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Pasadena learns to dance krump, but will it attract younger arts patrons? (Photos, Video)

Al Kamalizad

Dance students practice krump moves at the Pasadena Dance Festival. Krump dancing originated in Compton in 2001.

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Queen of Krump Miss Prissy, born Marquisa Gardner, co-founded krump dancing in 2001.

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Elizabeth Ceja, left, and Whitney DiAcri, right, on stage at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

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Nordhoff High School Dance Program student Taylor Koester, center, waits for her krump dancing class to begin. This is the first year the Pasadena Dance Festival featured the street dance.

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Students stretch as they prepare for a krump dancing class.

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Miss Prissy leads students in a warm up exercise ahead of her krump class at the Pasadena Dance Festival.

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Pasadena Dance Festival students line up to hug Miss Prissy, one of the co-founders of krump dancing, after taking a class with her at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

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Students from the Idyllwild Dance Academy perform during the Student Showcase Matinee on April 27. The Pasadena Dance Festival featured a variety of dance styles including modern, tap, tango, bollywood and krump.


With a string of performances and master classes in everything from ballet to African dance, the annual Pasadena Dance Festival attracts aspiring dancers and teachers from all over the West Coast.

This year it debuted something new: a class in krump dancing. The Compton street dance, with its signature chest pops and stomps, can appear almost violent to a first-time audience.

"We try to spice it up every year with something that makes people kind of raise one eyebrow," said Peggy Burt, a board member of the dance company that puts on the festival, Lineage Dance. 

Lineage didn't include the dance solely to expose young dancers to new forms of the art – it was also hoping to attract younger audiences.

"All throughout the country we find that the dance audiences are getting older," Burt said.

At more than $100 a seat, tickets for many dance performances are often too expensive for younger audiences.

"We're really trying to break down those barriers and make it affordable and make it accessible and really exciting for the young people who begin to not only dance themselves but be the dance audiences of tomorrow," she said. Tickets to the week-long event, which ended Saturday, were less than $100 and many participants received scholarships.

Miss Prissy and her dance company, The Underground, headlined at the festival. She described krump dancing this way: "It is a combination between African dance style movement and new age hip-hop."

Miss Prissy, whose real name is Marquisa Gardner, is one of krump's co-founders. She was featured in the popular 2005 documentary "Rize," which chronicled the dance's early years.

About 80 students participated in her class at the Pasadena festival. Many were teenagers who had seen the film and were excited to learn the dance from the source. 

Gardner spent 17 years training as a classical ballerina. She said krump offers kids a lot of life lessons.

"I feel like it's a life changing culture that can actually open your eyes up to embracing things that you never thought that you would really embrace about yourself," she said. 

Anna Hull and Deniek Turner, both 16, were visiting the festival from Idyllwild where they are both juniors in high school. They're ballet dancers, but said they got a lot out of the krump class.

"She was so fierce and so beautiful and – oh, my God – I almost died. I loved her," Hull said, without taking a breath.

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