Ep. #59 Deeper Roots with Moncell Durden

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #59 Deeper Roots with Moncell Durden
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Many of us are missing a big slice of the pie when it comes to jumping in the freestyle circle… we are missing a big slice of dance history in general!  We are missing the CONTEXT. Leave it to my guest, Moncell Durden, to give you the full 360, and then some.  We are kicking off Black History Month, by going below the surface.   Moncell is a dance educator, choreographer, ethnographer, embodied historian, author and assistant professor of practice at University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman International School of Dance.  In this episode we focus on Hip Hop as a vernacular form of dance, meaning it is indigenous to a particular community and lifestyle.  Moncell stresses the importance NOT ONLY of techniques, vocabularies, pioneers, pioneers and innovators, but of the deep-rooted structures, behavior characteristics, and cultural identity as well.  Long story short.  If you are a dance educator, especially if you are someone who teaches or offers Hip Hop training, this episode is essential listening. 

Quicklinks:

Passion Fruit Seeds Enrollment: http://www.passionfruitseeds.com/en/?fbclid=IwAR1kJQ2YjRNUcy36fivj2MFvAKLPVlIMkT9ikLxAl5dOPo29HDI5zrXHvY0

Scatman Crothers Sweet Lips song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaX6gwK_2KA

Intangible Roots Website:
https://www.moncelldurden.com/


Cosmogram Diagram: http://www.tomgidwitz.com/main/87e58bb0.jpg

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: My Friend, My friend, do I have a treat for you today? Oh my gosh. You’re going to want to make sure you have a pen or paper or some sort of writing device today. Or you could just jump straight to clicking that download button because my guest on the pod today is the one and only Moncell Durden. Moncell, wears many, many hats. He’s a dancer, educator, historian, ethnographer, documentary filmmaker, and much, much more. Um, he is a fountain of information and this is information you’re going to want to hold onto. So I’ll let the conversation speak for itself. I’m not going to give too much of a preamble here, but before we dive into the interview, we’re going to share some wins. Yes. If you are an avid listener, you know how important I think it is to celebrate what’s going well. And for the last several episodes, we’ve been doing that at the end of each episode. And you know what I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna put it up front again. So here we are at the top of the episode, and here I go today, I am celebrating the first ever Words that Move Me Community group coaching call. It happened just yesterday. And I must admit I was more than slightly nervous about this call, which I think is normal when you’re doing something that you’re really excited about for the very first time. Um, and, and that was definitely this, but I was met by the most incredibly warm assemblage of bright minds and, and curious creators, um, simply honored to be doing this work with you. So thank you Words that Move Me Community members. I appreciate you. I celebrate you. Um, if you are curious about what that means or how to become a member yourself, check out theDanawilson.com and click on membership thedanawilson.com click on the membership tab. You got that. Okay. That’s me. That’s what’s going well in my world now. It’s your turn.  Yes. Crowd participation. Let’s go. What is going well in your world? 

Phenomenal. Congratulations. Please do  Keep winning. Okay. My friend, I don’t want to wait another second. I am so excited to share the wealth of knowledge. That is my guest Moncell Durden. Enjoy!

Dana: Moncell Durden. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

Moncell: Thank you for having me. 

Dana: Um, all right. It is par for the course. This is how we do it here. Take a moment. Take, take the challenge of introducing yourself. What, what would you like us to know about you?  

Moncell: Well My name is Moncell Durden. I’m from the East coast now residing in California, a dance historian, author, documentarian, researcher, uh, probably a host of other things I can’t think of right now. Um, you know, just started my, the founder of Intangible Roots, which is an educational platform, um, developing programs to help people learn, to build certifications, um, to share knowledge. Um, I’m a professor at University of Southern California, uh, for the Gloria Kaufman International school of dance, been there five years. And, um, yeah, I don’t know. It was a few other things, I guess people will learn along this journey.  

Um, so we have a mutual friend. Her name is Ardyn Flynt. She’s a USC grad and absolutely extraordinary dancer, um, with the kindest heart and a very bright mind. Having a conversation with her, it feels a little like school sometimes, I learned so much every time. Um, but before I heard your name from her, I had actually heard of this documentary called Everything remains Raw. I didn’t know it was you.  Could you tell us a little bit about the doc and what your hopes are for it?  

Sure. Um, the documentary, it speaks to and uncovers the genealogy, of African-American social dances. Uh, it’s something I started in 2003 and continued to work on it. Uh, it’s not just the 90 minute documentary, but it’s my original idea was to have a series. And so I’m trying to find the right supporters and backing to bring this film to light. It’s a ton of research that continues to go on. And, um, it’s an educational tool and I hope, you know, we we’ll, we’ll either get out to the people one way or another, you know, Netflix or some other streaming service or on television or on the big screen. Uh, but the idea is to really talk about the things that are overlooked in dance practice. Uh, so it’s not just about, you know, this time period and, and, and the dances we did, it really speaks to the social, political, economic, environmental, cultural, um, and spiritual space that inform these dance practices. So I really want to provide a context into the why behind the, what  

I love that you said that. And I think that context is probably the most important missing link to all of the education and honestly, a lot of the celebration that we’re doing this month around black history month, I think it’s that context that is the most important thing. So, uh, maybe let’s go back to Ardyn for a second and USC. Uh, so Ardyn speaks highly of you. You are a mentor and a friend, and, um, she talks a lot about what you did for her and for the program at USC. Uh, could you tell us a little bit about what and how you teach there?  

Uh, so I teach, uh, theoretical classes and practical classes. Uh, the theory classes are the three lecture courses. I teach African-American dance. What I refer to as an illustrated history and hip hop, don’t stop exploring black vernacular dance practice. And currently I am teaching, uh, the origins of jazz dance. So those are my three lecture courses. And for the elective students, I teach hip hop dance. For the majors I teach house. So we’re, we’re kind of set up. I think we’re one of the only institutions in America that has six community practitioners from hip hop teaching in one university. It’s sort of unheard of. You might get one, you might luck out to get two, but six. And so, yeah, we have, haven’t worked out where we’re able to focus on different forms under the umbrella, of Hip Hop, you know. The first year students come in and they get a Sebela Grimes movement system called Fundamental metal, metal kinetics refocusing on hip hop movement, but from a social cultural perspective and really giving you fundamentals as sophomore, see me and I teach house and our juniors are taught by Tiffany Bong and she covers whacking and locking and the social dances of the seventies.  And we have Amy O’Neal who works on rhythm structures and composition, uh, Randi Fleckenstine who works on floor movement. 

Shout out Omega Floorwork!

And, uh, she’s a phenomenal B girl, but just a phenomenal dancer. And so she’s doing she’s new and she’s doing amazing work. And then we have Shannon Grayson who also teaches the party dances of hip hop. So it’s a, it’s a nice, you know, some nice cohort of community-based folk in a institutions giving real grass-root lessons than what these forms are. Sometimes… I’d be remised to say that some times, uh, well, this year I’m working with our, uh, theatrical department and teaching authentic jazz to them. So that’s, that’s really cool.  

Uh, that is that’s exquisite.  I’m happy to hear about the USC family. I know a couple of students going into the program, um, and several that are coming up through it and graduating and crushing it in the world. Um, if we could stay on the subject of training for a second, um, I didn’t go to college for dance and I did grow up in a studio setting. And, um, I’m grateful for my studio teaching experience or studio learning experience because I see it as somewhat of a sampler platter, like a little bit of tap a little bit. Well, a lot a bit of ballet at which I did not a lot a bit succeed. Um, a lot of, bit of many styles, which drove me to pack up my Volkswagen bug and moved to LA when I was 18. And I was very fortunate in my timing and placement once I got here, um, because I had a very hard conversation with b-boy Kmel. I remember it like it was yesterday who looked me in my face and laughed and said, you are not a dancer. You are a computer. And I was, you can imagine also his words. He didn’t say it quite like that.  

Oh yeah, I know K 

So in that moment, I was obviously, I felt very exposed I got extremely defensive. 


As you should. 

But around that same time, absolutely. Um, around that same time I was introduced to Toni Basil. I learned everything I know about locking from her. And for a short time I studied with Suga Pop. I learned everything. I learned everything I know about popping from Pete himself. Like I got very lucky in my timing and placement and, and those people gave me an appetite for freestyle in general. Um, but for funk styles in the, in the big picture. And I knew at that time that K was not wrong. Like once those worlds were open to me, I knew he was not wrong. Even in the moment where it was like, you don’t know me, I love dance. I have a heartbeat, I’m a person. But I knew I was like, Oh, damn, there is more to it than this. And I, I did always felt very uncomfortable when I wasn’t being told exactly what to do.  So, um, one of the things that you talk about is how a lot of dance studios and studio environments offer hip hop to stay competitive.  They offer it because they have to, and they find someone who says that they can teach it or has some sort of following. So I wonder, I know that I have some teachers listening and I’m wondering what you would say to them. Um, words of wisdom or inspiration, or maybe a quick slap on the wrist. I don’t know. Oh, leave that up to you. But we have a problem in that people who don’t know are teaching oftentimes and, and how do we solve that problem?  

I’m not sure if I have the answer to how to solve the problem. I definitely give slaps on the wrist.  

Let’s go tough learning. That’s why we’re here. That’s why I’m here.  

You know, they, I have a lot of, so I didn’t, I didn’t go to college and I didn’t grow up in a studio. In fact, I didn’t know people went to studios to learn dance until I was somewhere in my late twenties. Uh, because I grew up in an environment where everyone, I knew danced, whether you were two or 82, they danced, they danced on roller skates. They did the dancers from their generation. You were not special because you could dance because a six year old will embarrass you. And a 50 year old embarrass you and you’re 15.  .It was something that was just done in the community. You know, for most African-American people, um, they learned dance. The studio is the living room, is the backyard is the basement is the party, is at school. That’s where you learn dance. And so studios are a business. And in my opinion, there, they are not about community. They may think they are, but they’re about performing. This is the structure of a studio is to teach people, forms of movement that don’t exist in their environment. Why else would you need to go study? You know, if you grow up, if you’re born in France, you don’t necessarily go to school to study how to speak French. You grew up with it. And it’s just under know, it’s understood in the learning process. You’re surrounded by it. You know, African children do not have to go to school to learn how to undulate their bodies and do their cultural dances. It’s what you see everybody doing. You learn it. But we go to school to learn stuff that is not accessible in our community. It’s not our live practice. Ballet is not a cultural practice that has an environment that supports it like Europe does. And even I would argue even in Europe, because we’re talking about something hundreds of years old, that’s really, truly speaks to a particular time period that has been reinvented by others and approached in different ways. But the thing, it’s a performance it’s not done in a club. You don’t learn ballet to go social dancing. You learn it to hit the proscenium. And that’s where it stays. That’s where it lives and you leave it to fence. And so the idea of social dancing has been something that has been disregarded in this country, dating back to the 1870s, where a lot of movements in different organizations and societies were built. You know, you think of in Chautauqua movement that came out, that was a summer camp that focused on social decorum for young kids through dance. But it wasn’t about the dance. It was about how you’ve used dance to elevate one status in society. It wasn’t so much about the dancing itself or how dancing was used to align people politically, aligned people economically, um, uh, to, you know, create relationships and what have you and the studio they’re not operating in those same ways. A lot of that has been the foundation. If you will. They’ve a Eurocentric approach that is not necessarily about community is about one person standing out that the end goal is to be on stage and to do all these other things. And you know, people are asking me about hip hop in particular, or where do you see hip hop in 50 years? And I was like, I don’t really know where I.. What I do know, is historically I expect young black kids to still be dancing. Now, whether or not they’ve had ever get a job ever be in a movie, ever be on stage, they will still dance. They are not dancing to get to the other side of the room. They are not dancing to be on camera. They’re not dancing for any of that. Cause if none of that stuff existed, they would still create dances. And you think about a community who does it for, uh, and this could be argumentative, but who purely does it for the love of it? And there’s no trajectory, right? I love this dance. I’m going to create new movements because when I was coming up, you had to, if you did a move in the club one week, you better have something different the next week. And so think about kids, kids who go to studios or go to college, spend thousands and thousands of dollars. And it’s like, all right, if you would you train this hard, if you were never going to get paid for it, if you’ve never had the opportunity for a job. Now, maybe that’s an unfair question, but that’s a difference in doing it in the community as just a normal way of expressing your everyday lived experience through movement. It is not about the studio practice. And, um, I think that there’s a disconnect with trying to bring an art form that is not strictly about performance into a space that, that’s what it’s about. That doesn’t, you know, most studios, you know, a lot of know have Marley floors. Well, hip hop is an art form. If you wanted to call it an art form that you don’t dance on marley, you dance on hardwood floors. And so some of these studios are not even set up that way. And then even still, oftentimes if they do happen to have a wooden floor, they might do a performance somewhere that still has Marley. So you’re not truly set. You’re bringing people into an aesthetic without appreciating the aesthetic that the dance and the environment that the dance comes from and how it moves and grooves.  And so I think if studio owners want to have that, they need to understand that technique just means structural alignment. You know, I’m a trained dancer, this phrase like every dancer is a trained dancer. They train in the form that they know that they had, that they love to do. And you know, when you think about ballet and you’re in a studio, learning ballet, you’re learning any, any dance form, a person learns, you are learning a social cultural practice. Ballet speaks to a particular time period. That is based in gestures of that time period is based in hierarchal thinking from a niche community. And this is what the movements are built around. And you have to understand the context of the dance to really move in in the way that, you know, this is, this is, this is the meaning and the message of what you’re doing and all dance forms do that. So if you learn, you know, tap, there’s a social cultural experience that goes with that. If you learn modern, it was a social, cultural experience goes that same with hip hop and it’s understanding. And some of the studios needs to understand that we’re bringing these art forms in. There is proper cultural significance that go with it and you need to have qualified instructors, you know, but the studio also have an issue with, because it’s such, and I don’t mean to harp on it, on studios like this, but it’s such a money game. Cause I used to teach in a lot of studios and you know, you have 21 year olds teach the 15 year olds. The 15 year olds teach the 13 year olds. And the 13 year olds are teaching the seven year olds. Are you kidding me? Parents are paying for 13 year olds to teach their five and seven year olds who are being taught by the 15 and six. Like it’s ridiculous. Um, because you can’t get enough quality teachers to teach those different levels.  

I would imagine, especially if you’re not in a big hub city. 

Right, right. So you have to do like, Oh, well, you know. These two students are really good. They’re the top tier in our studio. So we’re going to have them teach the lower students, the younger students. And that’s such a disservice because you’re, you’re being taught by someone who’s not qualified. Who’s growing, who hasn’t developed the skillset to be at a high level as a teacher, what parents should be paying for, you know, studios know that if they don’t offer it in the studio down the street could. And so I remember in Philadelphia, a lot of studios, I talked to a lot of owners and many of them thought that hip hop was the new name for jazz and I’m talking commercial, jazz, not authentic jazz. And so he just didn’t know. And I I’ve had students at those studios telling me that the owner, the students were asked to teach a hip hop class and the would, well, I don’t do hip hop. And then only the studio would say, well, this dude watch this video and do what they do. So there’s no, you wouldn’t do that with a ballet class.  

Right. Watch this video and do what they do, yea.

But it shows you how little they think of a dance. They think it’s, you know, it, it has no structure. They think it has no form and has no vocabulary and technique. And this is what they need to know. We think as my boy would say, recognized, not just recognized. You know, uh, and that’s, you know, that’s the biggest, I think, struggle that studios have, it’s trying to work in this model that has been passed down for performative sense versus something that is based on social engagement. And the two have not had a smooth transition and have coexisted.  

I think if we are to make a dance analogy on the subject of transitions, I think the first essential piece of a successful and smooth transition is simply the awareness. I’m aware of my shoulders and my pelvis in this position, in this place. And I know they need to go over here and I hope that this episode helps a little bit at very least with that awareness. I, I can’t tell you exactly how to transfer the weight. Um, I don’t have the steps in between, but I, I can hope. And thank you, Moncell, for offering this like moment of awareness.  Uh in your writing and one of the pieces that I read while I was in your course intangible roots, um, you, you explain hip hop as a vernacular form, which really just means that it’s indigenous to a particular community and lifestyle. And when we remember that, we remember how much comes along with that. And I think that a lot of people are quicker, faster, more confident to jump to teaching hip hop in general than we are to teaching, you know, this Sudanese dance or this, this Greek dance or something like that. But that’s really what hip hop is. It really is all of that. It has techniques, foundations, pioneers, important people and dates and histories and vocabularies that really are to be regarded, revered at very least re recognized. Uh, um, so thank you for that. Um, if, if maybe that’s a good segue, actually, while we’re talking about meanings and messages and the breadth of everything that comes along with hip hop, I do want to talk about your course intangible roots. It was a highlight of my 2020, which albeit, uh, that bar was set pretty low 2020 had some tough, tough times, but I so valued my time in that chair, watching, listening, reading, writing. Um, so I want to talk a little bit about that. Uh, we talked about like some of the outstanding things, especially for me, a person who works a lot in the entertainment industry was when you spoke about film and TV and the stereotypes of African-American characters, like the Mammy, the Uncle, the Sambo, I was like, Whoa. And as you were showing these clips from commercials and TV shows and cartoons, it was non-stop bombardment. And that, that shook me to my core. Um, I learned how to more responsibly digest dance media, like little class clips or, or big film dance sequences. So that was super valuable. But I think the, the most new information to me, and maybe the most moving as well was this, um, the concept of the circle, the cipher. Um, so could you talk a little bit about, um, ring shouts and this symbolism of the circle?  

Well, ring shouts, as they, as has been suggested was America’s first choreography. And Ralph Ellison said that. And what it was was a way for enslaved people to cultivate community, to cultivate space for their spiritual practice. 

Because they weren’t allowed to practice their religion.  

They weren’t allowed to practice their religion. They were being taught a different religion, but they had the wherewithal to, to recognize that the religion that was being passed on or forced upon them was similar in what their belief system was. We just had different languages and different ideas. So through the journals it mentioned how they likened your practice to a Christian. Christian Saint was, you know, similar to the Yoruba deity. And they say they sort of undergird their practice, um, beneath this Christianity and gave the appearance of performing Christian belief practices all the while they’re doing their thing. And so it also, it’s something that gave way to at the time, what you would have referred to as Negro spirituals, which later we know as gospel the combining of European hymns, which had no words to these enslaved African people humming these, uh, these tunes, these hymns, but adding words to it based off of their agrarian practice, based off of their lived experience at a time and creates the stories that go with gospel early gospel songs and the ring shout, being something that coming out of your book, traditions of a cosmogram and there are many different shapes of a cosmogram and the very basic one, having a cross with a circle around it with a cross in the center of the circle and at the end of each line of the cross there’s smaller circles, which represent the sun and the trajectory that the sun, the perception that the sun moves. The perception that the sun moves, counter-clockwise I say perception because a know lot of the sun doesn’t move. No one on this planet has ever seen a sunset or sunrise. That’s just language that we use, but the sun doesn’t move. So it can’t rise or set. Uh, the you’re actually witnessing, we are actually witnessing the rotation of the earth, but nobody’s going to say they went to the beach to watch the rotation of the earth. 

It doesn’t have the same ring to it. Yeah.  

Right. Not at all. But the ring shot is built on this idea of having a verticality coming from spirituality, going into human existence, the horizontal plane, which separates those two, those two planes and the top sun representing high noon, which is male energy. And the bottom sun representing midnight, which is female energy and the circle representing the water. And the very centerpiece, the crossroad is Elegba by, uh, I’m horrible at spelling E – L- L- E- G- B- A (ELEGBA *only one L) believe I might have that wrong.  

Well, you might have it wrong, but I have a diagram that I can refer to. And I will definitely put a diagram of this in the show notes for everybody who’s listening and struggling to imagine. Um, I will absolutely add an image, uh, but carry on.  

And so, you know, this, if you think about Haitian, uh, Voodoo or Vodou um, was it not really the term that was used back then, but it’s what we bought. We connect and this practice was being done there in Haiti, it is, you know, the center post is a space where it allows the spirit to come in and Elegba is a trickster. Um, know, you know, what is it’s false or real. And, but then there’s the lwa, which is the spirit that mounts the body, as they were saying, you say mount to body, because it relates to a forest, uh, a horse with a rider that the rider mounts a horse. So when you say that the low owl has mounted a person, it, the spirit that is connected to him, but we speak of that in Pentecostal or Baptist churches, you speak of that are being touched by the Holy spirit or catching the Holy ghost. You know, you have this kind of language. In hip hop, you might say something like, you know, you blacked out or you went down or you’re going off is basically the space that a spirit enters into your existence and sort of takes over the movement that you’re doing, where you don’t even realize what you just did. Um, the circle in the Cosmogram also represents the perimeter of the circle and dance. And then that crossroads and the center is that person that is in the center. And that in the energy that can come from that, the circularity of the people in the perimeter feeding you in the center energy is where, and, and the guidance of the music is where you reach a devined spirit, or you can reach the Devine spirit, which was the whole purpose of this as a spiritual practice in the first place, was that the drum, a Mambo, which was a priest or priestess, but knowing that the Mambo where the spiritual guides to connect to that, to that other world, right? And it is believed that it is through the water, that the spirit can enter into our human existence hence the separation, um, babies being born through fluid, and the idea of humans being spiritual beings, having a human existence, not human beings, having a spiritual existence, this all plays into that concept. And the circle is a representation of that cosmogram right. That spiritual drawing. And it does the exact same thing. It, it creates that space that allows one to celebrate their individuality while also being attached to the community and the two feed each other, you know, you, you are part of the community, but we still acknowledge your individuality. So you might be in the center. And at some point you come out and someone else goes into the center and they are celebrated. There’s also a space of protection where you can see everybody’s back and you can warn them of any danger. So again, it’s that, it’s that way connected to a ring shot, where it is a it’s a coming together of a community to cultivate a safe space for them to practice their spirituality. And in dance’s case, it’s the, it’s the spiritual connection to the divine through movement and music is it’s doing the same thing. It’s just not perceived in the same manner, but it is the two things are one, one comes from the other. 

This is exactly why context is important, because if you are taught to jump in a circle as a, as a 13 year old in a hip hop class somewhere, which I admit I am fully guilty of this, I thought I was doing right by having your freestyle circle at the end of every class. But without any context at all, that circle doesn’t feel like a safe or spiritual place. It feels like 360 degrees of eyeballs judging you. And I think without the context of what that space can be, what it was created in, or, or intended loosely, I’ll say, uh, what it was created to be is something entirely different. I’m so glad I learned eventually what that is, um, and, and learn this concept and show and prove and became a person who is as comfortable in a circle as I am on a stage doing, you know, predetermined moves at predetermined rhythms. Um, but I think that in addition to this like deeper understanding of the symbolism of the circle, also one of the other things that helped me thrive in a circle, or like just exist there without feeling like I was going to implode on myself was, uh, becoming more familiar with party dances, learning enough social dances, that I had a good enough vocabulary to actually deconstruct things. And then reconstruct things. Like I don’t, I don’t know if somebody would be able to identify that I’m doing, uh, a Smurff or a Robocop because it’s that far deconstruct, it’s something else now, but without those dances,  existing in that space was really uncomfortable for me. So I thank these party dances, um, uh, for a lot of my evolution is dancer . And I do want to talk about party dances for a second because, Oh, by the way, I say party dances. And I, I suppose that’s just how many of these dances were introduced to me. Is there a right or wrong social dances versus party dances? If I’m talking about the cabbage patch or the Biz Markie or, uh, the Prep or the Reebok or those social dances or party dancers.   

No, that language is interchangeable. Um, it’s all mean the same thing. I mean, the dance is whatever the name of the dance is, and it was something done at a party, which is a social event. There’s no right or wrong.  

That’s good to know. I’m glad I asked because there are a few, um, areas of insecurity that I have. I have definitely been a person, you know, before I moved to LA in my early days, who would call somebody a break dancer… when people have asked me if I’m a Hip Hopper, I have said yes… And so I’m catching different ways where language can be terribly, terribly misused. Um, and I was wondering if that might be one of those. Okay. So social dance/party dance, thank you all the dances. But, um, what I, what I’m curious about is this quarantine moment that we’re in all the distance, which honestly, except for maybe the Kid in Play, I can’t think of, uh, of, of a party dance in my vocabulary that requires like a handhold on another person. If we go further back and we start looking at Lindy, Charleston, swing, things like that, very close proximity, like a super close embrace, but we got far apart for awhile. And my guess my romantic hope is that post quarantine or post vaccine, post Corona virus that we’ll come back together and that hands hands will touch again. And we’ll be dancing together again. That’s my secret hope, I guess. Um, other than that, there will be dancing, which you mentioned there will certainly be dancing. Do you have any ideas on the social dances or the people that are on the front line of creating them? 

Those are young people, you know, 8, 9, 10, 15, who are not concerned with holding anybody else’s hand, you know, and it’s understanding the, the, the shift in what partner dancing has become to a degree. Though. Um, Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, has she doesn’t consider partner dancing if you don’t touch. And I sort of disagree with that. I understand where she’s coming from, but you know, Lindy touching your partner, uh, any of the bop, it tango, the Philly Bop, uh, DC hand dance in Chicago stepping, the hustle, touching a partner that does not take away. The fact that me and another person doing the twist, our partner dancing, even though we’re not touching, like we are fully engaged with one another but not touch them. Hip hop was the same thing. If you dance with someone, if they’re doing the wop, you’re doing the wop, you are connected, you are it’s wireless transmission. As my boys would, say, you pick up on what they’re doing and you join in. It’s a call & response. Um, that gets that going, but then there’s a togetherness. So even though, you know, you’re not touching, you’re still dancing with someone.  

I love that argument. And that argument gives me hope for the rest of my lockdown.  

Yeah. So, I mean, you know, hustle made a huge resurgence, everybody’s doing the hustle. So I’m sure the hustle community is definitely going to be out there. People are going to be taking partner dances and salsa and everything else that’ll definitely grow. Um, and then people will be, even though they’re not touching communities of dances, we’ll be looking forward to going back to the parties and being collectively together, hearing the same music, sharing the same vibe, doing the same. So it’s, it’s just, you know what you want to focus this on. I would not focus on the fact that they’re not touching, but they are together. And, you know, if you really want to get philosophical, everybody’s touching through the air in the first place. If there’s air, we are touching  

Lets go! On the particle level.  

When people talk about the senses of the body, they talk about, they get to touch, right. You know, smell, hear, see they get to touch, but I’m like, if you, if you’re standing outside and the wind blows, you feel it, but nothing touched you. So you got to expand your idea of what the senses are. What touch actually is.  

I, I really do think that togetherness is… starts here (in the mind). And so we can dance here on a zoom call and have a sense of togetherness, uh, without touching. Thank you for reminding me of that. Um, okay. I don’t wanna, um, bamboozle your time this evening, but I do, I forgot to ask one thing right at the top. So maybe we’ll end with, with sort of the beginning, I would love to share a little bit of the etymology of the words, hip hop. It’s one of my favorite things that I learned from you, um, and being a person all of 34 years old, the meaning of the word hop to me meant like, you know, to jump, but I’ve been around long enough to know that, uh, like a sock hop or to hop till you drop or hop around the clock. Like, I know that that means dance, but I was really fascinated to hear the etymology of hip or I believe it started as hep  

It started as hip, but it became hep a little later on. And in fact, the word hip, according to John Leland, who wrote a book called the Hip: the history, uh, he did research suggesting that the word hip those back to Wolof speaking people in West Africa, and that the word hippie means to open one’s eyes, to be aware of something. And the word Hip was popularized in America, at least according to research, around 1800 sort of jumping through some of the time periods, it’s popularity in the forties, when it was spelled with an E you were a hep person, which meant that you were aware of what was going on, and you knew what was in fashion and what clubs were hot, where you go to eat and what band was good. You knew you were hep to what was going on by the sixties. It turns back into an I, so it’s hip. And there’s a sense, again, there’s still a sense of awareness because even when they talk about the hippie community of the sixties, they try to paint them as these like tie dye, free love, get high people, but you’re still talking about people who were conscious enough to fight against the war who, you know, women’s movement was like, let’s burn these bras, like this sense of freedom. Like they knew what was going on in government and politics. They were hip to what was going on. And usually when people are hip to what’s going on, they try to paint them as crazy. In the seventies you still have the word hip, as you were mentioning, hop in America in the 20th century was always synonymous with dance. You know, let’s go to the hop, let’s go to the dance, uh, hop around the clock, meant to dance beyond midnight or dance all night. You know, people of that generation would go to a sock hop where you take off your shoes and your dance and your socks. So hop was to dance. One of the earliest records to sort of have a play on the words, hip and hop was,  

Oh, uh, Delight. Rapper’s delight.  

No, that’s way later. That’s 79.  

Yes. Bring me the knowledge. Yeah,  

That wasn’t until 79. That was, they were really late to the party. There’s another record out. There’s two records. One accidentally puts the two words together. So it’s, uh, uh, Scatman Crothers 1956 or 57 songs, sweet lips where he just happens to he’s, he’s naming these things. He wants, I want to flip flop, hip hop, like, yeah. Rappers are like, they didn’t get it until the seventies. And so it basically means you, everybody can have their interpretation of it. But hip is a word that meant to be aware of, to be knowledgeable of something. And hop was just synonymous with dance. But that is, that’s the etymology of those two words as they are being used. It was Keef Cowboy that actually brought up that phrasing by accident. When a friend of his, I can’t think of his name was going into the armed services and at a party, it was Keef Cowboy that was saying you to, you know, you said something to the effect of like, you know, you’ve been living up tonight because tomorrow going to be hip, hop, hip like that. Right. And so then Lovebug Starski takes it on and then develops it into the phrasing of hip hop. And then, you know, then we find it, we hear the Rapper’s delight, but that’s, I mean, that’s basically, you know what that is. And the fact that the name has that hip hop culture is named Hip hop culture was also purely accidental, uh, based on a 1981 January issue of the East Village Eye , that came out where Michael Holman did an interview with Afrika Bambaataa

 and asking Bam, you know, what the, what this bubbling culture was, but this new thing, the kids were in, Bam didn’t have a definition. So he just started reciting Rapper’s delight and . And it was written. So, and then there it is, but purely accidental. And because it was Afrika Bambaataa

 it, you know, he brought some levity to it, so it stuck. And, um, but that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s it in a nutshell.  

Incredible. I, I love it. And I would love to talk more, but I would really love everybody who’s listening to go find more of you, your lessons, which is way, way deeper than anything. I would say we barely scratched the surface in our conversation today. Um, so can you tell us a little, Oh, I registered for, um, Passionfruit Seeds, which starts in the middle of February. If you’re listening to this on the day of its release, you still have one day to register. I’m going to link to the registration page in the show notes of this episode, but Moncell be a contributing educator at that event, uh, Passionfruit Seeds. But, uh, can you tell us a little bit about intangible roots? When will your next course be the hoping  

I’m developing that now. Well, I’m definitely going to do another summer in July and I’m actually working on a six week course. I don’t know if I’ll be able to introduce the six week course this coming summer, but certainly I’ll do another four classes. So intangible roots will be out, uh, as a course, the summer sessions, there will be, um, um, doing another film screening the last day of this month. Uh, so advertisement will go up on Instagram will go up on Twitter will go up on Facebook  

I will be sure to, uh, share and reshare and include that in special bulletins to all ye as well. Um, Moncell, how do we find more? You were, uh, follow followings and web sightings.  

Well, pretty much everything is my name, Moncell Durden. Uh, my Instagram account is @moncelldurden My clubhouse account is moncelldurden. I, uh, um, Twitter is MoncellDurden. My web page is moncelldurden.com Facebook is the only one that’s different. Facebook is Moncell Illkozby Durden. And, uh, and, um, and I have a new website, intangibleroots.com that I haven’t, I haven’t started developing yet, but you can, things get posted on my website. Things get posted on Instagram. Those you definitely want to check back and forth on those. The, um, the other platform I’m I’m engaged with now is clubhouse. And it’s basically a, it’s basically a open line conversation, you know, it’s all completely audio. You can’t see anybody, they can’t see you. And, um, I started doing, I started a talk last night called black social dances, history, heritage stories, and more, and I’m going to do one every Monday. I do believe I said eight o’clock, which I’m going to have to shift if I did say eight o’clock to nine o’clock because I’m still teaching my lecture course at eight o’clock. Oh yeah. I have to make that change. Um, yeah, people can find me there and, and Instagram, and I might do some film screenings of different documentaries, uh, maybe two a month over the next couple of months to get ready for the summer that I’m trying to, my plan is to speak to the directors of each of the films. So if I can set that up, then that’s the plan. Um, and that those will be free on zoom. And, uh, yeah, just look for me on, look for me on, uh, uh, for my website and the website will always post the next classes for intangible roots.  

Incredible. Well, I will be sure to link to all of those places. Um, and I really do hope that everyone who’s listening continues this deep dive. Uh, there’s, there’s so much to be learned. Um, really appreciate your time. Thank you for being here.  

Thank you for having me. 

My pleasure, my pleasure  

There, you have it. I hope that this episode has inspired you to dig in and dig deeper into your dance history, into your personal history and to the history of whatever craft it is. You are practicing. I hope that you seek more than names and dates as you’re studying. It really is about context. It’s about meaning. It’s about the message. And I am so grateful for Moncell for sharing his message today. Again, all of the links to moncell’s work, his projects, his workshops will be found in the show notes to this episode, and that is it for me. Get out there and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review. Your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: My Friend, My friend, do I have a treat for you today? Oh my gosh. You’re going to want to make sure you have a pen or paper or some sort of writing device today. Or you could just jump straight to clicking that download button because my guest on the pod today is the one and only Moncell Durden. Moncell, wears many, many hats. He’s a dancer, educator, historian, ethnographer, documentary filmmaker, and much, much more. Um, he is a fountain of information and this is information you’re going to want to hold onto. So I’ll let the conversation speak for itself. I’m not going to give too much of a preamble here, but before we dive into the interview, we’re going to share some wins. Yes. If you are an avid listener, you know how important I think it is to celebrate what’s going well. And for the last several episodes, we’ve been doing that at the end of each episode. And you know what I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna put it up front again. So here we are at the top of the episode, and here I go today, I am celebrating the first ever Words that Move Me Community group coaching call. It happened just yesterday. And I must admit I was more than slightly nervous about this call, which I think is normal when you’re doing something that you’re really excited about for the very first time. Um, and, and that was definitely this, but I was met by the most incredibly warm assemblage of bright minds and, and curious creators, um, simply honored to be doing this work with you. So thank you Words that Move Me Community members. I appreciate you. I celebrate you. Um, if you are curious about what that means or how to become a member yourself, check out theDanawilson.com and click on membership thedanawilson.com click on the membership tab. You got that. Okay. That’s me. That’s what’s going well in my world now. It’s your turn.  Yes. Crowd participation. Let’s go. What is going well in your world? 

Phenomenal. Congratulations. Please do  Keep winning. Okay. My friend, I don’t want to wait another second. I am so excited to share the wealth of knowledge. That is my guest Moncell Durden. Enjoy!

Dana: Moncell Durden. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

Moncell: Thank you for having me. 

Dana: Um, all right. It is par for the course. This is how we do it here. Take a moment. Take, take the challenge of introducing yourself. What, what would you like us to know about you?  

Moncell: Well My name is Moncell Durden. I’m from the East coast now residing in California, a dance historian, author, documentarian, researcher, uh, probably a host of other things I can’t think of right now. Um, you know, just started my, the founder of Intangible Roots, which is an educational platform, um, developing programs to help people learn, to build certifications, um, to share knowledge. Um, I’m a professor at University of Southern California, uh, for the Gloria Kaufman International school of dance, been there five years. And, um, yeah, I don’t know. It was a few other things, I guess people will learn along this journey.  

Um, so we have a mutual friend. Her name is Ardyn Flynt. She’s a USC grad and absolutely extraordinary dancer, um, with the kindest heart and a very bright mind. Having a conversation with her, it feels a little like school sometimes, I learned so much every time. Um, but before I heard your name from her, I had actually heard of this documentary called Everything remains Raw. I didn’t know it was you.  Could you tell us a little bit about the doc and what your hopes are for it?  

Sure. Um, the documentary, it speaks to and uncovers the genealogy, of African-American social dances. Uh, it’s something I started in 2003 and continued to work on it. Uh, it’s not just the 90 minute documentary, but it’s my original idea was to have a series. And so I’m trying to find the right supporters and backing to bring this film to light. It’s a ton of research that continues to go on. And, um, it’s an educational tool and I hope, you know, we we’ll, we’ll either get out to the people one way or another, you know, Netflix or some other streaming service or on television or on the big screen. Uh, but the idea is to really talk about the things that are overlooked in dance practice. Uh, so it’s not just about, you know, this time period and, and, and the dances we did, it really speaks to the social, political, economic, environmental, cultural, um, and spiritual space that inform these dance practices. So I really want to provide a context into the why behind the, what  

I love that you said that. And I think that context is probably the most important missing link to all of the education and honestly, a lot of the celebration that we’re doing this month around black history month, I think it’s that context that is the most important thing. So, uh, maybe let’s go back to Ardyn for a second and USC. Uh, so Ardyn speaks highly of you. You are a mentor and a friend, and, um, she talks a lot about what you did for her and for the program at USC. Uh, could you tell us a little bit about what and how you teach there?  

Uh, so I teach, uh, theoretical classes and practical classes. Uh, the theory classes are the three lecture courses. I teach African-American dance. What I refer to as an illustrated history and hip hop, don’t stop exploring black vernacular dance practice. And currently I am teaching, uh, the origins of jazz dance. So those are my three lecture courses. And for the elective students, I teach hip hop dance. For the majors I teach house. So we’re, we’re kind of set up. I think we’re one of the only institutions in America that has six community practitioners from hip hop teaching in one university. It’s sort of unheard of. You might get one, you might luck out to get two, but six. And so, yeah, we have, haven’t worked out where we’re able to focus on different forms under the umbrella, of Hip Hop, you know. The first year students come in and they get a Sebela Grimes movement system called Fundamental metal, metal kinetics refocusing on hip hop movement, but from a social cultural perspective and really giving you fundamentals as sophomore, see me and I teach house and our juniors are taught by Tiffany Bong and she covers whacking and locking and the social dances of the seventies.  And we have Amy O’Neal who works on rhythm structures and composition, uh, Randi Fleckenstine who works on floor movement. 

Shout out Omega Floorwork!

And, uh, she’s a phenomenal B girl, but just a phenomenal dancer. And so she’s doing she’s new and she’s doing amazing work. And then we have Shannon Grayson who also teaches the party dances of hip hop. So it’s a, it’s a nice, you know, some nice cohort of community-based folk in a institutions giving real grass-root lessons than what these forms are. Sometimes… I’d be remised to say that some times, uh, well, this year I’m working with our, uh, theatrical department and teaching authentic jazz to them. So that’s, that’s really cool.  

Uh, that is that’s exquisite.  I’m happy to hear about the USC family. I know a couple of students going into the program, um, and several that are coming up through it and graduating and crushing it in the world. Um, if we could stay on the subject of training for a second, um, I didn’t go to college for dance and I did grow up in a studio setting. And, um, I’m grateful for my studio teaching experience or studio learning experience because I see it as somewhat of a sampler platter, like a little bit of tap a little bit. Well, a lot a bit of ballet at which I did not a lot a bit succeed. Um, a lot of, bit of many styles, which drove me to pack up my Volkswagen bug and moved to LA when I was 18. And I was very fortunate in my timing and placement once I got here, um, because I had a very hard conversation with b-boy Kmel. I remember it like it was yesterday who looked me in my face and laughed and said, you are not a dancer. You are a computer. And I was, you can imagine also his words. He didn’t say it quite like that.  

Oh yeah, I know K 

So in that moment, I was obviously, I felt very exposed I got extremely defensive. 


As you should. 

But around that same time, absolutely. Um, around that same time I was introduced to Toni Basil. I learned everything I know about locking from her. And for a short time I studied with Suga Pop. I learned everything. I learned everything I know about popping from Pete himself. Like I got very lucky in my timing and placement and, and those people gave me an appetite for freestyle in general. Um, but for funk styles in the, in the big picture. And I knew at that time that K was not wrong. Like once those worlds were open to me, I knew he was not wrong. Even in the moment where it was like, you don’t know me, I love dance. I have a heartbeat, I’m a person. But I knew I was like, Oh, damn, there is more to it than this. And I, I did always felt very uncomfortable when I wasn’t being told exactly what to do.  So, um, one of the things that you talk about is how a lot of dance studios and studio environments offer hip hop to stay competitive.  They offer it because they have to, and they find someone who says that they can teach it or has some sort of following. So I wonder, I know that I have some teachers listening and I’m wondering what you would say to them. Um, words of wisdom or inspiration, or maybe a quick slap on the wrist. I don’t know. Oh, leave that up to you. But we have a problem in that people who don’t know are teaching oftentimes and, and how do we solve that problem?  

I’m not sure if I have the answer to how to solve the problem. I definitely give slaps on the wrist.  

Let’s go tough learning. That’s why we’re here. That’s why I’m here.  

You know, they, I have a lot of, so I didn’t, I didn’t go to college and I didn’t grow up in a studio. In fact, I didn’t know people went to studios to learn dance until I was somewhere in my late twenties. Uh, because I grew up in an environment where everyone, I knew danced, whether you were two or 82, they danced, they danced on roller skates. They did the dancers from their generation. You were not special because you could dance because a six year old will embarrass you. And a 50 year old embarrass you and you’re 15.  .It was something that was just done in the community. You know, for most African-American people, um, they learned dance. The studio is the living room, is the backyard is the basement is the party, is at school. That’s where you learn dance. And so studios are a business. And in my opinion, there, they are not about community. They may think they are, but they’re about performing. This is the structure of a studio is to teach people, forms of movement that don’t exist in their environment. Why else would you need to go study? You know, if you grow up, if you’re born in France, you don’t necessarily go to school to study how to speak French. You grew up with it. And it’s just under know, it’s understood in the learning process. You’re surrounded by it. You know, African children do not have to go to school to learn how to undulate their bodies and do their cultural dances. It’s what you see everybody doing. You learn it. But we go to school to learn stuff that is not accessible in our community. It’s not our live practice. Ballet is not a cultural practice that has an environment that supports it like Europe does. And even I would argue even in Europe, because we’re talking about something hundreds of years old, that’s really, truly speaks to a particular time period that has been reinvented by others and approached in different ways. But the thing, it’s a performance it’s not done in a club. You don’t learn ballet to go social dancing. You learn it to hit the proscenium. And that’s where it stays. That’s where it lives and you leave it to fence. And so the idea of social dancing has been something that has been disregarded in this country, dating back to the 1870s, where a lot of movements in different organizations and societies were built. You know, you think of in Chautauqua movement that came out, that was a summer camp that focused on social decorum for young kids through dance. But it wasn’t about the dance. It was about how you’ve used dance to elevate one status in society. It wasn’t so much about the dancing itself or how dancing was used to align people politically, aligned people economically, um, uh, to, you know, create relationships and what have you and the studio they’re not operating in those same ways. A lot of that has been the foundation. If you will. They’ve a Eurocentric approach that is not necessarily about community is about one person standing out that the end goal is to be on stage and to do all these other things. And you know, people are asking me about hip hop in particular, or where do you see hip hop in 50 years? And I was like, I don’t really know where I.. What I do know, is historically I expect young black kids to still be dancing. Now, whether or not they’ve had ever get a job ever be in a movie, ever be on stage, they will still dance. They are not dancing to get to the other side of the room. They are not dancing to be on camera. They’re not dancing for any of that. Cause if none of that stuff existed, they would still create dances. And you think about a community who does it for, uh, and this could be argumentative, but who purely does it for the love of it? And there’s no trajectory, right? I love this dance. I’m going to create new movements because when I was coming up, you had to, if you did a move in the club one week, you better have something different the next week. And so think about kids, kids who go to studios or go to college, spend thousands and thousands of dollars. And it’s like, all right, if you would you train this hard, if you were never going to get paid for it, if you’ve never had the opportunity for a job. Now, maybe that’s an unfair question, but that’s a difference in doing it in the community as just a normal way of expressing your everyday lived experience through movement. It is not about the studio practice. And, um, I think that there’s a disconnect with trying to bring an art form that is not strictly about performance into a space that, that’s what it’s about. That doesn’t, you know, most studios, you know, a lot of know have Marley floors. Well, hip hop is an art form. If you wanted to call it an art form that you don’t dance on marley, you dance on hardwood floors. And so some of these studios are not even set up that way. And then even still, oftentimes if they do happen to have a wooden floor, they might do a performance somewhere that still has Marley. So you’re not truly set. You’re bringing people into an aesthetic without appreciating the aesthetic that the dance and the environment that the dance comes from and how it moves and grooves.  And so I think if studio owners want to have that, they need to understand that technique just means structural alignment. You know, I’m a trained dancer, this phrase like every dancer is a trained dancer. They train in the form that they know that they had, that they love to do. And you know, when you think about ballet and you’re in a studio, learning ballet, you’re learning any, any dance form, a person learns, you are learning a social cultural practice. Ballet speaks to a particular time period. That is based in gestures of that time period is based in hierarchal thinking from a niche community. And this is what the movements are built around. And you have to understand the context of the dance to really move in in the way that, you know, this is, this is, this is the meaning and the message of what you’re doing and all dance forms do that. So if you learn, you know, tap, there’s a social cultural experience that goes with that. If you learn modern, it was a social, cultural experience goes that same with hip hop and it’s understanding. And some of the studios needs to understand that we’re bringing these art forms in. There is proper cultural significance that go with it and you need to have qualified instructors, you know, but the studio also have an issue with, because it’s such, and I don’t mean to harp on it, on studios like this, but it’s such a money game. Cause I used to teach in a lot of studios and you know, you have 21 year olds teach the 15 year olds. The 15 year olds teach the 13 year olds. And the 13 year olds are teaching the seven year olds. Are you kidding me? Parents are paying for 13 year olds to teach their five and seven year olds who are being taught by the 15 and six. Like it’s ridiculous. Um, because you can’t get enough quality teachers to teach those different levels.  

I would imagine, especially if you’re not in a big hub city. 

Right, right. So you have to do like, Oh, well, you know. These two students are really good. They’re the top tier in our studio. So we’re going to have them teach the lower students, the younger students. And that’s such a disservice because you’re, you’re being taught by someone who’s not qualified. Who’s growing, who hasn’t developed the skillset to be at a high level as a teacher, what parents should be paying for, you know, studios know that if they don’t offer it in the studio down the street could. And so I remember in Philadelphia, a lot of studios, I talked to a lot of owners and many of them thought that hip hop was the new name for jazz and I’m talking commercial, jazz, not authentic jazz. And so he just didn’t know. And I I’ve had students at those studios telling me that the owner, the students were asked to teach a hip hop class and the would, well, I don’t do hip hop. And then only the studio would say, well, this dude watch this video and do what they do. So there’s no, you wouldn’t do that with a ballet class.  

Right. Watch this video and do what they do, yea.

But it shows you how little they think of a dance. They think it’s, you know, it, it has no structure. They think it has no form and has no vocabulary and technique. And this is what they need to know. We think as my boy would say, recognized, not just recognized. You know, uh, and that’s, you know, that’s the biggest, I think, struggle that studios have, it’s trying to work in this model that has been passed down for performative sense versus something that is based on social engagement. And the two have not had a smooth transition and have coexisted.  

I think if we are to make a dance analogy on the subject of transitions, I think the first essential piece of a successful and smooth transition is simply the awareness. I’m aware of my shoulders and my pelvis in this position, in this place. And I know they need to go over here and I hope that this episode helps a little bit at very least with that awareness. I, I can’t tell you exactly how to transfer the weight. Um, I don’t have the steps in between, but I, I can hope. And thank you, Moncell, for offering this like moment of awareness.  Uh in your writing and one of the pieces that I read while I was in your course intangible roots, um, you, you explain hip hop as a vernacular form, which really just means that it’s indigenous to a particular community and lifestyle. And when we remember that, we remember how much comes along with that. And I think that a lot of people are quicker, faster, more confident to jump to teaching hip hop in general than we are to teaching, you know, this Sudanese dance or this, this Greek dance or something like that. But that’s really what hip hop is. It really is all of that. It has techniques, foundations, pioneers, important people and dates and histories and vocabularies that really are to be regarded, revered at very least re recognized. Uh, um, so thank you for that. Um, if, if maybe that’s a good segue, actually, while we’re talking about meanings and messages and the breadth of everything that comes along with hip hop, I do want to talk about your course intangible roots. It was a highlight of my 2020, which albeit, uh, that bar was set pretty low 2020 had some tough, tough times, but I so valued my time in that chair, watching, listening, reading, writing. Um, so I want to talk a little bit about that. Uh, we talked about like some of the outstanding things, especially for me, a person who works a lot in the entertainment industry was when you spoke about film and TV and the stereotypes of African-American characters, like the Mammy, the Uncle, the Sambo, I was like, Whoa. And as you were showing these clips from commercials and TV shows and cartoons, it was non-stop bombardment. And that, that shook me to my core. Um, I learned how to more responsibly digest dance media, like little class clips or, or big film dance sequences. So that was super valuable. But I think the, the most new information to me, and maybe the most moving as well was this, um, the concept of the circle, the cipher. Um, so could you talk a little bit about, um, ring shouts and this symbolism of the circle?  

Well, ring shouts, as they, as has been suggested was America’s first choreography. And Ralph Ellison said that. And what it was was a way for enslaved people to cultivate community, to cultivate space for their spiritual practice. 

Because they weren’t allowed to practice their religion.  

They weren’t allowed to practice their religion. They were being taught a different religion, but they had the wherewithal to, to recognize that the religion that was being passed on or forced upon them was similar in what their belief system was. We just had different languages and different ideas. So through the journals it mentioned how they likened your practice to a Christian. Christian Saint was, you know, similar to the Yoruba deity. And they say they sort of undergird their practice, um, beneath this Christianity and gave the appearance of performing Christian belief practices all the while they’re doing their thing. And so it also, it’s something that gave way to at the time, what you would have referred to as Negro spirituals, which later we know as gospel the combining of European hymns, which had no words to these enslaved African people humming these, uh, these tunes, these hymns, but adding words to it based off of their agrarian practice, based off of their lived experience at a time and creates the stories that go with gospel early gospel songs and the ring shout, being something that coming out of your book, traditions of a cosmogram and there are many different shapes of a cosmogram and the very basic one, having a cross with a circle around it with a cross in the center of the circle and at the end of each line of the cross there’s smaller circles, which represent the sun and the trajectory that the sun, the perception that the sun moves. The perception that the sun moves, counter-clockwise I say perception because a know lot of the sun doesn’t move. No one on this planet has ever seen a sunset or sunrise. That’s just language that we use, but the sun doesn’t move. So it can’t rise or set. Uh, the you’re actually witnessing, we are actually witnessing the rotation of the earth, but nobody’s going to say they went to the beach to watch the rotation of the earth. 

It doesn’t have the same ring to it. Yeah.  

Right. Not at all. But the ring shot is built on this idea of having a verticality coming from spirituality, going into human existence, the horizontal plane, which separates those two, those two planes and the top sun representing high noon, which is male energy. And the bottom sun representing midnight, which is female energy and the circle representing the water. And the very centerpiece, the crossroad is Elegba by, uh, I’m horrible at spelling E – L- L- E- G- B- A (ELEGBA *only one L) believe I might have that wrong.  

Well, you might have it wrong, but I have a diagram that I can refer to. And I will definitely put a diagram of this in the show notes for everybody who’s listening and struggling to imagine. Um, I will absolutely add an image, uh, but carry on.  

And so, you know, this, if you think about Haitian, uh, Voodoo or Vodou um, was it not really the term that was used back then, but it’s what we bought. We connect and this practice was being done there in Haiti, it is, you know, the center post is a space where it allows the spirit to come in and Elegba is a trickster. Um, know, you know, what is it’s false or real. And, but then there’s the lwa, which is the spirit that mounts the body, as they were saying, you say mount to body, because it relates to a forest, uh, a horse with a rider that the rider mounts a horse. So when you say that the low owl has mounted a person, it, the spirit that is connected to him, but we speak of that in Pentecostal or Baptist churches, you speak of that are being touched by the Holy spirit or catching the Holy ghost. You know, you have this kind of language. In hip hop, you might say something like, you know, you blacked out or you went down or you’re going off is basically the space that a spirit enters into your existence and sort of takes over the movement that you’re doing, where you don’t even realize what you just did. Um, the circle in the Cosmogram also represents the perimeter of the circle and dance. And then that crossroads and the center is that person that is in the center. And that in the energy that can come from that, the circularity of the people in the perimeter feeding you in the center energy is where, and, and the guidance of the music is where you reach a devined spirit, or you can reach the Devine spirit, which was the whole purpose of this as a spiritual practice in the first place, was that the drum, a Mambo, which was a priest or priestess, but knowing that the Mambo where the spiritual guides to connect to that, to that other world, right? And it is believed that it is through the water, that the spirit can enter into our human existence hence the separation, um, babies being born through fluid, and the idea of humans being spiritual beings, having a human existence, not human beings, having a spiritual existence, this all plays into that concept. And the circle is a representation of that cosmogram right. That spiritual drawing. And it does the exact same thing. It, it creates that space that allows one to celebrate their individuality while also being attached to the community and the two feed each other, you know, you, you are part of the community, but we still acknowledge your individuality. So you might be in the center. And at some point you come out and someone else goes into the center and they are celebrated. There’s also a space of protection where you can see everybody’s back and you can warn them of any danger. So again, it’s that, it’s that way connected to a ring shot, where it is a it’s a coming together of a community to cultivate a safe space for them to practice their spirituality. And in dance’s case, it’s the, it’s the spiritual connection to the divine through movement and music is it’s doing the same thing. It’s just not perceived in the same manner, but it is the two things are one, one comes from the other. 

This is exactly why context is important, because if you are taught to jump in a circle as a, as a 13 year old in a hip hop class somewhere, which I admit I am fully guilty of this, I thought I was doing right by having your freestyle circle at the end of every class. But without any context at all, that circle doesn’t feel like a safe or spiritual place. It feels like 360 degrees of eyeballs judging you. And I think without the context of what that space can be, what it was created in, or, or intended loosely, I’ll say, uh, what it was created to be is something entirely different. I’m so glad I learned eventually what that is, um, and, and learn this concept and show and prove and became a person who is as comfortable in a circle as I am on a stage doing, you know, predetermined moves at predetermined rhythms. Um, but I think that in addition to this like deeper understanding of the symbolism of the circle, also one of the other things that helped me thrive in a circle, or like just exist there without feeling like I was going to implode on myself was, uh, becoming more familiar with party dances, learning enough social dances, that I had a good enough vocabulary to actually deconstruct things. And then reconstruct things. Like I don’t, I don’t know if somebody would be able to identify that I’m doing, uh, a Smurff or a Robocop because it’s that far deconstruct, it’s something else now, but without those dances,  existing in that space was really uncomfortable for me. So I thank these party dances, um, uh, for a lot of my evolution is dancer . And I do want to talk about party dances for a second because, Oh, by the way, I say party dances. And I, I suppose that’s just how many of these dances were introduced to me. Is there a right or wrong social dances versus party dances? If I’m talking about the cabbage patch or the Biz Markie or, uh, the Prep or the Reebok or those social dances or party dancers.   

No, that language is interchangeable. Um, it’s all mean the same thing. I mean, the dance is whatever the name of the dance is, and it was something done at a party, which is a social event. There’s no right or wrong.  

That’s good to know. I’m glad I asked because there are a few, um, areas of insecurity that I have. I have definitely been a person, you know, before I moved to LA in my early days, who would call somebody a break dancer… when people have asked me if I’m a Hip Hopper, I have said yes… And so I’m catching different ways where language can be terribly, terribly misused. Um, and I was wondering if that might be one of those. Okay. So social dance/party dance, thank you all the dances. But, um, what I, what I’m curious about is this quarantine moment that we’re in all the distance, which honestly, except for maybe the Kid in Play, I can’t think of, uh, of, of a party dance in my vocabulary that requires like a handhold on another person. If we go further back and we start looking at Lindy, Charleston, swing, things like that, very close proximity, like a super close embrace, but we got far apart for awhile. And my guess my romantic hope is that post quarantine or post vaccine, post Corona virus that we’ll come back together and that hands hands will touch again. And we’ll be dancing together again. That’s my secret hope, I guess. Um, other than that, there will be dancing, which you mentioned there will certainly be dancing. Do you have any ideas on the social dances or the people that are on the front line of creating them? 

Those are young people, you know, 8, 9, 10, 15, who are not concerned with holding anybody else’s hand, you know, and it’s understanding the, the, the shift in what partner dancing has become to a degree. Though. Um, Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, has she doesn’t consider partner dancing if you don’t touch. And I sort of disagree with that. I understand where she’s coming from, but you know, Lindy touching your partner, uh, any of the bop, it tango, the Philly Bop, uh, DC hand dance in Chicago stepping, the hustle, touching a partner that does not take away. The fact that me and another person doing the twist, our partner dancing, even though we’re not touching, like we are fully engaged with one another but not touch them. Hip hop was the same thing. If you dance with someone, if they’re doing the wop, you’re doing the wop, you are connected, you are it’s wireless transmission. As my boys would, say, you pick up on what they’re doing and you join in. It’s a call & response. Um, that gets that going, but then there’s a togetherness. So even though, you know, you’re not touching, you’re still dancing with someone.  

I love that argument. And that argument gives me hope for the rest of my lockdown.  

Yeah. So, I mean, you know, hustle made a huge resurgence, everybody’s doing the hustle. So I’m sure the hustle community is definitely going to be out there. People are going to be taking partner dances and salsa and everything else that’ll definitely grow. Um, and then people will be, even though they’re not touching communities of dances, we’ll be looking forward to going back to the parties and being collectively together, hearing the same music, sharing the same vibe, doing the same. So it’s, it’s just, you know what you want to focus this on. I would not focus on the fact that they’re not touching, but they are together. And, you know, if you really want to get philosophical, everybody’s touching through the air in the first place. If there’s air, we are touching  

Lets go! On the particle level.  

When people talk about the senses of the body, they talk about, they get to touch, right. You know, smell, hear, see they get to touch, but I’m like, if you, if you’re standing outside and the wind blows, you feel it, but nothing touched you. So you got to expand your idea of what the senses are. What touch actually is.  

I, I really do think that togetherness is… starts here (in the mind). And so we can dance here on a zoom call and have a sense of togetherness, uh, without touching. Thank you for reminding me of that. Um, okay. I don’t wanna, um, bamboozle your time this evening, but I do, I forgot to ask one thing right at the top. So maybe we’ll end with, with sort of the beginning, I would love to share a little bit of the etymology of the words, hip hop. It’s one of my favorite things that I learned from you, um, and being a person all of 34 years old, the meaning of the word hop to me meant like, you know, to jump, but I’ve been around long enough to know that, uh, like a sock hop or to hop till you drop or hop around the clock. Like, I know that that means dance, but I was really fascinated to hear the etymology of hip or I believe it started as hep  

It started as hip, but it became hep a little later on. And in fact, the word hip, according to John Leland, who wrote a book called the Hip: the history, uh, he did research suggesting that the word hip those back to Wolof speaking people in West Africa, and that the word hippie means to open one’s eyes, to be aware of something. And the word Hip was popularized in America, at least according to research, around 1800 sort of jumping through some of the time periods, it’s popularity in the forties, when it was spelled with an E you were a hep person, which meant that you were aware of what was going on, and you knew what was in fashion and what clubs were hot, where you go to eat and what band was good. You knew you were hep to what was going on by the sixties. It turns back into an I, so it’s hip. And there’s a sense, again, there’s still a sense of awareness because even when they talk about the hippie community of the sixties, they try to paint them as these like tie dye, free love, get high people, but you’re still talking about people who were conscious enough to fight against the war who, you know, women’s movement was like, let’s burn these bras, like this sense of freedom. Like they knew what was going on in government and politics. They were hip to what was going on. And usually when people are hip to what’s going on, they try to paint them as crazy. In the seventies you still have the word hip, as you were mentioning, hop in America in the 20th century was always synonymous with dance. You know, let’s go to the hop, let’s go to the dance, uh, hop around the clock, meant to dance beyond midnight or dance all night. You know, people of that generation would go to a sock hop where you take off your shoes and your dance and your socks. So hop was to dance. One of the earliest records to sort of have a play on the words, hip and hop was,  

Oh, uh, Delight. Rapper’s delight.  

No, that’s way later. That’s 79.  

Yes. Bring me the knowledge. Yeah,  

That wasn’t until 79. That was, they were really late to the party. There’s another record out. There’s two records. One accidentally puts the two words together. So it’s, uh, uh, Scatman Crothers 1956 or 57 songs, sweet lips where he just happens to he’s, he’s naming these things. He wants, I want to flip flop, hip hop, like, yeah. Rappers are like, they didn’t get it until the seventies. And so it basically means you, everybody can have their interpretation of it. But hip is a word that meant to be aware of, to be knowledgeable of something. And hop was just synonymous with dance. But that is, that’s the etymology of those two words as they are being used. It was Keef Cowboy that actually brought up that phrasing by accident. When a friend of his, I can’t think of his name was going into the armed services and at a party, it was Keef Cowboy that was saying you to, you know, you said something to the effect of like, you know, you’ve been living up tonight because tomorrow going to be hip, hop, hip like that. Right. And so then Lovebug Starski takes it on and then develops it into the phrasing of hip hop. And then, you know, then we find it, we hear the Rapper’s delight, but that’s, I mean, that’s basically, you know what that is. And the fact that the name has that hip hop culture is named Hip hop culture was also purely accidental, uh, based on a 1981 January issue of the East Village Eye , that came out where Michael Holman did an interview with Afrika Bambaataa

 and asking Bam, you know, what the, what this bubbling culture was, but this new thing, the kids were in, Bam didn’t have a definition. So he just started reciting Rapper’s delight and . And it was written. So, and then there it is, but purely accidental. And because it was Afrika Bambaataa

 it, you know, he brought some levity to it, so it stuck. And, um, but that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s it in a nutshell.  

Incredible. I, I love it. And I would love to talk more, but I would really love everybody who’s listening to go find more of you, your lessons, which is way, way deeper than anything. I would say we barely scratched the surface in our conversation today. Um, so can you tell us a little, Oh, I registered for, um, Passionfruit Seeds, which starts in the middle of February. If you’re listening to this on the day of its release, you still have one day to register. I’m going to link to the registration page in the show notes of this episode, but Moncell be a contributing educator at that event, uh, Passionfruit Seeds. But, uh, can you tell us a little bit about intangible roots? When will your next course be the hoping  

I’m developing that now. Well, I’m definitely going to do another summer in July and I’m actually working on a six week course. I don’t know if I’ll be able to introduce the six week course this coming summer, but certainly I’ll do another four classes. So intangible roots will be out, uh, as a course, the summer sessions, there will be, um, um, doing another film screening the last day of this month. Uh, so advertisement will go up on Instagram will go up on Twitter will go up on Facebook  

I will be sure to, uh, share and reshare and include that in special bulletins to all ye as well. Um, Moncell, how do we find more? You were, uh, follow followings and web sightings.  

Well, pretty much everything is my name, Moncell Durden. Uh, my Instagram account is @moncelldurden My clubhouse account is moncelldurden. I, uh, um, Twitter is MoncellDurden. My web page is moncelldurden.com Facebook is the only one that’s different. Facebook is Moncell Illkozby Durden. And, uh, and, um, and I have a new website, intangibleroots.com that I haven’t, I haven’t started developing yet, but you can, things get posted on my website. Things get posted on Instagram. Those you definitely want to check back and forth on those. The, um, the other platform I’m I’m engaged with now is clubhouse. And it’s basically a, it’s basically a open line conversation, you know, it’s all completely audio. You can’t see anybody, they can’t see you. And, um, I started doing, I started a talk last night called black social dances, history, heritage stories, and more, and I’m going to do one every Monday. I do believe I said eight o’clock, which I’m going to have to shift if I did say eight o’clock to nine o’clock because I’m still teaching my lecture course at eight o’clock. Oh yeah. I have to make that change. Um, yeah, people can find me there and, and Instagram, and I might do some film screenings of different documentaries, uh, maybe two a month over the next couple of months to get ready for the summer that I’m trying to, my plan is to speak to the directors of each of the films. So if I can set that up, then that’s the plan. Um, and that those will be free on zoom. And, uh, yeah, just look for me on, look for me on, uh, uh, for my website and the website will always post the next classes for intangible roots.  

Incredible. Well, I will be sure to link to all of those places. Um, and I really do hope that everyone who’s listening continues this deep dive. Uh, there’s, there’s so much to be learned. Um, really appreciate your time. Thank you for being here.  

Thank you for having me. 

My pleasure, my pleasure  

There, you have it. I hope that this episode has inspired you to dig in and dig deeper into your dance history, into your personal history and to the history of whatever craft it is. You are practicing. I hope that you seek more than names and dates as you’re studying. It really is about context. It’s about meaning. It’s about the message. And I am so grateful for Moncell for sharing his message today. Again, all of the links to moncell’s work, his projects, his workshops will be found in the show notes to this episode, and that is it for me. Get out there and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review. Your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: My Friend, My friend, do I have a treat for you today? Oh my gosh. You’re going to want to make sure you have a pen or paper or some sort of writing device today. Or you could just jump straight to clicking that download button because my guest on the pod today is the one and only Moncell Durden. Moncell, wears many, many hats. He’s a dancer, educator, historian, ethnographer, documentary filmmaker, and much, much more. Um, he is a fountain of information and this is information you’re going to want to hold onto. So I’ll let the conversation speak for itself. I’m not going to give too much of a preamble here, but before we dive into the interview, we’re going to share some wins. Yes. If you are an avid listener, you know how important I think it is to celebrate what’s going well. And for the last several episodes, we’ve been doing that at the end of each episode. And you know what I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna put it up front again. So here we are at the top of the episode, and here I go today, I am celebrating the first ever Words that Move Me Community group coaching call. It happened just yesterday. And I must admit I was more than slightly nervous about this call, which I think is normal when you’re doing something that you’re really excited about for the very first time. Um, and, and that was definitely this, but I was met by the most incredibly warm assemblage of bright minds and, and curious creators, um, simply honored to be doing this work with you. So thank you Words that Move Me Community members. I appreciate you. I celebrate you. Um, if you are curious about what that means or how to become a member yourself, check out theDanawilson.com and click on membership thedanawilson.com click on the membership tab. You got that. Okay. That’s me. That’s what’s going well in my world now. It’s your turn.  Yes. Crowd participation. Let’s go. What is going well in your world? 

Phenomenal. Congratulations. Please do  Keep winning. Okay. My friend, I don’t want to wait another second. I am so excited to share the wealth of knowledge. That is my guest Moncell Durden. Enjoy!

Dana: Moncell Durden. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

Moncell: Thank you for having me. 

Dana: Um, all right. It is par for the course. This is how we do it here. Take a moment. Take, take the challenge of introducing yourself. What, what would you like us to know about you?  

Moncell: Well My name is Moncell Durden. I’m from the East coast now residing in California, a dance historian, author, documentarian, researcher, uh, probably a host of other things I can’t think of right now. Um, you know, just started my, the founder of Intangible Roots, which is an educational platform, um, developing programs to help people learn, to build certifications, um, to share knowledge. Um, I’m a professor at University of Southern California, uh, for the Gloria Kaufman International school of dance, been there five years. And, um, yeah, I don’t know. It was a few other things, I guess people will learn along this journey.  

Um, so we have a mutual friend. Her name is Ardyn Flynt. She’s a USC grad and absolutely extraordinary dancer, um, with the kindest heart and a very bright mind. Having a conversation with her, it feels a little like school sometimes, I learned so much every time. Um, but before I heard your name from her, I had actually heard of this documentary called Everything remains Raw. I didn’t know it was you.  Could you tell us a little bit about the doc and what your hopes are for it?  

Sure. Um, the documentary, it speaks to and uncovers the genealogy, of African-American social dances. Uh, it’s something I started in 2003 and continued to work on it. Uh, it’s not just the 90 minute documentary, but it’s my original idea was to have a series. And so I’m trying to find the right supporters and backing to bring this film to light. It’s a ton of research that continues to go on. And, um, it’s an educational tool and I hope, you know, we we’ll, we’ll either get out to the people one way or another, you know, Netflix or some other streaming service or on television or on the big screen. Uh, but the idea is to really talk about the things that are overlooked in dance practice. Uh, so it’s not just about, you know, this time period and, and, and the dances we did, it really speaks to the social, political, economic, environmental, cultural, um, and spiritual space that inform these dance practices. So I really want to provide a context into the why behind the, what  

I love that you said that. And I think that context is probably the most important missing link to all of the education and honestly, a lot of the celebration that we’re doing this month around black history month, I think it’s that context that is the most important thing. So, uh, maybe let’s go back to Ardyn for a second and USC. Uh, so Ardyn speaks highly of you. You are a mentor and a friend, and, um, she talks a lot about what you did for her and for the program at USC. Uh, could you tell us a little bit about what and how you teach there?  

Uh, so I teach, uh, theoretical classes and practical classes. Uh, the theory classes are the three lecture courses. I teach African-American dance. What I refer to as an illustrated history and hip hop, don’t stop exploring black vernacular dance practice. And currently I am teaching, uh, the origins of jazz dance. So those are my three lecture courses. And for the elective students, I teach hip hop dance. For the majors I teach house. So we’re, we’re kind of set up. I think we’re one of the only institutions in America that has six community practitioners from hip hop teaching in one university. It’s sort of unheard of. You might get one, you might luck out to get two, but six. And so, yeah, we have, haven’t worked out where we’re able to focus on different forms under the umbrella, of Hip Hop, you know. The first year students come in and they get a Sebela Grimes movement system called Fundamental metal, metal kinetics refocusing on hip hop movement, but from a social cultural perspective and really giving you fundamentals as sophomore, see me and I teach house and our juniors are taught by Tiffany Bong and she covers whacking and locking and the social dances of the seventies.  And we have Amy O’Neal who works on rhythm structures and composition, uh, Randi Fleckenstine who works on floor movement. 

Shout out Omega Floorwork!

And, uh, she’s a phenomenal B girl, but just a phenomenal dancer. And so she’s doing she’s new and she’s doing amazing work. And then we have Shannon Grayson who also teaches the party dances of hip hop. So it’s a, it’s a nice, you know, some nice cohort of community-based folk in a institutions giving real grass-root lessons than what these forms are. Sometimes… I’d be remised to say that some times, uh, well, this year I’m working with our, uh, theatrical department and teaching authentic jazz to them. So that’s, that’s really cool.  

Uh, that is that’s exquisite.  I’m happy to hear about the USC family. I know a couple of students going into the program, um, and several that are coming up through it and graduating and crushing it in the world. Um, if we could stay on the subject of training for a second, um, I didn’t go to college for dance and I did grow up in a studio setting. And, um, I’m grateful for my studio teaching experience or studio learning experience because I see it as somewhat of a sampler platter, like a little bit of tap a little bit. Well, a lot a bit of ballet at which I did not a lot a bit succeed. Um, a lot of, bit of many styles, which drove me to pack up my Volkswagen bug and moved to LA when I was 18. And I was very fortunate in my timing and placement once I got here, um, because I had a very hard conversation with b-boy Kmel. I remember it like it was yesterday who looked me in my face and laughed and said, you are not a dancer. You are a computer. And I was, you can imagine also his words. He didn’t say it quite like that.  

Oh yeah, I know K 

So in that moment, I was obviously, I felt very exposed I got extremely defensive. 


As you should. 

But around that same time, absolutely. Um, around that same time I was introduced to Toni Basil. I learned everything I know about locking from her. And for a short time I studied with Suga Pop. I learned everything. I learned everything I know about popping from Pete himself. Like I got very lucky in my timing and placement and, and those people gave me an appetite for freestyle in general. Um, but for funk styles in the, in the big picture. And I knew at that time that K was not wrong. Like once those worlds were open to me, I knew he was not wrong. Even in the moment where it was like, you don’t know me, I love dance. I have a heartbeat, I’m a person. But I knew I was like, Oh, damn, there is more to it than this. And I, I did always felt very uncomfortable when I wasn’t being told exactly what to do.  So, um, one of the things that you talk about is how a lot of dance studios and studio environments offer hip hop to stay competitive.  They offer it because they have to, and they find someone who says that they can teach it or has some sort of following. So I wonder, I know that I have some teachers listening and I’m wondering what you would say to them. Um, words of wisdom or inspiration, or maybe a quick slap on the wrist. I don’t know. Oh, leave that up to you. But we have a problem in that people who don’t know are teaching oftentimes and, and how do we solve that problem?  

I’m not sure if I have the answer to how to solve the problem. I definitely give slaps on the wrist.  

Let’s go tough learning. That’s why we’re here. That’s why I’m here.  

You know, they, I have a lot of, so I didn’t, I didn’t go to college and I didn’t grow up in a studio. In fact, I didn’t know people went to studios to learn dance until I was somewhere in my late twenties. Uh, because I grew up in an environment where everyone, I knew danced, whether you were two or 82, they danced, they danced on roller skates. They did the dancers from their generation. You were not special because you could dance because a six year old will embarrass you. And a 50 year old embarrass you and you’re 15.  .It was something that was just done in the community. You know, for most African-American people, um, they learned dance. The studio is the living room, is the backyard is the basement is the party, is at school. That’s where you learn dance. And so studios are a business. And in my opinion, there, they are not about community. They may think they are, but they’re about performing. This is the structure of a studio is to teach people, forms of movement that don’t exist in their environment. Why else would you need to go study? You know, if you grow up, if you’re born in France, you don’t necessarily go to school to study how to speak French. You grew up with it. And it’s just under know, it’s understood in the learning process. You’re surrounded by it. You know, African children do not have to go to school to learn how to undulate their bodies and do their cultural dances. It’s what you see everybody doing. You learn it. But we go to school to learn stuff that is not accessible in our community. It’s not our live practice. Ballet is not a cultural practice that has an environment that supports it like Europe does. And even I would argue even in Europe, because we’re talking about something hundreds of years old, that’s really, truly speaks to a particular time period that has been reinvented by others and approached in different ways. But the thing, it’s a performance it’s not done in a club. You don’t learn ballet to go social dancing. You learn it to hit the proscenium. And that’s where it stays. That’s where it lives and you leave it to fence. And so the idea of social dancing has been something that has been disregarded in this country, dating back to the 1870s, where a lot of movements in different organizations and societies were built. You know, you think of in Chautauqua movement that came out, that was a summer camp that focused on social decorum for young kids through dance. But it wasn’t about the dance. It was about how you’ve used dance to elevate one status in society. It wasn’t so much about the dancing itself or how dancing was used to align people politically, aligned people economically, um, uh, to, you know, create relationships and what have you and the studio they’re not operating in those same ways. A lot of that has been the foundation. If you will. They’ve a Eurocentric approach that is not necessarily about community is about one person standing out that the end goal is to be on stage and to do all these other things. And you know, people are asking me about hip hop in particular, or where do you see hip hop in 50 years? And I was like, I don’t really know where I.. What I do know, is historically I expect young black kids to still be dancing. Now, whether or not they’ve had ever get a job ever be in a movie, ever be on stage, they will still dance. They are not dancing to get to the other side of the room. They are not dancing to be on camera. They’re not dancing for any of that. Cause if none of that stuff existed, they would still create dances. And you think about a community who does it for, uh, and this could be argumentative, but who purely does it for the love of it? And there’s no trajectory, right? I love this dance. I’m going to create new movements because when I was coming up, you had to, if you did a move in the club one week, you better have something different the next week. And so think about kids, kids who go to studios or go to college, spend thousands and thousands of dollars. And it’s like, all right, if you would you train this hard, if you were never going to get paid for it, if you’ve never had the opportunity for a job. Now, maybe that’s an unfair question, but that’s a difference in doing it in the community as just a normal way of expressing your everyday lived experience through movement. It is not about the studio practice. And, um, I think that there’s a disconnect with trying to bring an art form that is not strictly about performance into a space that, that’s what it’s about. That doesn’t, you know, most studios, you know, a lot of know have Marley floors. Well, hip hop is an art form. If you wanted to call it an art form that you don’t dance on marley, you dance on hardwood floors. And so some of these studios are not even set up that way. And then even still, oftentimes if they do happen to have a wooden floor, they might do a performance somewhere that still has Marley. So you’re not truly set. You’re bringing people into an aesthetic without appreciating the aesthetic that the dance and the environment that the dance comes from and how it moves and grooves.  And so I think if studio owners want to have that, they need to understand that technique just means structural alignment. You know, I’m a trained dancer, this phrase like every dancer is a trained dancer. They train in the form that they know that they had, that they love to do. And you know, when you think about ballet and you’re in a studio, learning ballet, you’re learning any, any dance form, a person learns, you are learning a social cultural practice. Ballet speaks to a particular time period. That is based in gestures of that time period is based in hierarchal thinking from a niche community. And this is what the movements are built around. And you have to understand the context of the dance to really move in in the way that, you know, this is, this is, this is the meaning and the message of what you’re doing and all dance forms do that. So if you learn, you know, tap, there’s a social cultural experience that goes with that. If you learn modern, it was a social, cultural experience goes that same with hip hop and it’s understanding. And some of the studios needs to understand that we’re bringing these art forms in. There is proper cultural significance that go with it and you need to have qualified instructors, you know, but the studio also have an issue with, because it’s such, and I don’t mean to harp on it, on studios like this, but it’s such a money game. Cause I used to teach in a lot of studios and you know, you have 21 year olds teach the 15 year olds. The 15 year olds teach the 13 year olds. And the 13 year olds are teaching the seven year olds. Are you kidding me? Parents are paying for 13 year olds to teach their five and seven year olds who are being taught by the 15 and six. Like it’s ridiculous. Um, because you can’t get enough quality teachers to teach those different levels.  

I would imagine, especially if you’re not in a big hub city. 

Right, right. So you have to do like, Oh, well, you know. These two students are really good. They’re the top tier in our studio. So we’re going to have them teach the lower students, the younger students. And that’s such a disservice because you’re, you’re being taught by someone who’s not qualified. Who’s growing, who hasn’t developed the skillset to be at a high level as a teacher, what parents should be paying for, you know, studios know that if they don’t offer it in the studio down the street could. And so I remember in Philadelphia, a lot of studios, I talked to a lot of owners and many of them thought that hip hop was the new name for jazz and I’m talking commercial, jazz, not authentic jazz. And so he just didn’t know. And I I’ve had students at those studios telling me that the owner, the students were asked to teach a hip hop class and the would, well, I don’t do hip hop. And then only the studio would say, well, this dude watch this video and do what they do. So there’s no, you wouldn’t do that with a ballet class.  

Right. Watch this video and do what they do, yea.

But it shows you how little they think of a dance. They think it’s, you know, it, it has no structure. They think it has no form and has no vocabulary and technique. And this is what they need to know. We think as my boy would say, recognized, not just recognized. You know, uh, and that’s, you know, that’s the biggest, I think, struggle that studios have, it’s trying to work in this model that has been passed down for performative sense versus something that is based on social engagement. And the two have not had a smooth transition and have coexisted.  

I think if we are to make a dance analogy on the subject of transitions, I think the first essential piece of a successful and smooth transition is simply the awareness. I’m aware of my shoulders and my pelvis in this position, in this place. And I know they need to go over here and I hope that this episode helps a little bit at very least with that awareness. I, I can’t tell you exactly how to transfer the weight. Um, I don’t have the steps in between, but I, I can hope. And thank you, Moncell, for offering this like moment of awareness.  Uh in your writing and one of the pieces that I read while I was in your course intangible roots, um, you, you explain hip hop as a vernacular form, which really just means that it’s indigenous to a particular community and lifestyle. And when we remember that, we remember how much comes along with that. And I think that a lot of people are quicker, faster, more confident to jump to teaching hip hop in general than we are to teaching, you know, this Sudanese dance or this, this Greek dance or something like that. But that’s really what hip hop is. It really is all of that. It has techniques, foundations, pioneers, important people and dates and histories and vocabularies that really are to be regarded, revered at very least re recognized. Uh, um, so thank you for that. Um, if, if maybe that’s a good segue, actually, while we’re talking about meanings and messages and the breadth of everything that comes along with hip hop, I do want to talk about your course intangible roots. It was a highlight of my 2020, which albeit, uh, that bar was set pretty low 2020 had some tough, tough times, but I so valued my time in that chair, watching, listening, reading, writing. Um, so I want to talk a little bit about that. Uh, we talked about like some of the outstanding things, especially for me, a person who works a lot in the entertainment industry was when you spoke about film and TV and the stereotypes of African-American characters, like the Mammy, the Uncle, the Sambo, I was like, Whoa. And as you were showing these clips from commercials and TV shows and cartoons, it was non-stop bombardment. And that, that shook me to my core. Um, I learned how to more responsibly digest dance media, like little class clips or, or big film dance sequences. So that was super valuable. But I think the, the most new information to me, and maybe the most moving as well was this, um, the concept of the circle, the cipher. Um, so could you talk a little bit about, um, ring shouts and this symbolism of the circle?  

Well, ring shouts, as they, as has been suggested was America’s first choreography. And Ralph Ellison said that. And what it was was a way for enslaved people to cultivate community, to cultivate space for their spiritual practice. 

Because they weren’t allowed to practice their religion.  

They weren’t allowed to practice their religion. They were being taught a different religion, but they had the wherewithal to, to recognize that the religion that was being passed on or forced upon them was similar in what their belief system was. We just had different languages and different ideas. So through the journals it mentioned how they likened your practice to a Christian. Christian Saint was, you know, similar to the Yoruba deity. And they say they sort of undergird their practice, um, beneath this Christianity and gave the appearance of performing Christian belief practices all the while they’re doing their thing. And so it also, it’s something that gave way to at the time, what you would have referred to as Negro spirituals, which later we know as gospel the combining of European hymns, which had no words to these enslaved African people humming these, uh, these tunes, these hymns, but adding words to it based off of their agrarian practice, based off of their lived experience at a time and creates the stories that go with gospel early gospel songs and the ring shout, being something that coming out of your book, traditions of a cosmogram and there are many different shapes of a cosmogram and the very basic one, having a cross with a circle around it with a cross in the center of the circle and at the end of each line of the cross there’s smaller circles, which represent the sun and the trajectory that the sun, the perception that the sun moves. The perception that the sun moves, counter-clockwise I say perception because a know lot of the sun doesn’t move. No one on this planet has ever seen a sunset or sunrise. That’s just language that we use, but the sun doesn’t move. So it can’t rise or set. Uh, the you’re actually witnessing, we are actually witnessing the rotation of the earth, but nobody’s going to say they went to the beach to watch the rotation of the earth. 

It doesn’t have the same ring to it. Yeah.  

Right. Not at all. But the ring shot is built on this idea of having a verticality coming from spirituality, going into human existence, the horizontal plane, which separates those two, those two planes and the top sun representing high noon, which is male energy. And the bottom sun representing midnight, which is female energy and the circle representing the water. And the very centerpiece, the crossroad is Elegba by, uh, I’m horrible at spelling E – L- L- E- G- B- A (ELEGBA *only one L) believe I might have that wrong.  

Well, you might have it wrong, but I have a diagram that I can refer to. And I will definitely put a diagram of this in the show notes for everybody who’s listening and struggling to imagine. Um, I will absolutely add an image, uh, but carry on.  

And so, you know, this, if you think about Haitian, uh, Voodoo or Vodou um, was it not really the term that was used back then, but it’s what we bought. We connect and this practice was being done there in Haiti, it is, you know, the center post is a space where it allows the spirit to come in and Elegba is a trickster. Um, know, you know, what is it’s false or real. And, but then there’s the lwa, which is the spirit that mounts the body, as they were saying, you say mount to body, because it relates to a forest, uh, a horse with a rider that the rider mounts a horse. So when you say that the low owl has mounted a person, it, the spirit that is connected to him, but we speak of that in Pentecostal or Baptist churches, you speak of that are being touched by the Holy spirit or catching the Holy ghost. You know, you have this kind of language. In hip hop, you might say something like, you know, you blacked out or you went down or you’re going off is basically the space that a spirit enters into your existence and sort of takes over the movement that you’re doing, where you don’t even realize what you just did. Um, the circle in the Cosmogram also represents the perimeter of the circle and dance. And then that crossroads and the center is that person that is in the center. And that in the energy that can come from that, the circularity of the people in the perimeter feeding you in the center energy is where, and, and the guidance of the music is where you reach a devined spirit, or you can reach the Devine spirit, which was the whole purpose of this as a spiritual practice in the first place, was that the drum, a Mambo, which was a priest or priestess, but knowing that the Mambo where the spiritual guides to connect to that, to that other world, right? And it is believed that it is through the water, that the spirit can enter into our human existence hence the separation, um, babies being born through fluid, and the idea of humans being spiritual beings, having a human existence, not human beings, having a spiritual existence, this all plays into that concept. And the circle is a representation of that cosmogram right. That spiritual drawing. And it does the exact same thing. It, it creates that space that allows one to celebrate their individuality while also being attached to the community and the two feed each other, you know, you, you are part of the community, but we still acknowledge your individuality. So you might be in the center. And at some point you come out and someone else goes into the center and they are celebrated. There’s also a space of protection where you can see everybody’s back and you can warn them of any danger. So again, it’s that, it’s that way connected to a ring shot, where it is a it’s a coming together of a community to cultivate a safe space for them to practice their spirituality. And in dance’s case, it’s the, it’s the spiritual connection to the divine through movement and music is it’s doing the same thing. It’s just not perceived in the same manner, but it is the two things are one, one comes from the other. 

This is exactly why context is important, because if you are taught to jump in a circle as a, as a 13 year old in a hip hop class somewhere, which I admit I am fully guilty of this, I thought I was doing right by having your freestyle circle at the end of every class. But without any context at all, that circle doesn’t feel like a safe or spiritual place. It feels like 360 degrees of eyeballs judging you. And I think without the context of what that space can be, what it was created in, or, or intended loosely, I’ll say, uh, what it was created to be is something entirely different. I’m so glad I learned eventually what that is, um, and, and learn this concept and show and prove and became a person who is as comfortable in a circle as I am on a stage doing, you know, predetermined moves at predetermined rhythms. Um, but I think that in addition to this like deeper understanding of the symbolism of the circle, also one of the other things that helped me thrive in a circle, or like just exist there without feeling like I was going to implode on myself was, uh, becoming more familiar with party dances, learning enough social dances, that I had a good enough vocabulary to actually deconstruct things. And then reconstruct things. Like I don’t, I don’t know if somebody would be able to identify that I’m doing, uh, a Smurff or a Robocop because it’s that far deconstruct, it’s something else now, but without those dances,  existing in that space was really uncomfortable for me. So I thank these party dances, um, uh, for a lot of my evolution is dancer . And I do want to talk about party dances for a second because, Oh, by the way, I say party dances. And I, I suppose that’s just how many of these dances were introduced to me. Is there a right or wrong social dances versus party dances? If I’m talking about the cabbage patch or the Biz Markie or, uh, the Prep or the Reebok or those social dances or party dancers.   

No, that language is interchangeable. Um, it’s all mean the same thing. I mean, the dance is whatever the name of the dance is, and it was something done at a party, which is a social event. There’s no right or wrong.  

That’s good to know. I’m glad I asked because there are a few, um, areas of insecurity that I have. I have definitely been a person, you know, before I moved to LA in my early days, who would call somebody a break dancer… when people have asked me if I’m a Hip Hopper, I have said yes… And so I’m catching different ways where language can be terribly, terribly misused. Um, and I was wondering if that might be one of those. Okay. So social dance/party dance, thank you all the dances. But, um, what I, what I’m curious about is this quarantine moment that we’re in all the distance, which honestly, except for maybe the Kid in Play, I can’t think of, uh, of, of a party dance in my vocabulary that requires like a handhold on another person. If we go further back and we start looking at Lindy, Charleston, swing, things like that, very close proximity, like a super close embrace, but we got far apart for awhile. And my guess my romantic hope is that post quarantine or post vaccine, post Corona virus that we’ll come back together and that hands hands will touch again. And we’ll be dancing together again. That’s my secret hope, I guess. Um, other than that, there will be dancing, which you mentioned there will certainly be dancing. Do you have any ideas on the social dances or the people that are on the front line of creating them? 

Those are young people, you know, 8, 9, 10, 15, who are not concerned with holding anybody else’s hand, you know, and it’s understanding the, the, the shift in what partner dancing has become to a degree. Though. Um, Katrina Hazzard-Gordon, has she doesn’t consider partner dancing if you don’t touch. And I sort of disagree with that. I understand where she’s coming from, but you know, Lindy touching your partner, uh, any of the bop, it tango, the Philly Bop, uh, DC hand dance in Chicago stepping, the hustle, touching a partner that does not take away. The fact that me and another person doing the twist, our partner dancing, even though we’re not touching, like we are fully engaged with one another but not touch them. Hip hop was the same thing. If you dance with someone, if they’re doing the wop, you’re doing the wop, you are connected, you are it’s wireless transmission. As my boys would, say, you pick up on what they’re doing and you join in. It’s a call & response. Um, that gets that going, but then there’s a togetherness. So even though, you know, you’re not touching, you’re still dancing with someone.  

I love that argument. And that argument gives me hope for the rest of my lockdown.  

Yeah. So, I mean, you know, hustle made a huge resurgence, everybody’s doing the hustle. So I’m sure the hustle community is definitely going to be out there. People are going to be taking partner dances and salsa and everything else that’ll definitely grow. Um, and then people will be, even though they’re not touching communities of dances, we’ll be looking forward to going back to the parties and being collectively together, hearing the same music, sharing the same vibe, doing the same. So it’s, it’s just, you know what you want to focus this on. I would not focus on the fact that they’re not touching, but they are together. And, you know, if you really want to get philosophical, everybody’s touching through the air in the first place. If there’s air, we are touching  

Lets go! On the particle level.  

When people talk about the senses of the body, they talk about, they get to touch, right. You know, smell, hear, see they get to touch, but I’m like, if you, if you’re standing outside and the wind blows, you feel it, but nothing touched you. So you got to expand your idea of what the senses are. What touch actually is.  

I, I really do think that togetherness is… starts here (in the mind). And so we can dance here on a zoom call and have a sense of togetherness, uh, without touching. Thank you for reminding me of that. Um, okay. I don’t wanna, um, bamboozle your time this evening, but I do, I forgot to ask one thing right at the top. So maybe we’ll end with, with sort of the beginning, I would love to share a little bit of the etymology of the words, hip hop. It’s one of my favorite things that I learned from you, um, and being a person all of 34 years old, the meaning of the word hop to me meant like, you know, to jump, but I’ve been around long enough to know that, uh, like a sock hop or to hop till you drop or hop around the clock. Like, I know that that means dance, but I was really fascinated to hear the etymology of hip or I believe it started as hep  

It started as hip, but it became hep a little later on. And in fact, the word hip, according to John Leland, who wrote a book called the Hip: the history, uh, he did research suggesting that the word hip those back to Wolof speaking people in West Africa, and that the word hippie means to open one’s eyes, to be aware of something. And the word Hip was popularized in America, at least according to research, around 1800 sort of jumping through some of the time periods, it’s popularity in the forties, when it was spelled with an E you were a hep person, which meant that you were aware of what was going on, and you knew what was in fashion and what clubs were hot, where you go to eat and what band was good. You knew you were hep to what was going on by the sixties. It turns back into an I, so it’s hip. And there’s a sense, again, there’s still a sense of awareness because even when they talk about the hippie community of the sixties, they try to paint them as these like tie dye, free love, get high people, but you’re still talking about people who were conscious enough to fight against the war who, you know, women’s movement was like, let’s burn these bras, like this sense of freedom. Like they knew what was going on in government and politics. They were hip to what was going on. And usually when people are hip to what’s going on, they try to paint them as crazy. In the seventies you still have the word hip, as you were mentioning, hop in America in the 20th century was always synonymous with dance. You know, let’s go to the hop, let’s go to the dance, uh, hop around the clock, meant to dance beyond midnight or dance all night. You know, people of that generation would go to a sock hop where you take off your shoes and your dance and your socks. So hop was to dance. One of the earliest records to sort of have a play on the words, hip and hop was,  

Oh, uh, Delight. Rapper’s delight.  

No, that’s way later. That’s 79.  

Yes. Bring me the knowledge. Yeah,  

That wasn’t until 79. That was, they were really late to the party. There’s another record out. There’s two records. One accidentally puts the two words together. So it’s, uh, uh, Scatman Crothers 1956 or 57 songs, sweet lips where he just happens to he’s, he’s naming these things. He wants, I want to flip flop, hip hop, like, yeah. Rappers are like, they didn’t get it until the seventies. And so it basically means you, everybody can have their interpretation of it. But hip is a word that meant to be aware of, to be knowledgeable of something. And hop was just synonymous with dance. But that is, that’s the etymology of those two words as they are being used. It was Keef Cowboy that actually brought up that phrasing by accident. When a friend of his, I can’t think of his name was going into the armed services and at a party, it was Keef Cowboy that was saying you to, you know, you said something to the effect of like, you know, you’ve been living up tonight because tomorrow going to be hip, hop, hip like that. Right. And so then Lovebug Starski takes it on and then develops it into the phrasing of hip hop. And then, you know, then we find it, we hear the Rapper’s delight, but that’s, I mean, that’s basically, you know what that is. And the fact that the name has that hip hop culture is named Hip hop culture was also purely accidental, uh, based on a 1981 January issue of the East Village Eye , that came out where Michael Holman did an interview with Afrika Bambaataa

 and asking Bam, you know, what the, what this bubbling culture was, but this new thing, the kids were in, Bam didn’t have a definition. So he just started reciting Rapper’s delight and . And it was written. So, and then there it is, but purely accidental. And because it was Afrika Bambaataa

 it, you know, he brought some levity to it, so it stuck. And, um, but that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s it in a nutshell.  

Incredible. I, I love it. And I would love to talk more, but I would really love everybody who’s listening to go find more of you, your lessons, which is way, way deeper than anything. I would say we barely scratched the surface in our conversation today. Um, so can you tell us a little, Oh, I registered for, um, Passionfruit Seeds, which starts in the middle of February. If you’re listening to this on the day of its release, you still have one day to register. I’m going to link to the registration page in the show notes of this episode, but Moncell be a contributing educator at that event, uh, Passionfruit Seeds. But, uh, can you tell us a little bit about intangible roots? When will your next course be the hoping  

I’m developing that now. Well, I’m definitely going to do another summer in July and I’m actually working on a six week course. I don’t know if I’ll be able to introduce the six week course this coming summer, but certainly I’ll do another four classes. So intangible roots will be out, uh, as a course, the summer sessions, there will be, um, um, doing another film screening the last day of this month. Uh, so advertisement will go up on Instagram will go up on Twitter will go up on Facebook  

I will be sure to, uh, share and reshare and include that in special bulletins to all ye as well. Um, Moncell, how do we find more? You were, uh, follow followings and web sightings.  

Well, pretty much everything is my name, Moncell Durden. Uh, my Instagram account is @moncelldurden My clubhouse account is moncelldurden. I, uh, um, Twitter is MoncellDurden. My web page is moncelldurden.com Facebook is the only one that’s different. Facebook is Moncell Illkozby Durden. And, uh, and, um, and I have a new website, intangibleroots.com that I haven’t, I haven’t started developing yet, but you can, things get posted on my website. Things get posted on Instagram. Those you definitely want to check back and forth on those. The, um, the other platform I’m I’m engaged with now is clubhouse. And it’s basically a, it’s basically a open line conversation, you know, it’s all completely audio. You can’t see anybody, they can’t see you. And, um, I started doing, I started a talk last night called black social dances, history, heritage stories, and more, and I’m going to do one every Monday. I do believe I said eight o’clock, which I’m going to have to shift if I did say eight o’clock to nine o’clock because I’m still teaching my lecture course at eight o’clock. Oh yeah. I have to make that change. Um, yeah, people can find me there and, and Instagram, and I might do some film screenings of different documentaries, uh, maybe two a month over the next couple of months to get ready for the summer that I’m trying to, my plan is to speak to the directors of each of the films. So if I can set that up, then that’s the plan. Um, and that those will be free on zoom. And, uh, yeah, just look for me on, look for me on, uh, uh, for my website and the website will always post the next classes for intangible roots.  

Incredible. Well, I will be sure to link to all of those places. Um, and I really do hope that everyone who’s listening continues this deep dive. Uh, there’s, there’s so much to be learned. Um, really appreciate your time. Thank you for being here.  

Thank you for having me. 

My pleasure, my pleasure  

There, you have it. I hope that this episode has inspired you to dig in and dig deeper into your dance history, into your personal history and to the history of whatever craft it is. You are practicing. I hope that you seek more than names and dates as you’re studying. It really is about context. It’s about meaning. It’s about the message. And I am so grateful for Moncell for sharing his message today. Again, all of the links to moncell’s work, his projects, his workshops will be found in the show notes to this episode, and that is it for me. Get out there and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review. Your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

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