From Rapier to Malapad
Long before there was much hip in Vancouver’s hop, you could still find talented dancers and choreographers teaching hip-hop classes in small studios and gyms around town. The classes attracted a wild mix of ages and dance stages – just people wanting to listen to great music, get some exercise and have fun.
Going way, way back, one of the most popular hip-hop dance leaders here was Bradley Rapier. Olympic Gym, Sweat Co, Harbour Dance – if the joyously-haired Bradley was teaching, the people were showing up early. He had an easy manner, a keen musicality and the ability to choreograph steps that worked in their most simple to nuanced forms.
At the time, Bradley was starting to win international dance competitions and parts in commercials and TV shows. Bigger stages beckoned. We were sad to lose him to the States, but he went on to found The Groovaloos, choreograph Off-Broadway shows, perform on Ellen to Fallon to SYTYCD and win countless awards.
These days, Vancouver’s hip-hop community extends well beyond a club here and a dance following there. For adults looking to take dance classes, Harbour Dance is a great place to find talented instructors. For those who haven’t climbed up the steep, steep stairs, Harbour offers hip-hop, ballet, pointe, jazz, street jazz, dancehall… Professionals come looking for top-notch, drop-in classes. Beginners come looking for inspiration and high quality teachers.
Harbour hip-hop comes at different levels with a long list of instructors. One particularly popular class is Grooving Intro with another talented dancer: Eric Malapad. Eric has taught at Harbour for more than 15 years. He runs a high energy class with great music and a non-judgy vibe.
One of the best things about this class is that it’s non-choreo. For those who are just starting or those who want to get lost in the music without learning a lot of tricky steps, Grooving is a non-intimidating, beat-driven workout. ”It’s there to give people the underlying funk,” says Malapad, “the underlying personality behind all the moves and steps you see when they do hip-hop, when they do freestyle or choreography.”
Like Brad before him, the personable Eric attracts a loyal following. If you are more advanced, you can check out Malapad’s other hip-hop classes or those of instructors like Richard O’Sullivan, Joanne Pesusich, Chris Wong and many more.
Written by Elizabeth Newton