Brian “Footwork” Green
How would you describe house dance? Where did it came from?
It is a dance that is a collective between Chicago and NY! What is known as House dance today is NY’s evolution. But the essence is a vibe and dance called Jacking, which is out of Chicago. NY, did Jacking different, and evolved it.
Who were your influences? What is is the philosophy of your own style?
My influences were Damien, who taught me a style that we know call SKATING!! And Rhasheem (Spanky), taught me how to use my body along with my feet!!
Putting their two influences together, added with many rhythms from African and Tap, makes the philosophy of my interpretation in the House culture. It is hard for a person to have a style. They can have their own interpretation of a style. But, as they say, House is House, Tap is Tap, Bboying is Bboying, and so on and so on!!
Many people in Europe know of course You, then E-Joe, Terry and Hiro (Japan). Can you tell any other dope house dancers that people should check out?
Well, there are many in the House culture. I won’t say there many “House dancer”, the original name are Club heads, or Jackers. But, here are names that are popular in the House culture that people can search for. First, there are the people that were before the people that you just mentioned. These are their names:
Frankie Thomas, Khaheem, Snake, Junior, Aristead, Anthony, Blue, Asia, Ron Paisley, Voodoo Ray, Damien, Mike, Fenz, Eric, April, Cheryl, Barbara Tucker, Willy Pinedo, and me (I was more a watcher then, piecing things together!!) and many more. But these are the ones that were crazy in the mid 80s to later 80s. Some were House heads, and some were Lofters. There is a difference in the styles. But, they influenced the ones in the later 80s, that mixed the styles!!
Later 80s: Caleaf, Peter Paul, Ramir, Story, Spanky, Marjory, Kim, Johnny, Jay, Rob, Sean, Dave, Eon, Keith Williams, Franz, Link, Shannon “Which Way ” Sha, Toni McGregor, me (I was dancing now!), and more. But, these were the main ones.
Early 90s: Ejoe, Chris Sawyer, G-Off, Shan S. Gene, and more.
Mid-90s: Shan S.,
Mid to Later 90s: Terri, Mike, Justice, Step Fenz, Joey, Mushay, and some others.
Late 90s till 2000: Hiro, Lenny, and others.
These are all the ones that were getting coming in, in those years. The ones that stayed around, and still are popular now, and still performing or teaching in the House culture are:
Caleaf, Ejoe, Marjory, Shan S., Shannon “Which Way” Sha, Toni McGregor, Terri, Link, Kim, and me. The rest of the names, some are dead, and the others just stopped dancing!!
How did you like event called Juste Debout in France which has now grown to the biggest house, newstyle, poppin and locking battle in the Europe?
Well, any event that supports and respects the true history and various cultures and aspects of dance is good. I know the guy that runs Juste Deboute. His name is Bruce. He is a friend of mine, as well as one of my students. He was known in France before I met him in the mid 90s as a Popper.
Also, I know in Europe, people love the word “newstyle”. Here it is just called ” Hip-hop”, and that is it. Focusing on the party dances in Hip-hop, that have names.
How about battles? Can you tell us about any memorable battles that you’ve had in past years?
Well, in the House culture, which is still being evolved and learned by many, I can’t say that I really have had any battles, that I can talk about. I am always exchanging mainly with the people: Shannon “Which Way ” Sha, Toni McGregor, or Shan S., and sometimes Caleaf. But, I have known them for many years, so, I can’t call that a battle.
My only memorable battle was against my own teacher named Spanky, in 1989. I have had battles since then, but, this was the most memorable. He burned me bad the first one, and then I tied him a couple of weeks later. But, man!! That first battle, he beat me so bad, I remember checking to see if I made a sweat, because it was so fast. I didn’t even think I danced!!!
Very often people think hiphop dances are more of dance studio oriented, and mainly choreographical dance. Dances for the music videos and so on. Do you think it is important to hiphop dancers to represent in battles and circles aswell?
Hip-hop culture is made off the communication with others in the streets! Meaning; block parties, clubs, events, etc.. So, that is the main thing. Hip-hop is a culture, so, just like any other dance, that started out of the streets, elements of it can be brought to the studio. But, to see any dance in its true form, you have to go where it is done; THE STREETS! Of course representing in a circle or battle is needed, cuz that is the essence of it.
Music Videos, are more focused on making money, and making the singer look good. It is not focused on Hip-hop. Most of the choreography in videos that people think are hip-hop, are mostly basic contemporary jazz movements, with what people think are hip-hop looking clothes on the dancers. It’s not real hip-hop at all.
Can you tell about your own event in New York, the House Dance Conference?
House Dance Conference was created and financed by me and some friends. Business wasn’t so good with those friends, and I went into financial ruin in 2001. Luckily two of my other friends noticed, helped me out, and kept the conference going with me while I tried to regain myself in Los Angeles. So from 2001 till now, the House Dance Conference is Ulli Maier, Ray “Spex” Abbiw, and myself.
House Dance Conference was created to hopefully bring education about the various histories and techniques that are in various cultures in the vast word: DANCE! In the Conference we bring the audience originators or innovators in various styles of dance. We also have a dance contest every two or three months in the year, within these 5 styles: House, Popping, Locking, Breakin, and Hip-hop!! Our performers have ranged from: Samba, West African Dance, Breakin (Full Circle), Don Campbell, Boogaloo Sam, Anna ” Lollipop ” Sanchez, Flomaster, Klown, World Soul, Step Fenz, Voguers (Willi Ninja, Archie Bernett), Lofter (Bravo), Frankie Thomas, and many more dancers and some singers.
How do you like the scene in Japan and Europe?
Well, I think, just like Juste Deboute. Anything that is supporting this big word called: DANCE!! It is all good with me. Of course, since they learn from the U.S., they are going to get the good and the bad stuff. So, they are going to make the same mistakes! Which is what I have been seeing. But, this is life!!
In your opinion, what makes dancer a good dancer?
A good dancer in my opinion, is one that can stay in time with the music, and hopefully show you things in the music that you have never heard before. Also, a good dancer to me, is one that can take you through a journey while they dance, and make you understand who they are, as well as make you understand something about yourself. Lastly, a good danceer, or better yet, a great dancer, is someone that can make their dance seem void of lessons. Meaning, when he or she dances, you can’t tell where they got there information from. They have learned their lessons and mixed them up with their own creativity so well, that they no longer look like their teachers. Unless they want to.
How about urban dance styles as jazzrock (be-bop, swing), are they in any connection with house dance?
Any dance before another, coming out of the same country, music evolution, and people, are going to have a connection.
What are your most memorable moments of your dance career?
Most memorable moment of my career was dancing in a Festival called Tappin in the Twin Cities, where I got to meet and share the stage with people like: The Nicholas Brothers, Jeni Legon, Bunny Briggs, Cookie, the late Busta Brown, Van “the Man” Porter, and many more Hoofers.
Other memorable moment of my career, was the first party of the House Dance Conference. Because I hadn’t seen all my friends and influence (new and old) under roof ever in my whole life, until that day. The dance was on some of the highest level of dancing that I have ever seen.
What is your inspiration to continue dancing? Where do you get most inspiration?
GOD IS MY INSPIRATION!! GOD gives me the talent, so I have no choice to use it. It calls me and I answer to it everyday. Also, teaching the youth, and watching them give back some of the most creative things, keeps me dancing. Also, performing with my friends, and seeing the new things they have added to their dancing. Traveling around the world, and seeing what people do with the dances we show them. As well as seeing the dances that they have in their own country, keeps me dancing as well.
Word is free. Shoutouts etc.
KEEP DANCING!! Keep your heart in it! Respect all, the way you would want respect for you and your family. Try to stay positive in life, because life and dance is connected. Love yourself and love others. Pass all you know to others, so that they can understand the love you have for what you do. Then, when they learn it, they will pass it, respectfully and honestly, with their added talent and love along with yours. GOD BLESS ALL!!