Jorge “Popmaster Fabel” Pabon is a 50-year-old choreographer ( a leader of Rock Steady Crew), documentary filmmaker and teacher at NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing has been dancing for decades.
So Fabel is an ambassador of Hip-Hop traveling the world to promote hip-hop and teach young people the roots of a cultural language that he says has been co-opted and corrupted by the music industry.
In Hong Kong, Fabel is a guest instructor at the School of Hip-Hop, a nonprofit organization that is part of the Hong Kong social work group Youth Outreach. The group began offering 24-hour counseling and shelter to runaways and at-risk youth in Hong Kong in 1991, and since 2002 has made hip-hop a pillar of its mission to engage thousands of otherwise disaffected young people with a constructive outlet for their energy.
The Youth Outreach center, a building more than 30 years old that’s adorned with colorful graffiti by students and guest artists. Fabel offers tips on footwork and balance even as he shares details of the origins of the routines. “This is a dance I created with Mr. Wiggles,” he says, referring to a Rock Steady colleague known for his popping prowess.
Dance is the most popular aspect of the program, says Chacha Kong, the School of Hip-Hop’s senior instructor, but DJing, MCing and graffiti have their places as well. It isn’t lost on the group that the dynamic in the U.S. that prompted the development in hip-hop applies to young people elsewhere, decades later.
“Young people like hip-hop not just because it is ‘fashionable’ or ‘cool’ but because it encapsulates many disparate, deeper meanings,” writes Chan Ka Ling, Youth Outreach senior supervisor, in a monograph about the social group’s work. “Subscribing to and promoting hip-hop culture implies challenging the status quo of the mainstream culture because it is precisely this mainstream culture which created this alienation in the first place.”
Fabel, who has previously been to Japan, Taiwan and mainland China, along with many other stops around the world, says the magnitude of hip-hop’s global spread from its humble origins rarely registers with him. He just keeps bouncing, from one place to another, wherever his dancing takes him.
“The music is always the truth,” he tells his students. “Don’t go ahead of it, don’t go behind it, stay in the pocket.”
info courtesy of www.wsj.com
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