McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Aissa Llontop

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Major and Classification

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

  • Anne McKnight, Ph.D.

Department

  • East Asian Languages and Cultures

McNair Project

From the Bronx to Tokyo: Hip-Hop Dance Connecting Japanese Youth

Hip-Hop culture originated in the Bronx during a period when jobs and social programs were scarce and poverty was widespread. Breakdancing, Hip-Hop's physical art form, allowed for individual expression and community narratives. This study explored breakdancing's global appeal by investigating native-born Japanese dancers and their relationship with Hip-Hop. Academic scholars have reinforced Hip-Hop an African American art form and argue that Hip-Hop's cultural appropriation has directed youth to portray stereotypical images of Black culture. Ten native-born Japanese Hip-Hop dancers were interviewed from Debbie Reynolds Studio for a one-on-one forty-five to ninety minute session. A translator was present to facilitate communication. Participants were asked to reflect on their personal history with Hip-Hop culture and what drove their participation in Hip-Hop dance. Results indicated that the dancer's initial interest in Hip-Hop started with their fascination in the culture's stylish fashion and then grew into a deeper understanding of Hip-Hop music, dance, and expression and of cultural appreciation. The findings implied that through the dance community, Hip-Hop fosters multi-racial social networks, cross-cultural communication, and cultural understanding.