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Interview: Du Fei of the Dangsters Dance Crew

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One recent sunny Kunming afternoon we found ourselves in the Dechun Telecom building at Xiao Ximen for the first time. The hallway of the fifth floor was filled with the sound of renovation crews doing their work. At the end of the hallway, the noise of saws and staple guns gave way to hiphop beats. Another crew was hard at work, but they were having fun.

We arrived at the new Dangsters Studio to talk with crew captain Du Fei (杜斐 - wearing the 'I heart BKK' shirt in the above video) about the Dangsters – a group of entrepreneurial young dancers who are making a living off of dancing at events and teaching dance courses at their studio. A group of seven dancers, including Du, were finishing up rehearsal for an upcoming promotional event for which they had been hired.

The high-energy routine finished with a flourish of whoops and clapping and the even more high-energy Du bounced over and introduced herself with a snap and a slightly vogueish arm and hip combination. GoKunming sat down for tea with Du to discuss the story behind the Dangsters ("dance" + "gangsters") and the state of hiphop dance in Kunming. Here's what we learned:

GoKunming: Can you give us a short history of the Dangsters?

Du Fei: Yeah, we started off in 2002 with just three people – back then we called ourselves KLT – and now we are a 10-person crew. We opened our first studio four years ago on Longquan Lu. It wasn't the greatest location because it was a bit far from downtown Kunming. Now we're in a much better location and our studio is much nicer.

People think Yunnan doesn't have hiphop... we started this place to let people know that we're here!

GK: There aren't many dance competitions in Yunnan, where do the Dangsters usually go to compete or perform outside of this corner of the country?

DF: Almost all the hiphop dance competitions in China are in Beijing, so that's where we usually end up. Recently we've competed in national competitions including the 2009 Keep On Dancing competition, the CCTV National Hiphop Dance Competition and the 2009 NBA Cheerleader Competition.

GK: In addition to competitions and commercial events, the Dangsters are also dance instructors. What kinds of dance do you teach and how often does your studio offer classes?

DF: We teach hiphop and jazz dance and have classes every day. Each of the crew members is also a teacher.

GK: How many students in Kunming have studied under the Dangsters? What kind of students come to your studio?

DF: We teach everyone... some students are in their 20s like us, we also teach kids and old ladies. [laughs] The older ladies like to dance sexy.

GK: Why do older women enjoy your classes?

DF: For older women, dancing can be a way of becoming more confident. It gives them passion, it can also give them power.

GK: Why did you personally become interested in dance?

DF: Because of Michael Jackson... he's my God. [laughs] The first time I saw him dance I wanted to dance like that.

GK: Do you think hiphop is just another trend or do you see more of a scene developing in Kunming in the coming years?

DF: I think hiphop and hiphop dancing will grow in popularity in Kunming and more people will get involved. Dancing has a positive impact on people – it makes them feel better about themselves.

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very hot and sexy girls but, honestly, can they do anything else besides copy the moves they see on tv from american dancers. If they love hip hop and dance as much as they say they do, then the Dangsters should know that creativity is at the heart of hip hop. Perhaps changing their name to the Copysters would be fitting.

Sounds like a jealous and non-constructive comment.. bring up your creativity so we can see what you are talking about!
"creativity is at the heart of hiphop"..haha!
I'll never forget this wise quotation of yours..

first,thanks for all your suggestions,hope you come to our studio and talk to us about your opinions..really,i wanna tell you that we've never copied the moves from tv,we usually get chance to study with some american dancers,and that's our pleasure.I just don't know why you think that we are'copysters'?because we can dance as goood as the american dancers who taught us those moves?or you're a teacher in school who doesn't yet know 'knowledge exchanging'exists in the world?now thanks for all your opinions,we'll keep dancing my way.we really dont mind that what you think of us,cuz we still dance better,we still grow stronger,we have our own style..it couldn't be copied from others,just by you wacthed a video from us..all the videos we uploaded,we have marked the teachers of those moves,you can search in google,or call me at 0086+13708433617(DuFei)..i'd tell you all about us,all about our moves,also,you can tell us what's the 'at the heart of hip-hop in your mind..And now,can you dance?

为了让更多的朋友了解我们Dangsters,以下是中文版本
你好,Hek,谢谢你的建议,随时欢迎你来我们工作室和我们交流,第一,我要告诉你的是我们从来不抄袭美国的Dancers,我们经常和他们有学习交流的机会,所以给你的感觉我们的舞蹈有美国Dancers的感觉,这个是我们的荣幸,让你有这种感觉,说明我们的努力没有白费谢谢你的关注,我们会继续努力第二,我们一直走的都是自己的Style,关于你觉得像不像美国Dancers,是你的想法和看法,对于我们来说这些根本不重要,我们只是有自己的Style,我们发上去的视频都有注明是和哪些编舞老师学习的,你可以去查……
第三,这个是我的电话:13708433617(DuFei杜斐欢迎你来和我们一起交流你所说的"at the heart of hip hop".
第四,如果你很忙,你可以告诉我们你的地址和电话,我们去你的工作室与你交流,希望你能让所有的Dancers都一起进步!(我知道你一定会看中文的
欢迎各位访问我们的博客并提出宝贵的意见):dangsters.blogbus.com
谢谢

Dear Hek.

First im a street dancer from South Korea, and I was one of the best 16 in the bettle competition "the Rhythm"which is pretty well known event in Korea, you can google it. I'm saying this to make sure that I don't that SUCK in dancing.

So, I guess you were not really paying attention in the beggining of the video clip? They metioned that they are using the choreography that they learned from THE very choreographer IN PERSON. So i think they are authorized enough to use that dance.

Since you were being so critical to them, let me be so. You said dancing hiphop is all about being creative. But then is being creative in hiphop all about the ability to create your own choreography??

I point the thing that there is such thing as BASIC MOVES in each ganre of dance. There is such thing as THE WAY you are SUPPOSED to express certain ganre of music.

Hiphop was first started in 70's by black and spanish people in Newyork, USA. And it was truely from the african dancing and party dancing. They would just get together in anyplace and dance. That was how they occupied their time with. And in all that, as they were dancing all together, they got influnced by each other, sometimes COPYING each others MOVEMENT also. (These informations are from the interview of E-joe and Brian green that I DID IN PERSON. I believe you've heard about the lagendary hiphop founders names.)

May be one persons favorite movement became everybody's favorite and that's how each movements evolved into each ganre. For instance, Popping was nothing but Boogaloo sam's way of dancing and people coppied it and that became a ganre. That's how hiphop has been evolving, as long as I know.

So, would you say that every popper's on the earth is not a genuine dancer? Would you say they don't know anything about hiphop??

NO.

What I'm saying is, copying MOVEMENT in dancing is not wrong. Because moves are only the TOOL of EXPRESSING MUSIC and ONESELF.

Every Poppers use basic moves or feeling of poppin, such as Boogaloo. But they've all got different feelings and ways of Boogaloo. Their own style.

Then, why do they boogaloo?? Because if you don't bogaloo, you ain't popping. Samely, house dancers all jack, becuase house dancing itself is from jacking and if you don't jack you ain't dancing house.

Then, what is being creative in dancing? It's about understanding music in your own way and feel it. And then express it in your own way and expose it for the watchers to feel it in the same way.

that was my thing.

Plus, if you've only seen this one video clip and saying "they can't do anything other than copying" then I suppose you don't really understand the concept of the LOGIC. Because those people who think logically do not judge things by seeing it's ONE side.

Hope you understand what I'm saying.

Sincerely,
:)

"At the heart of hip hop"it sounds like dude hek considers you never need to wear clothes because you have a powerfull heart to support you think that you just need to dress up "at you,dude hek's heart". Oh my godness that's ridiculous.It seem that you can not only understand the true essence of hip-hop, but also the life. What a pity

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