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Space, authenticity and utopia in the hip-hop teen dance film

Woods, F. ORCID: (2016) Space, authenticity and utopia in the hip-hop teen dance film. In: Evans, M. and Fogarty, M. (eds.) Movies, Moves and Music: The Sonic World of Dance Films. Genre, Music and Sound. Equinox, Sheffield, pp18. ISBN 9781845539580

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The dance film flourished in the 2000s in the form of the hip-hop teen dance film. Such films as Save the Last Dance (Thomas Carter, 2001), Honey (Billy Woodruff, 2002) and Step Up (Anne Fletcher, 2006) drew on hip-hop’s dominance of the mainstream music industry and combined the teen film’s pre-existing social problem and musical narratives. Yet various tension were created by their interweaving of representations of post-industrial city youth with the utopian sensibilities of the classical Hollywood musical. Their narratives celebrated hip-hop performance, and depicted dance’s ability to bridge cultural boundaries and bring together couples and communities. These films used hip-hop to define space and identity yet often constructed divisions within their soundscapes, limiting hip-hop’s expressive potential. This article explores the cycle’s celebration of, yet struggle with, hip-hop through examining select films’ interactions between soundscape, narrative and form. It will engage with these films’ attempts to marry the representational, narrative and aesthetic meanings of hip-hop culture with the form and ideologies of the musical genre, particularly the tensions and continuities that arise from their engagement with the genre’s utopian qualities identified by Richard Dyer (1985). Yet whilst these films illustrate the tensions and challenges of combining hip-hop culture and the musical genre, they also demonstrate an effective integration of hip-hop soundscape and the dancing body in their depiction of dance, highlighting both form’s aesthetics of layering, rupture and flow (Rose, 1994: 22).

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:47804

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