Krumping is a relatively new street dance form born in the streets of South Central Los Angeles. In an area known for heavy gang crime, dancing is offered as an alternative means of expression to violence, and often is heavily based in faith and spirituality. Krump is an acronym created by its founders, for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise.
The origin of krumping is a meld of several different dance forms popular in the LA area. In addition to standard hip-hop and break dancing moves, much of the influence for krumping comes from another unique Los Angeles dance form called clowning, pioneered by dancer Tommy the Clown. The style is typically described as having extremely aggressive movements, used as expressions of extreme frustration and powerful emotion.
The dance style as it is today was founded around 2000 or 2001, by several prominent dancers including Li’l C, Tight Eyez, Big Mijo, Slayer, and Hurricane. They began holding dance battles between students of the different originators. Groups began to form around particular teachers, creating families or “fams.” Many members of fams would take names similar to their leaders, some indicating the degree to which they had mastered the style or the amount of battles won.
Krumping is usually performed to music with a prominent rhythm or beat. The music can be fast or slow, and most pieces contain sections of slow and fast movement to match the rhythms. Many involved with the dance style are also musicians or djs, and some dancers will even make their own music to match their style or signature moves.
Movement in the form is meant to be guided by emotional and spiritual inspiration. Typical moves include arm swings, some elements of popping or locking of the body, and suspended movements. Precise steps are contrasted with wild sections of freestyle that appear similar to African tribal dance. Movement is concentrated in the feet, arms and shoulders rather than through the core of the body.
One common slang term associated with krumping is “buck,” which means hitting your moves hard or doing the moves really aggressively. It is a compliment to tell a dancer they are buck or their style is buck. One of the founders, Tight Eyez, suggests that being aggressive is the first level of the dance, with greater exhilaration and skill being found when krumping is filled with emotion and spirituality.
For a style born at the beginning of the 21st century, krumping has gained tremendous worldwide attention. It has become popular throughout Europe and Japan, and krump routines have been featured in several films. On the popular competition show, So You Think You Can Dance? krump routines are choreographed by founder L’il C, and are usually very well received by the judges and the audience. Krumping has emerged as a unique and powerful new force in the world of dance.