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RIZE

This occasionally hair-raising documentary explores an underground street-dancing movement in South Central LA. Performed at baffling speeds and making limbs flex like rubber bands, "krumping" is an evolving mix of hip-hop bravado, African rhythms, and Wild OnĖstyle booty shaking. The movementís father figure, a black birthday clown named Tommy Johnson, wanted to create a positive outlet for kids raised in the shadow of the Rodney King race riots. His followers paint their faces, discover a much-needed sense of family, and stage spontaneous dance battles to release aggression and creativity. A big showdown between the Clowns and the Krumpers in the (not so) Great Western Forum is the only set piece in this spontaneous, grittily shot piece of vérité. Lauded by audiences at Sundance 2005, Rize uncovers a fascinating alternative to hip-hopís tired-ass clichés, even if the connection between the impoverished kids and the oppression implied by the title isnít always clear. Perhaps thatís a lot to expect from slashie director David LaChapelle, whoís best known for his ultra-kitschy celebrity photography. He ends this encouraging debut with some glimmering music-video footage, announcing (or perhaps expediting) the arrival of krumping into the mainstream. Only time, or box-office receipts, will tell.

BY CHRIS WANGLER

Issue Date: July 1 - 7, 2005
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