Krumping is a relatively new street dance form that originated in the streets of Los Angeles’ South Central neighborhood. Dancing is offered as an alternative to violence in an area known for heavy gang crime, and it is often heavily based in faith and spirituality. Krump is an acronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise, coined the group’s founders.
The origins of krumping can be traced back to a fusion of several popular dance forms in the Los Angeles area. In addition to traditional hip-hop and break dancing moves, krumping is heavily influenced another unique Los Angeles dance form known as clowning, which was pioneered dancer Tommy the Clown. Extremely aggressive movements are typical of the style, which are used as expressions of extreme frustration and powerful emotion.
Several prominent dancers, including Li’l C, Tight Eyez, Big Mijo, Slayer, and Hurricane, founded the dance style as it is known today around 2000 or 2001. They started having dance battles between students from various originators. Families or “fams” began to form around specific teachers. Many fam members adopted names that were similar to those of their leaders, with some indicating the level of mastery of the style or the number of battles won.
Krumping is typically done to music that has a strong rhythm or beat. To match the rhythms, the music can be fast or slow, and most pieces include sections of slow and fast movement. Many dancers are also musicians or DJs, and some even create their own music to match their style or signature moves.
Emotional and spiritual inspiration should guide movement in the form. Arm swings, some elements of popping or locking the body, and suspended movements are all common moves. Precise steps are contrasted with wild freestyle sections that resemble African tribal dance. Instead of moving through the core of the body, movement is concentrated in the feet, arms, and shoulders.
“Bucket” is a common slang term for krumping, and it refers to hitting your moves hard or doing them aggressively. Telling a dancer they are buck or that their style is buck is a compliment. Tight Eyez, one of the founders, claims that aggression is the first level of the dance, with greater exhilaration and skill found when krumping is infused with emotion and spirituality.
For a style born at the turn of the twenty-first century, krumping has gotten a lot of attention around the world. It has gained popularity in Europe and Japan, and krump routines have appeared in a number of films. So You Think You Can Dance? is a popular competition show. The founder, L’il C, choreographs the krump routines, which are usually well received the judges and the audience. Krumping has emerged as a distinct and potent new force in the dance world.