Promoting hip hop at SPU

Junior Chris Jellum and senior Carolyn Lara of new hip hop dance group Ante Up.

Junior Chris Jellum and senior Carolyn Lara of new hip hop dance group Ante Up.

Junior Chris Jellum came to SPU last year looking for an all-inclusive dance community.  Among the dance teams, he was unable to find exactly what he wanted.

“I was looking for a dance community,” Jellum said. “The dance teams here danced, but they didn’t show the culture I was used to.”

Jellum originally danced at Koncrete Movement dance studio in Tacoma before coming to SPU.

Instead of giving up hope, he decided to create his own, and thus came about “Ante Up,” a hip-hop dance group that hopes to soon be an ASSP club at SPU.

If the dance group succeeds in getting club status, Jellum will be the president of Ante Up, and freshman Connor Pierce will be the vice president.

“I want [SPU] to be put on the map for dance and have people come here and know there is a dance community. And make that an ulterior motive for some people to come here,” Jellum said.

The process of starting a club at SPU involves a lot of hard work and paperwork. One of the main parts of starting a club is writing a constitution that follows SPU’s mission statement and Christian values.

“Basically, we are trying to get ASSP to support our idea so that we can get further involved with things on campus,” Pierce said.

Jellum said that incorporating the Christian values criterion was difficult because some have a bad impression of hip-hop, but as a team, they did come up with a mission statement.

“Dance is a gift from God, and we should be able to express that as a community,” Jellum said.

Both Jellum and Pierce said that their goal is to provide a safe place for all students in all levels of dance to express themselves and create community from it.

“Whether or not you have dance background, even if you just have a love or an interest or you don’t know yet … you should come,” Pierce said.

The club has yet to be ratified by ASSP, so many details are not set in stone, but it has plans for regular meetings each week on Friday nights from 7-10 p.m. in the Emerson Lobby.  Each Friday meeting will consist of three hour sections — first an hour of freestyle dance followed by two one-hour choreography routines.

“You don’t think about [freestyle]. You just express what your body feels like doing while the music is playing,” Jellum said.

Jellum is based in choreography, and Pierce focuses on freestyle. Jellum described each of them as dancers in training, so the club plans to bring in professional choreographers from the Seattle area.

Two of the choreographers they plan on hiring are Isiah Munoz and Furgaan Omer.  According to Jellum, both are famous for freestyle and creative choreography.

The club will explore different types of dance, from the well-known form of breakdancing to popping, which involves extreme muscle control and creating illusions with your body, to an aggressive style, called crumping. Other than teaching dance lessons, Ante Up will serve as a place students can hear about different dance opportunities in Seattle.

“The Seattle dance community isn’t as big as people might think it is, so once you’re in it, everyone knows you, and you know them,” Jellum said. “You hear when things are going on.”

In order to encourage new dancers, Jellum and Pierce have taken certain precautions.

One way they are doing this is trying to dispel any previously held knowledge that describes hip-hop in a negative way.

“The fact that people have this negative connotation of the lifestyle and the lyrics that are often used — that’s not what dance focuses on,” Pierce said.

Jellum focuses on respect.

“[What] I want people to emphasize in this club is to respect each other,” Jellum said. “You have to set the example, and I think starting here with all these new dancers is a good way to start.”

The leaders of this club hope that it can be a safe place for members to come dance, learn and share their passion.

“This isn’t Connor’s or my club — this is everyone else’s club,” Jellum said. “They are going to be the ones learning and putting in the work. The members are going to be driving where this club goes.”