Freedom in Dance

Duane Lee Holland is not only passionate about dance; he is passionate about the message behind it as well. Performing in front of students at Colgate University, he emphasizes major points regarding the freedoms of dance and individual. His brief history pertaining to hip-hop provides insight to its African roots. In the language used in West Africa, “hippy” means “knowledgeable” or “conscience” and “hop” literally means dance. This is very telling and can relate directly to some of W.E.B. Du Bois’ writing in Souls of Black Folk. In his writing, Du Bois emphasizes the importance of great success. For example, in the chapter “Of The Training of Black Men”, Du Bois supports that if a white man has access to a higher education so too should a black man. Education should be made available to those who work for it, regardless of race. The meaning behind the word “hip hop” does a good job encompassing this. Since it means knowledgeable dance, those who dance clearly have the ability to understand how the movement works. According to Holland hip-hop “is a universal thing.” Du bois argues that education should be viewed in the same way. Hip-hop is not restricted to one race and neither should education. Additionally, Holland emphasizes the importance of not allowing others to define who you are as a person. Du Bois talks a lot about a veil being placed over black people. This veil is a symbol of the view society had on the African Americans and possibly even some African Americans themselves. Some may have let society define them, especially in the oppressive time they lived in. In a sense, Holland was encouraging the students of Colgate to refuse to allow the veil to cover them. Holland also highlighted how important it is to not be satisfied with what we are given. It is important to strive for great things and always push for the next best thing, which is exactly what Du Bois was pushing for in his writing. One thing that was interesting about Holland’s performance is he mentioned a few times that there were some words in the hip-hop culture that were misused. This made me personally realize that not everything is what people make it seem. Some labels are misused, for example, “break-dancing” is not actually called “break-dancing”, but rather “breaking”. This is important because it shows that society can use a label that is not accurate, and often times it does. In this video, throughout it is seen that when Holland is dancing, there are always people around, helping him in his moves and supporting him.

During his performances he reiterated the importance of support from both the audience and the dancers.  This support in true in society as well.  Du Bois single handedly could not gain equal rights for all African Americans, he needed support from those who would help.  Social support is important in defining who an individual is to give them strength to be who they want.  After reading Du Bois and viewing Holland’s performance, it is clear the importance of being able to think for oneself and not allow anyone/anything to define you.

Work Cited


One thought on “Freedom in Dance

  1. I completely agree with the point you made about Holland calling hip hop “a universal thing.” I think this is a very true statement. A lot of times we think of hip hop as part of black culture, which, of course, it is. That is where it originated and where it still, for the most part, lives today, but it has also spread to many different people of all races. Hip hop is not strictly an African American art form. People all over the world enjoy listening to and creating hip hop music, as well as watching and performing hip hop dance. It is a unifying, cultural art form that has really integrated communities. I like the fact that you also tied that into the idea that education should be a universal thing, too. Although education started out as something that only white people had the privilege of receiving, now education is offered to everyone. Nothing should be restricted to a certain race. That is how divisions are formed and racism starts. By integrating all aspects of society we can collectively become a better, more productive, and more accepting world.


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