Dancing in Columbus: Hip-hop

  • Photos by Joe Maiorana
From the February 16, 2012 edition

Alive hung out with semi- and non-professional contemporary, hip-hop and burlesque dancers. Their stories only tap the surface of the momentum their styles have. But, as you’ll read, every movement counts.

When Seth “Dedikate” Carter began b-boying in Columbus in late 1999, there were only a couple of crews.

“By the time I started, they were not battling, and most of the people had moved out of Ohio,” Carter said. “We started Street Symphony Crew, and that was basically the only organized crew in Columbus for a long time.”

Despite its rarity in the area, b-boying, or breakdancing, was something Carter knew he couldn’t stop.

“I love b-boying because not only is it one of the original four elements of hip-hop [emceeing, deejaying, b-boying and graffiti], but it kept me in shape and healthy, gave me an opportunity to travel and meet people of many different nationalities all over the world,” Carter said. “It is also a way of life for me. There is something really positive that happened inside my spirit as a result of the music, travelling and experiencing the relationships I had with other dancers in the community.”

So much so, Carter began deejaying battles on his own. Spread the beats, spread the love. He is one of the main men behind the Wylin’ Out dance competitions that take place throughout the year. Those events provide an outlet for emerging Columbus crews — Stylistic Rhythms, Killumbus Squadron and The Young Onez — to dance as well as an opportunity for people “from the hood and people from the sticks” to see how exciting b-boying can be.

“My crew is my life. B-boying has taught me how to respect hip-hop culture in general and how to respect myself,” said Kayin “Sketch” Glover, a member of The Young Onez. Glover, like many b-boys, is mostly self-taught with help from instructional YouTube videos, which have changed the accessibility of the culture.

Same goes for Aziel “AZ” Dunklin, a local popper who was the only woman who competed at a January Wylin’ Out at Diamond Dance Fitness. She is a member of I Am D.A.N.C.E., a local group of hip-hop dancers. What’s it like to be a woman in a male-dominated style?

“When I tell people I’m a dancer, they think I’m a stripper,” she said. That misconception about female dancers makes her work with teenage dancers at places like Transit Arts downtown even more important to her.

“I see other girls who are watching me,” Dunklin said. “I see how much they hold back sometimes. I just want to tell them to go. To try it. Dancing lets me show them what they are capable of.”