Dark Matter in Breaking Cyphers: The Life of Africanist Aesthetics in Global Hip Hop (Paperback)
The dance circle (called the cypher) is a common signifier of breaking culture, known more for its spectacular moves than as a ritual practice with foundations in Africanist aesthetics. Yet those foundations--evident in expressive qualities like call and response, the aural kinesthetic, the imperative to be original, and more--are essential to cyphering's enduring presence on the global stage. What can cyphers activate beyond the spectacle? What lessons do cyphers offer about moving through and navigating the social world? And what possibilities for the future do they animate? With an interdisciplinary reach and a riff on physics, author Imani Kai Johnson centers the voices of practitioners in a study of breaking events in cities across the US, Canada, and parts of Europe. Dark Matter in Breaking Cyphers: the Life of Africanist Aesthetics in Global Hip Hop draws on over a decade of research and provides a detailed look into the vitality of Africanist aesthetics and the epistemological possibilities of the ritual circle.
Imani Kai Johnson is Assistant Professor of Critical Dance Studies at UC Riverside. She specializes in African diasporic ritual cultures, global popular culture, and Hip Hop. Dr. Johnson founded and directs of the Show & Prove Hip Hop Studies Conference Series. She is also co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Dance Studies, and has published works in Women & Performance and Dance Research Journal.