Urban Soul Movement helps members discover hip-hop culture

CAPTION%3A+Sophomores+William+Chang+and+Joshua+Chitajaya+give+a+demonstration+to+the+new+club+members.+USM+welcomes+inexperienced+students+who+wish+to+become+knowledgeable+in+various+aspects+of+hip-hop+culture.+Photo+by+Sharon+Tung.+

CAPTION: Sophomores William Chang and Joshua Chitajaya give a demonstration to the new club members. USM welcomes inexperienced students who wish to become knowledgeable in various aspects of hip-hop culture. Photo by Sharon Tung.

Sharon Tung

During the beginning of the Urban Soul Movement meeting on Sept. 23 in the dance room, sophomore Joshua Citajaya takes the center stage while sophomores William Chang and Seena Ashtiani watch on the side, waiting for their turn. The three are experienced and executed skilled moves while breaking. Photo by Sharon Tung.
During the beginning of the Urban Soul Movement meeting on Sept. 23 in the dance room, sophomore Joshua Citajaya takes the center stage while sophomores William Chang and Seena Ashtiani watch on the side, waiting for their turn. The three are experienced and executed skilled moves while breaking. Photo by Sharon Tung.
CAPTION: Sophomores William Chang and Joshua Citajaya give a demonstration to the new club members. USM welcomes inexperienced students who wish to become knowledgeable in various aspects of hip-hop culture. Photo by Sharon Tung.
Sophomores William Chang and Joshua Citajaya give a demonstration to the new club members. USM welcomes inexperienced students who wish to become knowledgeable in various aspects of hip-hop culture. Photo by Sharon Tung.


Gangs. Drugs. Crime. Many people would associate hip-hop culture with negative influences and illegal activities.

According to Urban Soul Movement president junior Robert Zhou, hip-hop was actually meant to prevent gangs and crime. Hip-hop culture was started in poorer neighborhoods where the residents lacked material items. In order to prevent gang wars and fights, people created art by using the movement of their body, known as breaking.

The liberty and freedom found in the expression of breaking, something Zhou wants to encapsulate in the club, makes USM a safe place for students to experiment in all aspects of hip-hop. Enthusiasts of all skill levels, even members from Lynbrook High School, come to break together at their practices on either Wednesdays at lunch or Fridays from 3-5 p.m. in the MVHS dance studio.


Stories of how USM officers started in hip-hop

Robert

President junior Robert Zhou

At the end of the seventh grade summer, I was watching YouTube. I found one video about three people battling each other. Two of them were from Best Crew, a parody group, and the other person was a professional dancer.

I saw the professional dancer break, and it was really cool. It was weird to see something like that. You had to use everything you have. I felt like I could be a whole another person. The way they moved around so freely was interesting. I wanted that freedom and independence to get away from expectations of me.”

Zhou’s advice: “You can start from where ever you want. In breaking, there are so many paths. Traditionally you can do this and this, but really, you can make up whatever you what. That’s an aspect of hip-hop that’s really important. You have to be unique. You are encouraged to make your own moves and beats because that’s what makes you you, and that’s what other people in hip-hop respects a lot.”

Shreeya

Vice-President junior Shreevika Mitra

“I first started taking classes in middle school. When I first got to [MVHS], my link leader used to be a part of this club. She told me about it, and I joined the club.”

Choreo 101:  “Usually, most guys do a lot of b-boying and girls do choreo, but we mix it up sometimes. We prepare for the showcases. You watch a lot of dance videos to get inspiration. You pick which songs you’re going to perform and you use that to make your own choreography for the songs. Then, you teach it to the other members of the club.”

Noah

Social Manager sophomore William Chang

“I first got started from a show called America’s Best Dance Crew. My inspiration was from Quest Crew, D-trix and Victor Kim. Dance seems more interesting and lets off my steam from grades and at home.”

Chang’s advice: “Just keep practicing. If you just started and see all these videos of other people, don’t be afraid. If you keep practicing, you’ll still be good, but maybe just not as good as professionals.”

 

William

Treasurer sophomore Joshua Citajaya

One day when I was getting my lunch, [Chang] came up to me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to follow me?’ He was my friend at the time. I asked him what we were going to, and he replied, ‘breaking.’ I told him ‘I was not cool enough for this,’ but I went anyways.

After I came, I grew really interested. I ended up loving what I was doing and hip-hop in general. I stayed with it for a year, and it’s my favorite club.”

Citajaya’s advice: “Don’t be discouraged about what you can do, because hip-hop will teach you that hard work and determination will lead you to be able to do anything no matter how weak you you feel. There’s always more you think you can do.”