Rize

Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring (Clown): Thomas “Tommy the Clown” Johnson, Larry, Lil Tommy, Big X

Starring (Krump): Tight Eyez (aka Ceasare Willis), Dragon, Baby Tight Eyez, Lil C

Director: David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle’s documentary explores the unusual dance phenomenon breaking out on the streets of South Central, Los Angeles, building on what comes naturally from traditional tribal rituals and mixing it with modern moves as a way to help the neighbourhood kids bear out the anger at their lives.

Tommy the Clown (Tommy Johnson) first created the style as a response to the Rodney King riots of 1992, by dressing up as a clown and dancing at children’s parties, and calling it “Clowning.” The movement was then further developed into “Krumping.” For the kids, it is an alternative to hustling and forming violent gangs. Instead, they paint their faces like warriors or clowns and form their own dance gangs, who try to outperform each other rather than gun each other down.

Unfortunately this does not stop their neighbours, but these kids show with a great spirituality how they can manage to rise above the impoverishment, drug addiction and violence of their background (indeed some of their stories are horrifying) to try and find a more community-based, loving outlet for their anger.

LaChapelle (originally a photographer) puts together some fitting analogies, subtly suggesting a connection with tribal inheritance and outpouring of anger without managing to ram it down your throat. The dancing is so fast it’s difficult to catch your breath whilst watching it and it’s a fascinating sight. Although this film has an important message, you will enjoy it more if you are interested in street dancing or hip-hop.

4 out of 6 stars

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