LA Weekly reviews The Underground

Mijo, King Charles, Miss Prissy. Photo by Dan Carino.

It was a long, long line that snaked away from USC’s Bovard Auditorium as the sun was setting Wednesday night, a diverse crowd and potential full house of 1,200 waiting to get in for the premiere of The Underground: From the Streets to the Stage.

So while we waited, we talked about what we were going to see: krumping, done live and in a theater.

Krump is street dance, L.A.-born street dance, 10 years old. In the 2005 documentary movie Rize, photographer and director David LaChapelle revealed its edgy wildness to a much larger audience. Here was an angry-looking dance; its participants were proud competitors with one another. The dance was shaped by equal parts frustration and joy, the effort to overcome the hardships of South Central and the creative spirit. A few of the movie’s leading dancers have since made it into the big-time of music videos and concert tours, including Underground performer Christopher “Lil’ C” Toler, who is also a guest judge and choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance.

The Underground was choreographed and directed by another krumping celebrity, Marquisa “Miss Prissy” Gardner, who has formal training in ballet, tap and jazz, but ditched it for street dance. Arts journalist and USC graduate Jessica Koslow (who writes about street dance for the Weekly) fell in love with krump and pushed to produce this first fully staged, theatrical show. …

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