Greg Li, aka G Wiz, taught a 3 hour workshop, Greasing the Groove with Greg: a Popping Drills Workshop, hosted by MIT Constructs this past Sunday. Greg has been training and competing in popping for over 12 years, with a focus in the styles of San Jose strutting and LA botting. I really appreciated how this workshop was taught for both its content and teaching style.
Popping is a really tough dance to teach even if you stick to certain styles or techniques. A typical dance class involves choreography, and a dope dance class helps dancers develop a deeper understanding of how to execute that choreography. Popping is little different because the details needed to understand basic movements of a highly-skilled teacher could easily take several classes. To actually attain that movement quality, could take several years, or even a couple of decades.
Greg’s approach was different from most popping classes I’ve gone to so far and in a great way. It was oriented toward teaching drills and covering as many as possible. Greg even posted a curriculum days in advance so that people could mentally prepare themselves to absorb all the knowledge going into the class. Popping dance is very detail-oriented and any forewarning of information is appreciated by most people. If you are a beginner, this type of class could easily be overwhelming, but if you are seasoned with processing popping information, it could be extremely useful in understanding the styles covered. I missed the very beginning of the workshop as I was still being virtually connected to the room, but a disclaimer to an all-levels class would probably put more people at ease to absorb what they can.
The content of this workshop was broken down into 3 sections: botting, strutting, and waving. Each section had at least half a dozen drills dancers could use to refine their movements. This setup made it clear for dancers to be able to focus and distinguish one type of movement from the other. A lot of popping classes are left open-ended, where teachers ask the students what they would like to learn. Often, an all-levels class doesn’t know what they want to learn or even where to begin asking questions. However, Greg’s very structured workshop took away the guesswork and gave a review of each style’s foundational moves from top to bottom. Each style was solidly covered and one could develop their skills just using the tools taught in class.
There was a lot of content in this class. I was not standing up/drilling with everyone else, but I was actually writing the whole time because there was that much to write. I wish there had been more time for questions. However, with that much content to cover, it would be very tough to allot more Q&A time and stay within 3 hours, the peak of most dancer’s attention spans. There were short breaks in between sections but not many people asking questions, probably allowing their bodies to rest some.
As for teaching style, Greg nailed what I think is needed to teach popping most effectively. He drilled alongside his class but also corrected people as he watched them in the mirror. The subtle details within each style are really what make that style. Not only did Greg point them out, but he also taught drills to train those details as he went over the broader moves. For each style, Greg explained the feeling of the dance.
“Bring out your inner...pimp!”
As trivial as these statements might sound, these are the moments in class that bring in the cultural aspect of popping to a technical environment. Describing the intention behind the moves not only allows dancers to better understand the creative processes of OGs, but also allows them to build on those moves more effectively with their own interpretations and swagger.
Overall, Greg created a great instructional experience for the Boston community and for a measly 10 dollars a ‘pop’. I’m very happy MIT Constructs was able to connect me.
-Karinna Olivia Vivanco