Dancer Discusses History of Hip-Hop


On Thursday, February 19, Duane Lee Holland held a hip-hop demonstration and talk at Brehmer Theater, open to scholars and dancers alike. The following day, he led a hip-hop workshop at Trudy Fitness Center for interested students and dancers. Visiting Assistant Professor of English Tanya Calamoneri brought him to campus. The two previously met while working together at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on a project called Dance Motion USA. The project aims to use hip-hop to bring different cultures together and raise social awareness.

“I’m actually completing my masters at the University of Iowa right now,” Holland said. “I was there with a teaching assistant as well as a former student, but I have been teaching for the past 21 years.”

Tanya was excited to bring Holland to campus, because she felt there was a lot Colgate had to gain from his teachings. Colgate has never had a class like the one Duane taught before.

“There are a lot of people on campus who are working in the idiom of hip hop, and as a dance scholar, it’s really important that people have context and background about the form that they are practicing,” Calamoneri said. “I met Duane through an arts diplomacy program and I knew him as a teacher, and I saw how good he is at technique, history, context, social activism, and it was important to me to have somebody like that on campus.”

During his talk on Thursday, Holland not only performed but also discussed the cultural significance of hip-hop.

“I definitely teach the history of hip hop, but at the same time it’s just making people aware that there is a history, one that hip-hop is being used as a way to bring cultures together, that there’s a certain type of focus as far as capitalizing on the superficial aspect of it, but being an artist, I call myself an entertainer, so I educate and entertain,” Holland said.

Over 40 students attended the workshop on Friday. Calamoneri is optimistic about the future of hip-hop education at Colgate.

“We’ve been talking a lot, we work with the Writing and Rhetoric department too because there’s a connection with Professor Campbell, who has been working with hip hop on campus, and there’s a class on hip hop so hopefully we’ll bring this together again in the future,” Calamoneri said.