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Krumping & Clowning

There's been lots of hype around krump dance. The first ever krumper, Russell, won Season 6 of So You Think You Can Dance. Krumping, a cross between hip hop, pop lock and, well, lots of freestyle, is the next big thing.

Tommy The Clown

Krumping is a free spirited form of dance where the body is allowed to move in its own natural motions with fluidity and free form. It is not necessarily a new form of dance, but it has slowly taken over the urban landscape for more than a decade. And who can we thank for this movement? Tommy the Clown, of course.

Thomas "Tommy the Clown" Johnson, a Detroit native, is considered the father of krump dancing. But he had to take a difficult road to get there. Tommy and his family moved to Los Angeles when Tommy was in his early teens. He fell into the wrong crowd and wound up spending five years in jail. When he was released, Tommy knew he did not want to continue on that path and decided to clean up his act. He took a job as a clerk typist. He continued this honest job for honest pay until 1992 when his life completely turned around in a way he never saw coming.

A co-worker asked Tommy to be a clown at her child's birthday party because he was so upbeat and fun. He agreed and not only was he reborn, but krumping was soon to follow. As Tommy the Clown, Tommy started a dance movement known as "clowning." He would go from party to party, entertaining kids, dancing and teaching them to dance. He soon realized that the kids would light up when they danced. It wasn't long before Tommy was a very popular entertainer - and someone for the kids to look up to - a leader.

When Tommy realized his influence with kids he made the decision to use it to encourage them to turn away from violence, gangs and drugs. He started a dance crew, "The Hip Hop Clowns," who would perform at parties with him.

Soon there were more kids who wanted to dance than there was room on Tommy's crew. So, Tommy began encouraging the kids to form their own crews. Of course, each crew claimed to be the best, so in 2002 Tommy began inviting crews to have battles at his (former) Tommy the Clown Academy. This is where the term "krumping" was first used.

King Of Krumping

Tommy is now considered the "King of Krumping" and the father of krumping after the style of dance that he inspired. Krumping is raw, it is natural, it is real and it is an expression of the body and spirit through the art of dance.

Video: Krump

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