Let’s get this party started! Memphis jookin’ with Lil Buck at Carpenter Center in Long Beach


As a dance writer and historian, I’m completely fascinated — and on board — with the seemingly inexhaustible supply of witty, innovative new dance forms that arise from the streets of our society. A crash course in one such form will be on tap at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach, with the entertaining showcase, “Memphis Jookin’: The Show Featuring Lil Buck.” The street dance style, Jookin’, popularized by dancer/choreographer Lil Buck, aka Charles Riley, had its genesis in the streets and clubs of Memphis. With a healthy dollop of MJ, a strong import of krumping and a set of grandparents in break dancing, Jookin’ has spread so far and wide that this well-reviewed theatrical showcase of it recently premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center.

The movement incorporates jerky staccato moves, quick steps, stomping, karate-chop arm-throws and extreme twists viewable in the photos. Sliding, gliding, and tippy-toe-walking in stiff sneakers punctuate the dancer’s groove.

The Carpenter Center performance (where there’s not a bad seat in the house) features ten talented Memphis dancers, to a DJ’ed soundtrack. It’s the baby of the great social dancer Lil Buck, who along with other superstars of the form, will be on stage. Reports indicate the wild fun is balanced by instruction. We love learning, so we’re going.

Another fan was the dance critic Brian Seibert, author of What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing, reviewing in The New York Times

In a cool local connection, the show’s director is Cal State Long Beach dance faculty member Amy Campion The Center is doing everything to share the fun with the community. As part of the Carpenter Center’s Arts for Life: Community Connections program, tickets for the community, and for CSULB students, faculty, and staff, start at only $10, with all proceeds going to the Carpenter Center’s Arts for Life program to help fund future performances, masterclasses with CSULB students, and arts exposure programming with Long Beach Unified School District students.

So, come on, Long Beach, let’s do this! Hope to see you there.

Memphis Jookin’: The Show Featuring Lil Buck | Carpenter Performing Arts Center | March 10

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