For anyone worried that women are underrepresented in street dance, meet Amy “Catfox” Campion. Her unique training background ranges from tango to breakdancing and modern dance—not to mention her MFA in choreography from U.C.L.A.! Plus, she’s performed with Rennie Harris and hip-hop crew BYC. Now she’s the artistic director of Antics Performance, an L.A. troupe dedicated to merging hip hop and theater. In October, Campion and partner Jacob “Kujo” Lyons hosted the fierce J.U.I.C.E Hip Hop Dance Festival, and this month, Campion debuts a hip-hop version of The Nutcracker! Clearly, Campion likes to dig into many genres and does so with passion and intelligence. For more Catfox, read on. —LK
DS: What are your thoughts on women in hip hop? Amy Campion: Women have a unique experience when they participate in male-dominated street dance. You have to have guts to step into that realm. Originally I wanted to be a breaker, not an anomaly or a role model. But when a young girl sees a woman perform in hip hop, she sees that it’s possible, and I noticed that they were inspired by me. That message is important.
DS: Tell us about your version of Nutcracker. AC: The Los Angeles County Arts Commission wanted a hip-hop version of the classic to be performed on Christmas Eve along with two other dance shows. So, for my take on it, the Nutcracker is a B-boy, Drosselmeyer is a locker, Clara is a B-girl and they all have to battle the B-boy Mouse King in a cypher, or dance circle. Even the Christmas tree is involved—the tree is actually a Popper! It’s the classic story but told in a hip-hop way.
DS: What’s your advice for aspiring hip-hop ladies? AC: If you are mostly dancing in a studio, seek out the history of the original styles and learn about breaking and locking, both in books and by going to freestyle at clubs or parties. Also, take hip hop seriously. There’s a technique that’s just as specific as jazz or ballet. Many people have devalued this, so we need to work hard to be advocates for it. Hip hop is as powerful and expressive as any classical form.