Hip Hop I, for ages 5-10 and Hip Hop II, for ages 8-10, will perform with other Renton Community Center dancers May 17 at Hazen High School. For information about the classes or other Community Center classes, call Jennifer Spencer at 425-430-6711, or the front desk at 425-430-6700.
Robin Morris’ Hip Hop II class doesn’t have many rehearsals before recital, and the girls are spending this Wednesday evening practicing their moves in Renton Community Center’s dance studio.
The eight girls, ages 8 to 10, begin with warm-ups. They turn their heads side to side, up and down, then move into head rolls and arm stretches and hops and jumps. All to a thumping beat from the nearby boom box in the bright, mirrored room.
“Let’s get into our dance,” Morris says to the girls. “Let’s talk through it and dance through it.”
The music goes off and the girls stand in a cluster, Maddy Best, 9, kneeling in front.
Morris counts off: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…
Heads begin nodding, then knees bouncing.
“Little knees!” Morris yells. “And big!” she adds, when the girls should begin swinging their arms. The girls slide side to side, fingers pointed, then hands clapping, and spin.
“And walk,” Morris says, as the girls take lunging steps.
“Then we go into the boogie,” she says, about a move that looks like a complicated grapevine.
“And wiggle around, wiggle,” she adds.
Half the girls run to the back of the room and the rest stay put, as the back-room girls slide on their knees between the line of front-room girls.
“That last bit they came up with on their own,” Morris says.
Next is a mime-box move, floor twisting and some rollercoaster and big-truck dancing, which is the girls spinning while acting like they’re steering the wheels of big trucks.
The song they’re dancing to is Mystikal’s “Big Truck Driver” — the edited version, of course.
Morris turns on the song and flicks off most the lights for the next run.
“So let’s pretend we’re really in the theater, on stage,” she says. “The curtains are closed and so are your mouths.”
After a couple more run-throughs and some edits — they took out that complicated grapevine for being, well, too complicated — rehearsals are done for the day.
“Nice job, guys, very nice,” Morris says.
Morris’ Hip Hop II class will show off its moves with the other Community Center dance groups at a recital at Hazen High School May 17.
“I think they’re right about where they need to be,” Morris says of the Hip Hop II girls.
Morris, 48, of Woodinville has taught hip hop at Renton Community Center since January. She also teaches jazz and introduction to ballet at the center. She teaches modern dance other places and has taught musical theater. She has danced for 20 years, and taught dance for 18 years.
“I love it,” Morris says of teaching dance. “I really, really love it.”
She likes introducing dance basics to children.
“As a teacher, what keeps me interested is seeing the connection they make with enjoying their own body, seeing how their body moves,” Morris says.
Morris says probably 70 percent of her Community Center hip hop students sign up simply because they have seen hip hop on TV or heard the music. The other 30 percent are in other dance classes and want to try a new type of dance. Parents often sign up their children for hip hop to test their dedication to dance or to get them exercise, Morris adds.
Kyrian Brichoux is one of Morris’ experienced Hip Hop II students. The 8-year-old Seattle girl has taken ballet, jazz and tap at Renton Community Center. Tap is her favorite, but she likes all dance she’s taken.
“It’s just fun, all of it,” she says.
She signed up for hip hop because she’d seen others take the class, and it looked like fun.
Hip Hop II is fun, says Audrey Montague, 9, of Renton.
“I really like the class,” she says. “You also learn to defend yourself. Some moves can hurt people.”
Like the “hit the brother one,” says Natalie Vittitow, 9, of Renton. That move — an arm swing to the side with pointed finger — is Vittitow’s favorite. She’s also taken ballet and tap.
Madelyn Brown’s favorite move is the truck spin. Brown, 8, of Renton, is a fan of most hip hop moves.
“It’s like, you learn a lot of new moves, and get to do stuff you’ve never done before,” she says.
Emily Garland can be reached at email@example.com or (425) 255-3484, ext. 5052.