Lil Buck Developed Personal Jookin Style
In 2005, a young Charles Riley. Better known as Lil Buck, was invited to study with the New Ballet Ensemble in Memphis, Tennessee. He accepted under the condition that he would not be forced to wear tights. Seventeen years old at the time, he wasn’t new to dance. He’d been jookin for five years. Jookin is a native Memphis genre comprised of a jerky gait called a gangsta walk. Mixed with various elements of other street styles from liquid to break. It already included sneaker-toe-stepping reminiscent of classical pointe work. But for Riley, adding movements and some of the rigor of ballet led to a highly developed personal jookin style.
After a couple of years studying ballet.
Lil Buck got the chance (through a connection made on MySpace) to fly to Los Angeles. With a friend and make some money dancing in a commercial. He stayed, got an agent, and soon found himself dancing along to a live Yo-Yo Ma performance in a Spike Jonze. Shot iPhone video that would go viral on the Opening Ceremonyblog.
He’s since danced with Madonna at the Super Bowl, been choreographed by Benjamin Millepied, and spent a year in the Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson: One. Lil Buck will take the stage at the New York City Ballet. Alongside Lauren Lovette for the first of a handful of “pièce d’occasion” performances created specifically for the company’s Art Series. Les Bosquets, which was conceived by JR and features original music by Woodkid. This is Lil Buck most traditional and prestigious accomplishment to date.
It’s also the institution’s closest flirtation with street-based styles of dance. Back when he was a teenager, Riley eventually relented and wore tights so that he could perform with his hometown ballet ensemble. Now at 25, he’ll need to make no such compromise. Lil Buck might be wearing sneakers and maybe even a baseball cap.
To Dancers, Movement Art Is!
By Jacob Brown/vogue