee's"-popping class at Peridance Capezio Center in New York City, and you'll see dancers appearing to have an out-of-body experience, pulsing their muscles as if involuntarily. But the way they're moving requires precision and focus. It's anything but an accident. Popping, Vee says, is "almost like a controlled muscle spasm or a twitch." That's how she describes the sensation of a pop-a quick contraction and release of muscles to create an explosive movement quality-to the beginner- and intermediatelevel poppers before her. Most are regulars, whether contemporary dancers with an eye on increasing their versatility or hip-hop dancers hoping to expand their freestyle vocabulary.

For Vee, the most important tenets of popping are moving safely yet dynamically; paying close attention to the points of initiation in the body; and maintaining a harmonious relationship to the music. With her technical approach and emphasis on anatomy, Vee brings a rare pedagogical perspective to popping.

This classic street-dance form, which originated in Southern California in the 1970s, punctuates the shapes a dancer makes throughout her (usually improvised) movement. For Vee, popping is a visualization of a particular sound or instrument in the music. "In the mid'70s, this heavy slap was introduced into the music on the two, four, six and eight. It had a heavier beat," she explains. "To me, the pop is a physical embodiment of that-a really hard, sharp sound."

Vee's warm-up-contracting and releasing different body parts interspersed with swinging movement and stretches-helps students develop that synchronous relationship to the music and learn to engage their muscles in a safe and efficient way. …

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