Dancer and choreographer Melvin Louis has taken it upon himself to spread hip hop culture in Mumbai. This fortnight, the 25-year old founder and director of the institute Dance Inc will hold the two-week-long One Mumbai Dance Festival, in which he will conduct workshops in sub-genres of hip hop dance such as krumphop (krumping and hip hop), stomping, hip hop performed to dubstep and electronic music, locking, popping and tutting. Yes, you read correctly: tutting. We give you the low-down on the latest craze.
1. It’s all about dancing like the Egyptians – the deceased pharaohs to be precise.
The movement vocabulary of tutting is inspired by ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and drawings, in which the models position their hands and arms straight and flat. The style is named after the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, perhaps one of the earliest “tutters”, the term used for practitioners of the style.
2. It’s all about doing the right thing.
The tutter has to execute all the moves – which involve elbows, wrists, shoulders and fingers – with their limbs held at a 90-degree angle. What makes a good tutting routine? The criteria include formations, variations, transitions and fluidity of the moves. The easiest and most striking pose is the duck tut, in which the hand is bent at the knuckles to make the shape of a duck’s beak.
3. Bugs Bunny has had a hand in its popularity.
In one of the more popular tutting videos on the web, the hare tries to pass himself off as an Egyptian king by tutting in the cartoon A Hare Grows in Manhattan (1947). One of the pioneers of tutting, Mark Benson, who goes by the name of King Tut, is said to have been inspired by this video. Recently, the dance was seen in the closing credits of Step Up 3D, in which Jay Gutierrez aka JSmooth does a fabulous rendition of finger tutting for over three minutes in one long, amazing take.
4. It’s magic of the practical kind.
“Arms are used to make illusions,” said Louis, who first saw the group JabbaWockeeZ present the style in the first season of the US television series America’s Best Dance Crew. “The quicker you go, the better the illusion,” he said, adding that tutting should leave the viewers gasping, “How did that happen?” Initially, he said, the “notion of tutting was that it was limited, that you can’t do much with it.” But then, he added, “groups like Jabba WockeeZ and Kaba Modern mastered tutting and went superfast with it. They showed that one could fuse it with other styles and there is scope to experiment.”
5. It won’t hurt you.
Since the movements are centred on the arms, it is often used by dancers as a breather from vigorous dancing. “All you have to remember is the flow of the movements,” said Louis. The challenge, however, is to cope with the pace and the continuous flow of the steps. “You have to give a robotic feel to the movements,” he said.
By Suhani Singh on December 02 2011
Photos by Tejal Pandey