Germaine Cheong wants to debunk a common misconception about hip hop. “Hip hop is a culture,” says the choreographer. “Some people mistakenly think of hip hop as the music or the dance.”
For the uninitiated, here’s the lowdown: hip hop originated in the Bronx in the late ’70s among American communities of African, Latino and Caribbean descent. It branched out into DJ-ing, MC-ing, graffiti art and dance to give underrepresented groups an outlet of self-expression and empowerment during a time of political struggle.
While breaking is often regarded as the OG dance style of the hip hop movement, it soon grew and morphed to adapt to the evolution of music through the generations. Today, it is not difficult to spot its fundamental moves – skate, roll, rock and bounce – living in dance steps you see in music videos from Doja Cat to BTS.
Cheong, who describes her interpretation of hip hop dance as “freestyle” has been practising the craft for a total of 15 years and has travelled the globe to conduct workshops and be part of judging panels in countries like Germany, Greece, Hungary, Australia, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
She’s even apprenticed with international dancers including Kato, a renowned dancer in Japan’s street and hip-hop dance scene and Mr Wiggles who’s performed with dance crews Rock Steady Crew and Electric Boogaloo in the States.
Now, the petite dancer who is known in the local dance scene as “Xiao Mei” has gone on to become an instructor at Recognize! Studios and in the interim spearheads an all-ladies dance event The Ladies Call that aims to provide a space for women to empower and inspire each other.
Did we mention, she’s also part of Singapore pioneering hip-hop dance crew Radikal Forze and is part of Team Nike Singapore too?