Los Angeles Times features dance show started at USC Annenberg

By Krista Daly Student Writer

USC Annenberg showcased The Underground: From the Streets to the Stage last semester as the first street dance performed on stage. The live krump show is in the spotlight once again in an article the Los Angeles Times published recently.

Jessica Koslow, a 2012 graduate of the M.A. in Specialized Journalism (the Arts) program, explored krump for her thesis project leading to The Underground.

Through her research, she developed relationships with Marquisa Gardner (known by her stage name, Miss Prissy, pictured above) and Christopher " Lil’ C" Toler, two of the four founders of krump, which started locally in South Central Los Angeles. Koslow then produced a documentary about krumping for class about a weekly gathering of krump dancers in North Hollywood, and later wrote her thesis about it.

Krump’s origins lie in Miss Prissy’s and Lil’ C’s performances with Tommy the Clown, the pioneer of a clowning, which is a hip hop style of dance. They eventually created krump, incorporating bits of clowning.

“(Krump) is a combination of street dance elements and African dance,” Miss Prissy said. “We are reinventing history without us even knowing it. Just because we’re thousands of miles away from the motherland doesn’t mean the heart is.”

After krumping on the streets for years, Miss Prissy said she wanted to take the dance to the next level by performing on stage. Koslow helped make Miss Prissy’s dream a reality by approaching USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative about bringing krumping to the 1,235-seat Bovard Auditorium.

With faculty endorsement from Sasha Anawalt, director of USC's arts journalism programs and a longtime dance writer, Koslow applied for a USC Visions and Voices residency grant for Gardner and Toler in September. The result was panel discussions, crammed workshops and the launch of the company to cheering crowds.

Anawalt describes the duo's telepathic team-teaching ("they really don't have to talk to each other to understand what the other wants") and how their codification of krump's moves convinced her of its lasting potential. "If you can teach it, and you can give it to someone else, then it's a thing, it's a technique," she told the LA Times.