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Aligned with our theme of “Indulging in the Culture" to honor Black History Month, I attended the premiere of Memphis Jookin’: The Show Friday night at the Orpheum Theatre. This original production featured dance artist, Lil Buck, as he paid homage to his hometown, Memphis. Jookin' is a dance technique that originated in Memphis during the 80's.
I love that the tour premiered in such an iconic venue, The Orpheum. It’s important that our culture is showcased in beautiful venues and is valued as art. Because Jookin’ is just as artistic as ballet, tap, and any other dance form. The show was phenomenal and Memphis AF! They took the audience down memory lane paying homage to the legendary DJ Spanish Fly and his contribution to creating gangsta music mixtapes. My favorite part of the evening was the throwback rendition of Crystal Palace skate nights. From the music, to the disco ball, and a few of the performers actually roller skating on stage, it created the ultimate nostalgic setting of Memphis in the 90's. It felt like I was on those hardwood floors at the Palace watching a live Jookin battle! Oh wait. I was watching a live Jookin battle! Out of nowhere the performers came to the front of the stage, asking the audience, "What hood you from?" Screams of NORTH, SOUTH, MOUND came from the crowd. Two sets of dancers battled each other, representing North Memphis and South Memphis. They were gliding across the stage and breaking ankles left to right.
The show also had a few tear jerking moments as the youngest cast member shared her experiences with the dance team and how much it mean to be living out her dreams at 16. Another soloist did a tribute to his late father ,OG Willie, who introduced him to the art of jookin. Lil Buck also performed with a video playing in the background describing his passion for the dance community in Memphis. He jokingly shared how he first saw Jookin at the crystal palace and how OG dancers critiqued his work saying his moves weren’t “gangsta” enough.
But with grind + grit, in true Memphis fashion, Lil Buck has perfected his art and is sharing his love for Jookin across the nation. Be sure to follow his IG and check out the tour’s website so that you won’t miss the opportunity to see this showcase in person!
By Janessa - Blogger, Plug901
February 15, 2021
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