Becky Hurt, 30, is a “Master Teaching Artist” at Eveoke Dance Center in North Park, at present teaching hip-hop dance. She is self-described as having, “naturally brown hair. Also, I’m only 5’ 3”, but I dance tall. I have tattoos, the most prominent of which is a huge ballerina painting on my arm.” We had two long telephone conversations over the weekend, follows is what she said.
“A hip-hop dance class is not hip-hop. Hip-hop started out as this spontaneous thing that became this mass-produced marketed thing.
“Eveoke is pretty special. It’s catered to less mainstream hip-hop and more to intention-based movement. We get a wide variety of people. I have boys who are 10 and 11. They’re awesome. They have a single mother who takes them around. I have physical therapists who come and take it for fun. I have one older lady who takes it because she wants to get better at learning choreography. And then I have people who are studying hard to be dancers as a profession.
“I was born in San Diego, started dancing when I was four or five. My mom was really cool about putting us in lots of different arts, and we got to choose what we liked. Dancing is what stuck. My father is a computer scientist. I have two sisters, both older.
“I’ve done ballet, I’ve done jazz, I love tap, but there’s not a lot out there. I’ve done modern — that’s the company I’m in now. I’ve done hip-hop. I’ve taken West African. I’ve taken flamenco. The one thing I haven’t taken is ballroom.
“I went to the School of Creative and Performing Arts and studied dance there. And then I was in the Unity Dance Ensemble for seven years. It’s one of the most contemporary jazz dance companies in San Diego. Very, very athletic dancing.
“I got into hip-hop when I was a teenager. I started breakdancing when I was 17 or 18, went out with a breakdancing crew and learned from them. There is so much more available now, classes and stuff. There didn’t used to be —you just went to the club and tried out your moves and looked around.
“Hip-hop is a way of life for a lot of people. It’s a culture, and it’s about the music and the relationship between the music and the movement. It comes from inside.
“In ballet there’re written rules, and they have lots of names for moves. Hip-hop is different: it’s what people come up with, it’s your interpretation with a certain swagger or style. When it comes to the dance part, there are certain things — criteria — that get you respect. There’s rhythm and having your own individuality or soul. There’s also humor. Some dancers don’t understand — they’ll just dance and throw a bunch of tricks in there. If you don’t have the musicality, people who are true hip-hop dancers will know.
“There are a lot of different styles within hip-hop. It started out as B-boying, now more known as breakdancing. But there’s so much more because hip-hop is different from person to person. Certain moves became staples. Ballet has classical ballet and Balanchine. There’s modern, there’s Martha Graham, there’s Horton. It’s the same with hip-hop.
“Last night, I had a rehearsal for a hip-hop show that we’re doing at Culture Shock. I dance at Culture Shock as well as Eveoke. We rehearse for four hours, very structured, trying to get one person’s style. That’s all a hip-hop class is, getting that teacher’s style. After rehearsal, I went out to the club and danced. I still dance for fun, after class.
“It’s downtown, and it’s more underground than the other clubs where girls are in heels. I go in there in my sneakers, and there’s always a circle that happens. There’s always a battle, and the music is good.
“There’s a competition vibe, like a battle zone, but when I go it’s less of a battle and more of, ‘show us what you got, and we’ll appreciate it.’ Sometimes I pull out completely clever, witty stuff. Sometimes I get a reaction that surprises me, like last night. Going into the circle, I don’t know what I’ll do. I just know I don’t care about anyone else when I’m out there. I’m not trying to impress. I think that’s the biggest thing, when people are going out there trying to impress and worried they’ll miss it, they’ll miss the moment. It’s all about being in the moment.”
Eveoke can be found at 2811 University Avenue, Culture Shock at 2110 Hancock Street, and Becky Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org.