Cypher - space, meaning and movement in Breaking / Université Paris Nanterre

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Friederike Frost - Speaker

Cypher - space, meaning and movement in breaking

This paper explores culture-specific teaching methods for cultural practices such as breaking within a formal education setting, instancing the course “Breaking for school” at the German Sport University Cologne within Sport Teacher Education.
Breaking emerged as element of hip-hop culture in the 1970s in post-industrial New York City (Pabon 2012). It is realised in the cypher, which is the dominant space in hip-hop culture, carries various definitions as symbolic space and can be described as the “field of practice” (Schatzki, 2002 in: Schäfer, 2016). It creates the space for exchange and competition (Johnson, 2009), and is the place where dancers embody and express cultural meaning (Hall 2013) through movement. Therefore, the cypher offers possibilities for a culture-specific teaching of breaking movements with aspects like each-one teach-one, agency, and low-hierarchy - it can transmit cultural meaning within a formal education context.
The analysis is based on practice theory and activity theory approach, literature research, field observation and expert interviews. Breaking is considered as cultural practice (Rose 1994), apparent through meaningful movement, realised within the “field of practice”, the cypher. Cultural traditions of African diaspora are discussed as basic principles of movement aesthetic, realisation, meaning and space; reinterpreted by contemporary influences (Rose 2014; Schloss 2009) and global circulation.
Keywords: breaking, cypher, movement and meaning, dance education, cultural practice

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Schloss, Joseph Glenn (2009): Foundation. B-boys, b-girls, and hip-hop culture in New York. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

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