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Fashion photographer and music-video director David LaChapelle’s documentary about Krumping, the brutally physical, adrenalised street dance movement in South Central LA which rose, in the aftermath of the 1992’s Rodney King riots, from the Clowning movement. Yes, clowning as in painting the face and putting on big baggy clothes. Think rap face-to-face showdowns, but instead of spinning rhymes they do the most ridiculously amazing dances with their body, the court of audience opinion more often than not deciding the winner. Both clowning and now krumping are a leftfield response to deprivation and the added blight of the gang culture and originally allowed those who do it to pass unmolested from one gang district to another. Who’s going to challenge you for wearing the wrong colours when you’re wearing all the colours? Fighting fire not with fire but with a flower. Chappelle is good on the history of this recent phenomenon, talks to the right people and knows how to place a camera so as to catch some of the most amazing dancers seen on film since Fred Astaire and the Nicholas brothers hung up the top hat. Yes, he has the convert’s zeal and overdoes the “it’s tough in da hood” stories, but you can’t argue with those wildly exciting moves.

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© Steve Morrissey 2006

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