“Krump. Get off”, on Explore: a trance state beyond dance

“If someone who has never seen a krump sees a person dancing krump intensely, it’s double or nothing

“Krump. Get off”, on Explore: a trance state beyond dance

“If someone who has never seen a krump sees a person dancing krump intensely, it’s double or nothing. Either he will say directly: “What is this crazy guy? Why is he so angry?” Either he’ll get excited and say: “Wow, that’s beautiful, there, he’s expressing something true.” »

This is how Lady Madskillz (Emilie Ouedraogo), one of the four personalities distinguished by director Romain Cieutat in this documentary, describes this offensive, daring dance, which sees red by stretching itself to the tips of the fingers.

Appearing in the early 2000s, in the ghetto of South Central, in Los Angeles (California), the krump, acronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise (“raising the kingdom through powerful praise”), overflowed the frame thanks to the film Rize, directed in 2005 by David LaChapelle, which many Krumpers have seen over and over again.

Explode the muscles

This is the case of Wrecker (Stael Isaya Wa), whose stage name juggles two meanings: “the tow truck” and “the destruction”. “These are two traits of my personality,” he explains. On the one hand, I am there for others, on the other, it is my blood aspect. » As in hip-hop, krump sublimates and formalizes the violence experienced by young people in Los Angeles. His very mixed writing contains, Wrecker recalls, hip-hop elements such as popping, which makes the muscles explode like popcorn, the break, but also classical dance and boxing steps.

Its specificity lies in the stomps, massive foot strikes, relayed by chest pops which make the chest throb strongly, and the wide arm games such as arm swings and jabs. The whole thing is punctuated by the buck faces, grimaces which underline how much the krump momentum pierces the body from top to bottom.

Through the portraits of Cyborg (Alexandre Moreau), JR Sniper (Germain Zambi), Wrecker and Lady Madskillz, who take us into the most intimate aspects of their daily commitment, we penetrate into the subtleties of the history of krump. Its structure as a “fam” (family), led by a “Big Homie”, a sort of father figure who brings together his circle of dancers in a positive spirit of work, of surpassing oneself, of solidarity, cements it.

“Apart from the gang culture, we also have a bit of this military side which has greatly influenced the “fam,” explains Cyborg. Each Big Homie has a style and passes it on to his Lil'Homies [little friends]..." Entry into a "fam" goes through an initiation: the "cage" during which a dancer competes in movement with everyone the group members.

The battle, a peaceful competition bringing together personalities from all over the world, accelerates the krumpers' cardio. Created in 2013, the International Illest Battle, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2023 in La Villette, Paris, is a broth of supercharged sensations that Romain Cieutat's immersive camera captures up close to the body. Supported by the screams of the audience, the dancers throw themselves into battle with devastating enthusiasm.

“It’s a state of trance that allows us to go beyond dancing,” says JR Snyper. As for Lady Madskillz, who won the Illest again in 2023, she sums up the battle beautifully: “It’s the volcano of life. »