Zoom, November 2021
I am a movement artist of different ethnic backgrounds (Black & Indian Caribbean & White European) specialising in Popping and also a member of Fiya House crew. My work is thought provoking and often created with contextual emphasis on current world happenings and personal lived experiences, i.e. one of my projects entailed working with an economist to develop an event to deconstruct the Indian caste system using HipHop culture. My artistic versatility in dance, martial arts and music allows me to shift between artistic realms of theatre, commercial and site-specific work. A few notable companies I have worked with include Cirque Bijou, Artists4Artists, JUST US Dance Company, Kadir Memis Company, Matsena Productions, WeStaged, House of Absolute, Fabian Prioville Company/Pina Bausch and many more. Additionally, some artists I have recently worked with include Rita Ora, Little Mix and Dua Lipa. I am currently working on my solo project entitled R3 - Rewiring which is an abstract performance art using Hip-Hop and Contemporary movement techniques. The underlying thread demonstrates how the evolving body readjusts to each situation it encounters. This work will first be shared at The Place for Resolution in May 2022.
IA: Could you introduce yourself and describe what it is that you do?
PC: My name is Paris Crossley. I am a movement-based artist and I specialise mostly in street dance styles. I would say my forte is primarily popping, but I trained in a bunch of different street dance styles. More recently, I've been working with a lot of companies that go outside of that, such as circus and contemporary dance trained companies, and so that's been implemented into my own skill set. It becomes a multiplication of all these things. I do some martial arts like Tai Chi and Qi Gong and I have also have some music, percussion, Latin-based percussion, as well. All of this comes together to create who I am.
IA: The idea of crews and kinships in Hip Hop are is really prevalent. With your relationship with Fiya House and others, could you talk about kinship and the idea of a family that you choose?
PC: My crew Fiya House - that was created - I was there from the start. It was created by Brooke Milliner and Dickson Mbi and it's mainly led by those two with Shawn Aimey...then you have the rest of the people in the crew. This crew started off in, I think 2014, they chose people that they already had been aware of in the dance sphere and then brought them together. The first set of Fiya House...because it's grown and changed with some new people, some old people...I would say it was more like a family. It was more like a family how it came about and therefore was more like a crew. Now it has grown into something that is still a crew, but I would say crew/family/company because now we've grown from doing battles and events - be it a participating in them and also making them to performing as well. These people within the crew are really like my family. They've really helped shape me, who I am as an artist, they've taught me a lot of things. I won't say they are my primary teachers, they have taught me a lot of things, but they're not my primary teachers. It's been more of an exchange between us that helped us to come together and grow as one. They’ve become this leading force or crew especially in popping and what's interesting about the crew is that not everybody is based in popping. Some people do other different styles, like contemporary, locking, krump and all of this comes into the crew. It has also helped to help us to expand ourselves as a company that can go on stage and present something.
IA: Generational hierarchy, and lineage is also really prevalent in Hip Hop and popping. Could you talk about your Hip Hop and popping lineages?
PC: I can't speak too much on Hip Hop, because that's not a style that I have particularly gone down into. I've been taught it and it's within my style of popping, but it's not something that I am heavily rooted in. Within popping my lineage starts back at Swindon Dance Academy. I went to Swindon Dance Academy when I was 13 and I had two core teachers there - one for breaking and one for popping - and sometimes we'd have different teachers that would come in and lead our curriculum. My popping teacher Robert Hylton, he was my primary teacher for popping. He's taught me pretty much most of my foundational moves within popping. He's taught me the foundation, he’s taught me foundation styles and how to deconstruct them, break them apart and create my own way of moving within these forms...within the style. I think it's definitely interesting because he has come from a contemporary background, he's studied in modern dance and contemporary and ballet, so his way of looking at the style and deconstructing the style was heavily led by that. My style has developed this way of being based or rooted within popping, but also how I put things together, how I view things and how I create...has also roots within contemporary as well. I was also taught sometimes by Brooke Milliner and by Shawn Aimey - a lot of the Plague Dance Crew. My mum is from Bristol and I moved to Bristol when I was younger, but I was going between London and Bristol a lot...even though I was younger and based in Bristol, once I started to understand these styles, I went to London a lot to go to Fred Realness’s class. I would go to his popping classes and I'd even take locking ones as well because I understood the relationship between them. One was bred from the other and so I thought it was important to understand that, to deeply understand the style that was of interest to me - popping. I should mention that before I had an interest in popping, I didn’t enjoy popping at all. [laughs] I had no idea what popping was before I went to Swindon Dance. I had no idea what that was. I only auditioned for the Swindon Dance Academy because...it was a charity-based organisation and they used to fund kids to go there. I thought that was amazing and I thought, ‘OK, why not? If they're giving free educational dance, why not just go?’ And take advantage of it because I know a lot of people can't get the same opportunity, especially at that time, there weren’t many schools or academies were offering street dance training in the UK. Especially training that was aimed towards professional dance training. I think it's one thing to learn a style, but then to also learn the discipline of it as well. It's very rare. I didn't really appreciate or know much about the style when I went to school and therefore I didn't like it, I was coming from a more choreo-based background. I saw that ‘oh my gosh, I'm stepping into this room, I have to freestyle, I have to learn all these techniques and I don't know what to do with myself. I'm used to ‘5, 6, 7, 8...go!’ [laughs] So I was shaken up by that and actually, at one point, I cried. When I was asked to freestyle in the cypher, I cried. But since that point, I said to myself, ‘Paris, you just need to practice. Practice, then you'll feel more confident go into a cypher and do what you practiced. Develop more of a relationship to the style’. So I started practicing and eventually it came, my interest came. Then taking classes with Fred, Brooke, Shawn, etc. came naturally. I was more invested in searching out what popping meant, not just physically but also visually, observationally by YouTube, searching popping artists at the time, the Electric Boogaloos, other big names who were in the game at that time. So I was taking class and Fred Realness and the rest and I started to just practice...to take everything that I learned, going to my dance school, which was weekly, and began teaching myself and writing things down in a black book. I was given a black book by my teacher. I'd write down all of the techniques and foundations and now go through them, create exercises for myself to do so that I could practice them. Then I started to just zoom into my own practice, of how to build myself within this style. That is essentially my lineage. Then from there of coming into this crew. Before that I met Dickson at Trocadero. There was such a thing called Trocadero in London and a lot of dancers would go there to train. I think I was training with Shawn Aimey at the time...he really pushed me to train in the style a lot of the time. I think he must have saw the potential and my interest...and really took hold of that. I'm forever grateful to him, and also to Brooke for really pushing me to go into different spaces and practice with people. With that, I met Dickson Mbi and after I met him, we trained together, then he knew me, and then from there, we trained together more often. Then they decided to create this crew and I was a part of the crew. Then, my journey with popping grew even more...they knew other names that I'd never heard before. They would bring them to Fiya House, like Salah, to come and teach us. I was very young at that time, probably 16. At the same time, while this was all happening, I started to compete. But...the funny thing is, I never really wanted to compete. I felt like I was pushed to compete, or I should say, encouraged to compete. My first battle that I did was Regional Conflict. It was the preliminary round before you did UK B-boy Championships and I got really far in that first battle. I got to the semis and from there, I don't know...a spark just ignited and I wanted to search out more, so then I started to travel and learn from other people. From there more opportunities started to pop up. I was invited to go and battle in France, for example. Then I met more people like Nelson and Franqey and I was speaking to them trying to understand their ways of moving. Then from being a battle guest to going into judging as well...I think the first time I judged might have been in Finland, this was a whole different experience. Going from a participant to battle guest to judge to teacher really opened up different realms within the popping community and what I was exposed to. I started to dabble in each of these things, and I still dabble in each of these things as well.
IA: In your network, and those people who are in your orbit, who would you say, are the three people who nourish, support and feed you? It's important that it's only three.
PC: Wow. I think I will speak about the three people who do that for me right now. I think one person would be Julia Cheng from House of Absolute. She has always been a driving force to who I am as an artist, and also as a female artist within my community...although she doesn't necessarily specialise in popping, she's an amazing performing artist and she's taught me a lot. She always supports me and has given me the opportunity to grow. Julia Cheng. Another person would be Maren Ellerman. She’s always encouraged me to branch out and try different things, whether it be me being a performing artist or me being a producer - she is a producer herself. She's always given me an eye-opener into that realm and also has presented me with opportunities as well. Maren Ellerman. For the last person, I will give it to my partner, Leroy Curwood. He's also an amazing artist and I think the fact that we are so in tune with what we want to achieve independently, as artists and as human beings, this naturally makes me want to bud and grow as a person and he’s one of my biggest supporters and vice versa.
IA: What is your relationship to craft and practice?
PC: My relationship to practice? I strongly believe when it comes to training and my craft...I personally don't believe in hammering hours a day. I don't believe in that. I believe in doing small chunks every day to grow. One - so that I don't get bored of it and so it doesn't seem like a chore. Another thing is to change it up in short bursts. Otherwise I feel like I'm drilling a hole within my heart and in my brain - as opposed to actually nourishing it. I believe in short bursts of practice sessions, changing it up all the time - but within the style that I'm focusing on. Not necessarily changing it up from artistic mediums. However, I do this when I feel like it, but also when I experience a mental block. I always think it's important to just change if I feel a block. That's training. In terms of my craft, I would say...when I'm working, I always love to branch out into avenues that are not necessarily related to my initial expertise. I think it's very important for my work as an artist, to see how I can influence my craft outside of what is normally seen as the thing to do. I think a big thing for me is innovation. How can I innovate my craft? I feel like I can't stay in one bubble and grow like I need to. I need to expand and experience several different things within my craft and outside of it in order to shape it, how I want it to be and not how another person wants it to be. I see a lot of dance shows outside of my craft and I work with a lot of people outside of my craft and in it as well. I like my relationship to my craft and my practice, it is very refreshing and I always change it up.
IA: What was the first Hip Hop theatre work that you saw?
PC: Oh, God. That is a very hard question. Within a theatre...I can't say the show. OK, it was at Breakin’ Convention, but I can't remember the first piece that I've seen. But it was many years ago...maybe 2015...it’s such a long time ago. I can tell you the show that really changed my perspective on Hip Hop theatre or what I thought it meant and made me want to venture down that path...Wang Ramirez. Yeah. Honji and Sebastien's company. I saw them for the first time in Breakin’ Convention a few years ago, they did a duet...it was so beautiful and not typical to what a lot of people would think Hip Hop theatre would be. I really liked how they stuck true to the root of Hip Hop, but they also incorporated several other elements within it to expand what the show was trying to convey. This was the show that really stuck out to me and made me want to go down Hip Hop theatre route. As a battler the show that really sticks out for me was probably Dey Dey and Cathy’s show...I think it was called Fem-Bot. It was a popping duet they did many years ago at Sadler's Wells. When I first saw that, that really engaged me to want to be a force and a female figure within the popping scene even more.
IA: This year, I've seen your name on so many Hip Hop theatre works, I want you to offer an insight into some of them. First Hand Me Down with Wayward Thread.
PC: Oh, OK. Yes, that was the most recent one. [laughs] That was really cool. It was very shocking to my system, only because at that point, I had been in so many other projects before that and every time I had to change project, I had to get into a different mind space. Get into a new way of working. Because with this project I was thrown into the deep end...it was a different mind space because we didn't have a lot of time. I was thrown into the project with just a week and the rest of the cast had already had an R&D prior to the one that I came into. So, I got in there and I was like ‘I'm freaking out!’ But...it went very well and working with them was amazing. It was so great...they're really amazing artists and people, they made me feel at home. It was Si, Ffion and Helder who was part of the show at the time. I unfortunately couldn't get too much into my story because Si’s piece was about telling everybody’s story within the group, about what it means to have a dual identity or a mixed race heritage or a multiracial heritage - not just through your ethnicity or your race, but through your experiences as a person, or what you have grown up with. So it was a light piece, with a heavy undertone. There was many times where you would laugh about something, but then if you actually processed it, you’d be like ‘oh wow. Yeah, that's, that's really deep, and that's really crazy and very relevant’. It was very relevant to now and to today which I was very impressed by. I really appreciated it because I do feel a lot of Hip Hop theatre...they always discuss past events, but with no rooting to the future, or, the present even. I don't want to say all of Hip Hop theatre, I mean that there are a lot of pieces that are about the past as opposed to the present and what's happening now. Unfortunately I couldn't have my story put into it, so I was going in between their stories and being this kind of thread for their pieces, a linkage.
IA: What about Narben and Namen with Khadir in Germany?
PC: With Amigo! Yes, yes. [laughs] That was oh...that was a completely different level, something else entirely. This one is really hard for me to explain, so he had three phat female poppers come into the piece...and, how to explain this? It was looking at common people within the Berlin scene but more so, I would say the working-class community and even below that...and looking through their experiences as people within their community...but through the lens of a graffiti artist. So, using graff as a way of shaping how we moved to express how they live. That's probably the most simplistic way I can describe it. That was essentially what it was. It was an amazing piece and we worked with some graff artists in the space. They got us to do experiments with our bodies and their work and we would try different ways of experimenting with what they told us. We would also draw ourselves, to build that relationship, so we understand what that means. We would go out into society and look at these spaces and places where people would be, so that we understand the essence and energy behind what it is that we are doing whilst creating. At the end of the creation period, we made a film and we also made a theatre piece as well, which we showed in Germany and I think we're gonna be touring that next year. I was there for I was there for two or three months and I love Berlin. [laughs]
IA: You're fresh out of R&D for Shuffle, phase two, with Katy Noakes and Lea Anderson. Can you talk a little bit about what that is like to be in the middle of a process of research and development and how that has been?
PC: Oh, it's been amazing. The choreographer is Lea, she's amazing. I'm dancing with Frankie Johnson and Lewis Norman. They are wonderful characters - very quirky, very individualistic. Dancing with Frankie is amazing, dancing with Lewis is amazing, we are all very different. The piece is basically just about...it’s based off the iPod. You can play, you can shuffle or you can rewind - it's a very audience participatory piece. Essentially the audience has control over us as dancers, but we have the material ready for whichever they choose and we're just creating a formatted piece that is very systematic. It's not necessarily a heavy piece, but it's a very fun and uplifting piece based on club culture.
IA: Then there's Paris in the battle space and the battle scene. You mentioned your first with Regional Conflict in 2015. Could you talk about the battle with Monsta Pop in 2019? That looked epic and it was so close with the judges. What are your thoughts on it now looking back?
PC: I have to be very honest with you...throughout my whole time of doing Summer Dance in 2019, I was in the middle of doing my MA dissertation...so I didn't even know if I was going to enter the battle. I went because I wanted a break whilst I was doing my dissertation [laughs] and I ended up entering last minute. I got through and I was battling, but I literally did not care. I did not care at all. I went, did the battle, went outside and worked on my dissertation, came back in and battled. I think Jonzi has a picture of me sitting on my laptop working outside of the venue. Crazy. So when I made it to the judges round, I was like, ‘oh, yes, Monsta Pop’, I love the way he moves and I think he's so creative and so innovative within his popping - not just within his popping...he’s a dancer. I think that's why I really appreciated the exchange that we had, I’ve not watched any of the footage so I have no idea what I’ve done or what he had done, for that or any of the other battles. But I can tell you that I remember feeling really good about it, because I felt like I was sharing with someone, as opposed to battling someone. I felt like I was feeding off of this energy and I was taking things that he was showing me and making it my own. That's all I could say.
IA: Creativity and innovation are real drivers for you. That's clear. Can you talk about your approach to character development and creativity in popping? How do you approach those things? How do you build and weave these things in?
PC: This is a very, very good question...a very hard question. This makes me think of the very beginning phase as to why I think I went down this creativity and innovation obsession. After I did my first battle, somebody came up to me and said, ‘I really like your style and what you do, but you repeat a lot’. That really took hold of me and I didn't like it. I don't want to repeat my stuff unless I do it intentionally and I want to be able to be free within my movement. For me to be free with my movement just means it is very spontaneous. From then I started to go back, I would freestyle, record myself and look at what it is that I am repeating. Then I’d go back and break the habit. How can I change the habit? How can I break the habit by changing very small details? Whether that’s within the movement itself, changing one angle or changing a level, a direction or making something a little bit more crooked or obscure. I would even look at different characters on YouTube, through what I was watching at the time, so whether that be like a cartoon or a live character that I really liked...taking an essence of their personality and put it into what it is that I was doing. I still do that today. I think doing that consistently over a long period of time has reshaped how I move and has also reshaped the pathways of which my brain then produced the movement. Working with so many different types of movers or different kinds of artists, speaking with them and how they create...or taking a look at their creative process. Learning repertoire or choreography that they do has then been embedded into my own movement and way of moving and has shaped how I move again and again and again. I think those are the most simplistic ways that I've done that. intentionally and unintentionally by being with other people in a space.
IA: The difference between you as a one person - a solo battle and you in a crew in battle. I was looking at some of the Fiya House battles in Taiwan at Battle-ism. Could you talk a little bit about the psychology and the difference between the solo battle and the crew battle for you?
PC: Interesting. As a solo artist...it's not very different. I know that I'm just one person and so I have to give it my all, but I also know when I'm alone, to never fall into the trap of the hype around me, and to just be myself. It's very important to me because that's when I perform the best. To listen to who I am, when I'm moving and what feels good when I'm moving, as opposed to focusing on my opponent. Because then I feel like I lose everything that I've trained and I've worked for and who I am as a person. I think that is what champions you as an artist - when you can see the person within how they move. So, when I'm alone, I always just make sure I stretch and I talk to myself, before I do anything to make sure that I am with me and I'm in the space, and then I'll go and battle. But I really don't take it seriously at the same time. [laughs] I think that is because I never initially wanted to battle. Which is crazy, because I think people, they know me through the battle scene...originally a lot of people...but I never actually wanted to battle. It was just something that I was pushed into and then because people thought I was good at it, I was invited to do more things. That's me as a solo dancer, I keep to myself a lot of the time. Then as somebody who is in a crew - I love crew battles. I love having the energy of the people that I am with. I am supporting them, they are supporting me, we have these crazy routines, so we're also performing together, but then we're letting people shine by themselves and then come forth and then go back and then come forward. I love the banter that happens in the battle whilst everything's happening. It's so funny because I actually think being in a crew battle makes me feel like I'm in a battle and I'm ready to battle as opposed to when I'm doing it as one person as a solo. I don't know if it’s more of an adrenaline thing. I love battling with Fiya House a lot, they really encourage me, they really push me because they're so strong. I think naturally I bring out something else so that I can be on the same footing as that strength. Usually because I'm the only girl within the team, I really have to stay grounded, but stay strong at the same time. It helps because they're so supportive of me being there.
IA: You're working with Leeds Uni on a couple of projects, one exploring the Indian caste system and Hip Hop and how the government in France is looking at Hip Hop arts and the individual. Could you talk a little bit about them?
PC: Oh, wow. Yes. I worked with Leeds University and I worked with a lecturer from Leeds University with me as a movement artist and a lecturer. I was coming in and we were talking about...’what do we want to change, create or bring change about within our world?’ and we zoomed in on the Indian caste system. She - the person that I was working with - her roots are Indian, my roots are...I am partly Indian as well. So we thought, ‘OK, this is important to us, let's focus on this. How can we use Hip Hop to decompose/deconstruct the caste system and improve it? Eradicate it, or bring some awareness to it?’ We had lots of meetings and we built this draft of different exercises that we could do and then we put these exercises into an event system - which we still need to discuss - we now to find funding to actually make this a live project. That's what that project will be about.
IA: I thought that was interesting because there's not many artists who even acknowledge the caste system, let alone are making artistic interventions or explorations of it.
PC: Yeah, there’s not much at all. In fact I don’t think there's many people within the Hip Hop community that go outside of the Hip Hop community struggles and focus on outside struggles. How can we collaborate to make it one thing and evolve both these struggles together? I think there's not many people who do this and I really want to be an advocate for this, especially in the future.
IA: What do you want to dismantle in popping?
PC: What to I want to dismantle in popping? [pause] Honestly, nothing comes to my head because I am not invested in the politics within popping. I know for myself that I love this style, I train this style, I practice this style and I want to hone in to the love of it - as opposed to the politics of it. I think if I wanted to dismantle something then it’d have to be within the political aspect of it. I choose not to engage with it because I think it fuels an unnecessary fire. Not that it's not important, but I'm not placing my energy there at the moment. All these things that come into popping for the moment is what...what creates the fire in the scene, so I'll just let that be and when it's ready, it’ll just...
IA: Can you talk about music, polyrhythms and how it affects you intellectually, spiritually, anatomically?
PC: Music...how that affects...oh, this is such a big question for me. Because I essentially grew up in music. My dad was a musician, he was a pianist and he had a band. He studied classical piano for several years and went into jazz, he loved all kinds of music. I was raised in music, but unfortunately I didn't really hone into the musician aspects of myself, which I wish I did, because I love it so much. I really did get into it late with percussion, but it's such a big, big aspect of my upbringing. Music is always something that's very difficult for me to talk about because it's one of the most...it's one of the most natural things that I could digest into my body. As a feeling it...there's so many different kinds of music, so I can't necessarily say that it gives me one kind of feeling, because it gives me so many different kinds of feeling depending on what it is that I'm listening to. It gives you a whole different experience...that is the beauty of music - it gives you several different experiences. That's a very loaded thing in itself and I find it very difficult for me to break that apart, spiritually emotionally, it's all together for me. It's not something that is that is separate, It's all together. Polyrhythms? When I teach a workshop, I sometimes focus on polyrhythms. I'll do an exercise on it...it's very interesting to see how difficult it is for the body to accept two different rhythms going at the same time. It's really interesting. But then it's also very exciting seeing someone go from ‘this is crazy for my brain’, to ‘wow, this is making so much sense for my brain because I hear and I can listen to the music, I can adjust the music, I've practiced this, I've separated the body parts, OK, this is linking to this, this is linking to that’. I would say it's not an easy thing to digest if you are being taught a rhythm, but I do think there are many people who naturally express polyrhythms without even noticing that they’re doing polyrhythms. If you're just dancing, you're probably doing several different polyrhythms. I think it’s a natural thing to do. But when something is imposed on you...it becomes very difficult for your body, when actually it’s a very natural thing to do.
IA: You’re teaching weekly sessions at The Place this autumn. I was wondering what is that like? How are you as a teacher, as a sharer of knowledge? What are the things that you want to leave behind?
PC: Hmm, good question. Before I started teaching at The Place I didn't like the idea of me doing a regular class. I actually found myself against it a lot of the time...but I love to teach workshops. I always approach a workshop as if I wanted to give these people several different tools that they can use to improve their dance, but also improve how they are in general as artistic human beings. It's so important because those things are together. One is not separate from the other. Being an artist and a human is the same, how you live is your art and vice versa. When I approached a workshop I would always hone in to that...these tools and making sure that they themselves individual people and artists can really understand how to bring that out of themselves, because sometimes it's dormant, and then how to really champion it and grow it. With classes I always felt like they were fleeting and very draining of the body - especially for the teacher. So how I approach a class is how I would approach a training session for myself. I've noticed that some teachers will give, give, give, give, and it will leave them bone dry. I think if you if you want to keep developing yourself, then you can't get bone dry, you still have to have juice. Approaching your class as a training session...of course, it's still focused on the student, you're still focused on the student. They come here, they've paid their money, they have invested in class because they want to learn, this is very important. So it's not just about the teacher, but in order to give you still need to have something for yourself. It's about building a relationship of training - I give them a little, they give me a little on a consistent basis. I still give them some tools. I give them a few tools that they could take away and then I give them...how could you take these tools into your body? That's how I approach my regular class and now I'm starting to really enjoy it and embrace it and I think my students enjoy that as well. Because if they see you enjoy it, then they will also feel the joy themselves.
IA: What is your relationship to your archive? How do you document what you do and what is the legacy you want to leave behind?
PC: It's really interesting because I never really documented a lot at the beginning, I never did. I would practice and that would be that moment. I wouldn’t film it, record it, nothing. Just at certain times and then maybe I'll delete it. I'm not sure why. I didn't feel the need. Even when Instagram became more the thing and more people started to post and use this, I still never really did that. I would say it's only been since the last two years or so I've posted some things of my art. However, I would say it's the last four or five years, I've been filming myself - all of my training sessions. What I hope to do with that is to look back and to chop them up and put all the bits that I relate to into one very long documentation of my movement - things that I want to remember. Usually I just film. I did go through a phase where I'd write about what I've done, but not for very long. I think I prefer filming and watching what I've done and then letting that be and moving on to my next session. In terms of the work that I do with other people, I don't even have copies of the work that I've done with them. Not many, a few. I have copies of some things that I've started for myself, but not many. Since last year again...now that I'm older...maybe this has come with maturity...I'm not sure...taking on more responsibility...but now I feel it's absolutely necessary for me to have copies of work that I've done. At least have the copy so that I can put it forward for something or show to other people or put on my social media, on my website.
IA: There's a lot of conversation around environmentalism, sustainability, climate change...big world issues. We're taught through this capitalist structure to always want more - bigger, better, faster. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on how degrowth and slowness manifests itself in your practice and Hip Hop?
PC: I would say that I don't relate to the word of degrowth. I don't relate to degrowth because for me, there's always growth even within slowness and sometimes the growth is faster within slowness than when it is fast, or in real time. Slowness is something that I am really honing into at the moment, slowing down as an artist...I have done so much this year...I've always been very on the ball and going around doing things, but I'm really trying to zone into what it means to be slow, but still grow. Because I find myself burning out a lot and that doesn't help me. It doesn't help the people that I work with in the future or for anybody who's around me. I want to put that in there, because I think it's very important to slow down, but know that slowing down doesn't necessarily mean that you are degrowing or not growing, but resting, reading and writing. In terms of the environment, sustainability and the importance that it has to me, it has such a big importance in my life. I am vegan. There are a lot of people who claim to be vegan these days, but they don't really know what that means, it is a way of life. Through veganism I have been introduced to what it means to really look at our planet and know how much destruction we have caused as people on this planet. And also, what it means as an artist to play my part in creating art that supports it. This is something that I want to do a lot for the future, I am planning to take my art and infuse it with what this means. I don't know how I'm going to do that yet, but I know that I'm going to do it, whether it be through movement, music or words. Maybe a mixture. I know I want to do that with Hip Hop as well, because I think it brings communities together. Once you have communities together, many great things can happen. Within the Hip Hop community, we don't really focus on things such as sustainability and the environment and we should be able to focus on things. This is something I really want to go into more as an artist in the future. It's a very big deal for me. It's very difficult for me to talk about because I haven't delved deeper into it just yet from an artistic point of view, but as somebody who really...who has researched it as a person on this planet, there are several things that I do for myself to make sure that I'm not catering towards the degrading planet, which is related to the environment and sustainability. It's very important to me and in the future I'll be doing projects that support it. I want to put this out there...I would like to see more of the Hip Hop community embrace...because fashion is such a big importance within the community, it would be great if we could see more Hip Hop artists either be sponsored by sustainable fashion brands or for us as artists to do the research to still be dripped in amazing gear, but amazing gear that supports a cause. There are several different things that we can do within our community that can support the cause whether that goes to fashion brands, the way we run events - even not wasting water - using solar power while we’re running an event. It's a little bit more expensive, but in the long term, it plays its part. Creating events that help to educate people, what these topics mean, in a fun way. It could be a battle based on the environment and have themes that run through it that helped to educate people on it.
IA: Is there anything that you want to talk about or have recorded that we've not touched upon so far?
PC: No, I don’t think there is...there isn't anything I want to put down, I will just say that there are things that I'm going to be working on for the future which I hope will make a difference to not only my sub community but also the greater community...be on the lookout for that.
IA: There's a video that I saw of you and Yvonne Smink, and it said, you made this five-minute pole work in an hour. It would be interesting to hear you talk a little bit about that, because that's a collaboration that you don't often see.
PC: It was very random. It was in January and I was in France because I was doing a podcast over there, speaking on artists and wellness and what that means, and I was with Yvonne. She works in her own studio, and she was like, ‘let's train for a bit’. She taught me some moves on the pole and I absolutely fell in love with the pole. It is phenomenal. It is not easy, but it is amazing. She was like, ‘oh, maybe we can create something’. And I was like ‘yeah, sure, let's do it’. So we did it, and we put on any random music, we got to the pole, ‘oh, we can do this, we could do that’. Fusing her abilities with mine. Then we was like, ‘we should, we should just get somebody to film it’. Her friend was coming over, Ashton...he's also an amazing artist, he came and he filmed it for us after we put together. It took us about an hour or so and that that was it. I think we were able to make it because she's so open minded and I'm very open minded. I guess when you're with somebody who's willing to try things, regardless of whether it makes sense, or not...you don't worry about whether people will like it or not, it's not important. It's more about, ‘let's create and see what happens in the moment’. You can create so much amazingness. I think that's essentially what happened. I love what we created and it felt like we created a mini show. [laughs]
IA: This is a nerd question. What is it that you really nerd out on about popping? What are the absolute micro details that really gets you excited about it?
PC: I don't think I've ever nerded out on a specific thing. However, what I am very interested in is...I feel it's the bone structure for many other dance styles. I see it as the...almost the ballet to a lot of other styles, like it's hard to shape or mould, or, improve the texture of other styles and the presentation of that. I'm intrigued by the mechanics of that, but also the anatomy of the body and how and why it does this for the dance style itself, but also for the other dance styles. That's what I'm super interested in at the moment and I've always been interested in the anatomy of it.
IA: This period of COVID has been super heavy - lots of anxiety, lots of mental health, lots of death for people in the community. As an inversion to that, could you talk about some of the kindnesses that you've received from popping, Hip Hop and the community?
PC: I know that a lot of friends have done free workshops online, through their Instagram Live or through Zoom. You could pay by donation, if you didn't have any money you could just go for free, and that was to help with people's mental stability at the time because people were going through a craziness. I would say that has been amazing. Not just me, but for everybody. I know that a lot of governmental funds were available to artists at the time and it wasn't super hard to get. In my opinion, they weren't very difficult to get and therefore that's great that they were able to support artists with some funds to tide them over with their rent and things. What other things? I think people really took a look at themselves and had certain realisations, researched things about their realisations and then they may have come to me or to other people to have discussions about these realisations. I think this is amazing, because I know a lot of people who have done that to me, who have been very private people, some could even say ego driven, and that's helped to knock that down and has enabled to them to really reach out to other people. People have been very accepting of that. I would say this idea of listening...COVID has helped people to listen more and to see more, whether that is online or not. There's been a lot of support across different kinds of communities because we were all put in the same boat and once you're put in the same boat, you can be like, ‘oh, wow, OK, we're here. Well, we were apart and now we’re sitting together’. I would say organisations have been more willing to be giving their space to us. So now being out of COVID they've been more giving in terms of space, let's give these people the space to present something. Let's highlight these groups of people and give them a space to do something. When I mean these groups of people, a subcategory of people with within a subgroup of people, I don't want to say a specific name, but I think you understand what I mean. I've been seeing a lot of that, a lot of giving and a lot of listening, which has been great.
IA: What is your strongest memory of dance?
PC: Oh my god! I would have to say when I was in India...I was teaching a workshop and the people who took my workshop...first of all the conditions I taught in weren’t amazing. They weren't the most sanitised conditions, but it was home for them; I was originally supposed to teach a workshop for one and a half hours and I went on for at least three hours because they were there, in that space with me, eager to learn. They wanted to learn and they were genuine with that. I really felt that and I will never forget that space, that energy and how much love and appreciation they showed me as an artist but also as a human being. They gave me an amazing gift of a statue of their of their dancing God. I nearly cried because it was presented to me in a shoe box, a broken-down shoe box and inside was this beautiful statue. I was like ‘this is incredible’. I will never forget that and they started crying because they were so thankful. This was probably the most memorable thing for me.