Elsabet and Independent Hip Hop education

© Xiao Majunyang

Elsabet Yonas is a movement artist with a dance back ground in hip-hop. Her hip-hop experience in school and college was fairly non-existent regarding the syllabus. She attended an all girl’s catholic secondary school that offered dance as part of the P.E. Dance was taught by one of her P.E teachers and she can’t recall any hip-hop techniques, culture or historical context. After her GCSEs she left the school to attend a sixth form that offered dance as an A Level with the hope that she would have the opportunity to gain a dance qualification to support her dance training. The focus was heavily on classical ballet and contemporary techniques, which she enjoyed, but she felt there was no room for her to utilise her hip hop vocabulary within that space. She remembers there was an issue with her solo because the external examiner couldn’t comprehend the fusing of contemporary and hip-hop styles. Throughout both secondary school and college Elsabet kept her love for hip-hop alive by training outside of her school environments and separated the two experiences.

Now Elsabet currently teaches hip hop at a secondary school, college and at a university. Although the three groups are made up of students of different ages and abilities, her approach to teaching remains the same. Elsabet likes to ensure that she covers some history, drill foundations and basic grooves, develop freestyle and share her choreography. She adapts to the needs of the students by learning to understand what they need more or less of and caters her sessions to their needs. Elsabet likes to leave room for freedom of expression because at the core, this is what hip hop has been for her.

Elsabet thinks that hip-hop can be advanced and grown within the education system by firstly being included within the PE syllabus as a core style. Hip-hop should taught by tutors who have trained within hip-hop and have a strong understanding of the culture on a wider scale. Whether it is offered as a subject or as an extracurricular activity, it should be awarded the same respect as classical styles by having teachers from hip hop backgrounds leading the classes. This will in turn also help strengthen the profile of the hip-hop community outside of the education system.

Elsabet loves the inclusivity of hip hop, loves that it connects people and loves that it feels like an all-encompassing movement. She has seen her students grow from strength to strength, not solely in their physical understanding of the style, but in their confidence. The fluidity of expression and range of movement creates so much room for individuality in which can all be celebrated.

IG: Elsabetter
YT: Elsabet Yonas