My high school friend & ex-roommate B-girl Nikki "Olopop" Guess said she could do our show, and found her friends Remedee and Yoda Laneski were available that day too. These dancing ladies were so much fun, I hope they like the way the show turned out.
When we shot this inteview, we hadn't yet found any video footage for Remedee or Laneski. But the show must go on, so we used the same clip we had of Olopop, dancing to another friend Jason Tom beatboxing. Each time we introduce a video for the other girls, in the studio that day, we just seen that same video, so when we make reference to the their videos, we're kinda just faking it. Sorry. That's showbiz.
Even after the shoot, due to scheduling & techno-snafus, we still had a hard time finding stuff. Finally, just a couple days before our Olelo deadline, Edna played some tricks & used her magic to put together some b-roll footie of Remedee & Laneski. Whew! Even though Edna doesn't say much in this episode, Shaka Talk would not happen without so much of her time & energy.
Shaka Talk #21 B-Girls (1 of 2)
Olopop was our first guest, and the other girls got kinda nervous when they heard my first question to her about having been homeless a while ago. Prior to the cameras rolling, I asked Olopop if I could mention homelessness. I'm so glad she said yes, because it's nothing to be ashamed of, and could happen to anyone. You might not even know if someone you work for, go to church or school with, or party at the same clubs with, has a place to stay.
When Olopop and I used to live together, people used to be so impressed with who my roommate was. A lot of them grew upp watching her on the old tv show "Breakin' Hawaii". This was back when hiphop was just starting to spread nationwide, and Cilly's nightclub (that used to be where Tatoolicious is now) used to have a show featuring local break dancers, poppers and lockers.
After years of dancing tap & ballet when she was a little girl, Olopop was at Makiki Park one day, was fascinated by this new style of dance the boys were doing, but they wouldn't let her dance with them. Then, at the Makiki Day festivities, Olopop got the director to overrule them, and made the boys let her go onstage when they did. Instead of letting her dance with them, the boys just gave her a solo spot, but that gave Olopop the chance to show people what she could do without the guys in her way.
She heard about Breakin' Hawaii on the last day of auditions, and made it there just in time to be accepted, and eventually a regular on the show.
Like I said, we didn't have video clips of Laneski or Remedee, so it's kind of a joke on set when we talk about what we just saw. But besides being a dancer, Laneski is also a champion surfer. The footage of her on the waves is actually compiled from other videos of her, that Edna slammed together fast kine.
Laneski used to dance with the Seattle Circuit Breakers in 1983, after being inspired by Michael Jackson moonwalking on tv. Back when she first started dancing, b-boys would laugh at the notion of "b-girls". Being female & white, she remembers all the ways people in society used to segregate themselves, and credits hip hop for being the reason we have someone of mixed race in the White House right now.
Remedee is "new school" compared to Olopop & Laneski, but has been a b-girling for over 8 years. Her generation is sometimes referred to as the "gold school" by earlier groundbreakers, because now that hip hop is part of mainstream culture, there aren't as many obstacles so younger dancers are able to capitalize on their talents. But Remedee acknowledges the contributions of those who came before, and feels "blessed" to have such great mentors as well as opportunities.
Shaka Talk #21 B-Girls (2 of 2)
Having to brake down so many boundaries during the unenlightened '80's, sparked an entreprenurial streak in Laneski. "It wasn't cool for girls to do active stuff." That's why she not only had to fight for respect as a dancer, but it also led to her creating the first pair of boardshorts for female surfers, "before Roxy." Now she runs her own clothing line called Us Girls, including the graffiti designed tank top she wears on the show.
Like the other girls, Remedee is also trained in other forms of dance. However, she didn't expect us to find the clip that finally made it to air. In the video that Edna found last minute, Remedee sings a tradtional Japanese song, that I hear is about a girl who burns down her house because she has a crush on a fireman. I could be wrong, but check out her shoes in the clip. It's just red rope tied around her feet kinda like "cat's cradle". Fierce.
The girls teach workshops at various places, including Diverse Arts Center. While showing us some basic moves, I lose a breast, but that doesn't deter from the lessons. We learn some upp-rock "the standing dance that you do before you get down on the floor." They also get into so ticking & tutting, locking & popping (which used to be referred to as boogaloo). After we get down on the floor, they challenge us to put what we learn together, and I'm surprised how well Edna and I do.
Finally, the girls treat us to a display of their skills. It's cool to see the different styles of movement, and the personal styles of each dancer. Thanks to Ted de Oliveira aka Front Business for providing some tracks to dance to.
2 days ago