Awesome White-Girl Syndrome

It’s amazing what a little bit of high energy music can do for a repertory class.

I sit out today from class because a couple of fire ants decided to have their way with my feet yesterday. So instead of dancing some amazing work from Alex Ketley, I get to sit out and take notes while my feet swell and bleed. I’m in awe of the man’s choreography and as I watch his movement style translate onto my classmates I try to break down what it is about the movement that is so satisfying:

The gestures style is very hip hop reminiscent

The movement is high energy and accompanied by high energy music

Changes in movement are sudden and break previous sharp lines for new angular ones or vice versa

The choreography is fast paced

Heavy involvement of the torso in creating shape and initiating release

The overall effect is a quick and exciting movement vocabulary. At one point the man tells the students to “rip [their] face off” in order to create the proper gesture.

Now back to the title- why is now a good time to talk about AWS? And what is AWS? This is a term I coined in my travels with hip hop choreography. It has to do with the way that people learn complicated, specific, fast, high energy movement. All of these things describe Alex Ketley’s choreography. In order to translate his movement correctly, you can’t give into AWS- also known as Awesome White girl Syndrome.

Awesome White girl Syndrome comes from girls who grow up in studios learning hip hop without appropriate female dance role models currently in the industry. In such a studio, a paramount element of hip hop is a stinging high energy delivery of choreography. Young girls pick up on this feature and emphasis it over the specificity of the movement. The result is a fully grown dancer who thinks that she is much more awesome at hip hop than she really is. Her main downfall at this point is the lack of annunciation in the movement vocabulary she is taught. A person who suffers from AWS hits choreography so hard that they inadvertently pass through the shapes and blur together all of the movement. Many of these people also have poor dynamics. Their speed and quality of delivery either goes slow or fast with little to no inbetween. Meanwhile, one of the best qualities a true hip hop dancer can bring to the table is a large variety of movement speeds and energy.

I’m happy to say that most of my classmates don’t fall into this category of dance.