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A krumper dancing in Australia.

Krumping is a type of street dance popularized in the United States that is characterized by free, expressive, exaggerated, and highly energetic moves involving the arms, head, legs, chest, and feet.[1] The root word "Krump" is a backronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise.[2][3] The youths who started krumping saw the dance as a way for them to escape gang life[4] and "to release anger, aggression and frustration positively, in a non-violent way."[3] Krumping has become a major part of hip-hop dance. CBS news has compared the intensity within krumping to what rockers experience in a mosh pit.[5]



"Krumping doesn't start moves or your character. It starts with your heart. It starts with what you feel. You gotta' tap into this... It's more that just throwing arms out there on a certain beat, stomping on a certain beat. It has to come from somewhere."

Ceasare "Tight Eyez" Willis [6]

Krumping originated in Los Angeles, CA during the 1990s.[1] There are four primary moves: wobbles, arm swings, chest pops, and stomps.[6] Unlike other hip-hop dances krumping is rarely choreographed; it is almost entirely freestyle (improvisational) and is danced most frequently in battles or sessions rather than on a stage. Krumping is different stylistically from other hip-hop dance styles such as b-boying[7] and turfing. Krumping is very aggressive and is danced upright to upbeat and fast-paced music,[3] where as b-boying is more acrobatic and is danced on the floor to break beats. The Oakland dance style turfing is a fusion of popping and mimeing that incorporates storytelling and illusion. Krumping doesn't use mime techniques. It is also less precise than turfing and more freestyle.[3] Thematically, all these dance styles share common ground including their street origins, their freestyle nature, and the use of battling. These commonalities bring them together under the umbrella of hip-hop dance.


Clowning is the less aggressive predecessor to krumping and was created in 1992 by Thomas "Tommy the Clown" Lamoreaux in Compton, CA.[3] In the 1990s, Tommy and his dancers, the Hip Hop Clowns, would paint their faces and perform clowning for children at birthday parties or for the general public at other functions as a form of entertainment.[7] In contrast, krumping focuses on highly energetic battles and dramatic movements[3] which Tommy describes as intense, fast-paced, and sharp.[7] "If movement were words, krumping would be a poetry slam."[1] Krumping was not directly created by Tommy the Clown; however, krumping did grow out of clowning.[1][8][9] the leaders of the Krump Kings crew Ceasare (pronounced CHEZ-a-ray) "Tight Eyez" Willis and Jo'Artis "Big Mijo" Ratti are credited with developing krumping.[3][4][6][9] They were all originally clown dancers for Shannyfeet but their dancing was too "rugged" and "raw" for clowning so they eventually broke away and developed their own style.[4] This style is now known as krumping.

"You would never imagine black hip-hop clowns really doing nothing until I brought it to this world. God allowed me to bring it to this world."

Thomas " Tommy the Clown" Lamoreaux [7]

Tommy eventually opened a clown dancing academy and started the Battle Zone competition where krump crews and clown crews could come together and battle each other in front of an audience of their peers.[3][5] David LaChapelle's Rize is a documentary about the clowning and krumping subculture in Los Angeles. He says of the movement:

"What Nirvana was to rock-and-roll in early '90s is what these kids are to hip-hop. It's the alternative to the bling-bling, tie-in-with-a-designer corporate hip-hop thing."[10]

LaChapelle was first introduced to krumping when he was directing Christina Aguilera's music video "Dirrty".[4] After deciding to make a documentary about the dance, he started by making a short film titled Krumped.[4] He screened this short at the 2004 Aspen Shortsfest and used the positive reaction from the film to gain more funding for a longer version.[4] This longer version became Rize which was screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and several other film festivals abroad.[11]

Aside from Rize, krumping has appeared in several music videos including Madonna's "Hung Up", Missy Elliott's "I'm Really Hot", Black Eyed Peas' "Hey Mama", and Chemical Brothers "Galvanize".[7] The dance has also appeared in the movie Bring It On: All or Nothing and on the Fox reality dance competition So You Think You Can Dance. Russell Ferguson, the winner of season six is a krumper.


  • Battle: when competitors face-off in a direct dance competition where the use of arm swings and chest movements known as flares and bucks are extremely common.
  • Session: when a group of krump dancers form a circle, or cipher in hip-hop context, and one-by-one go into the middle and freestyle.
  • Buck: an expression used by krumpers to describe dancing that is both difficult to execute and impressive/striking.
  • Labbin': when krump dancers get together to create new moves and perhaps even adapt their style.


  1. ^ a b c d Paggett, Taisha (July 2004). "Getting krumped: the changing race of hip hop". Dance Magazine. BNET. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  2. ^ Infantry, Ashante (May 21, 2009). "Dancing off the Streets". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Krumping". Retrieved 2009-10-30. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Jones, Jen (September 1, 2005). "Behind the Scenes of David LaChapelle's Documentary "Rize"". Dance Spirit. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  5. ^ a b Menzie, Nicola (June 30, 2005). "'Krump' Dances Into Mainstream". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  6. ^ a b c Shiri Nassim (producer). (2005). The Heart of Krump. [DVD]. Los Angeles: Ardustry Home Entertainment, Krump Kings Inc. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Reld; Bella, Mark (April 23, 2004). "Krumping: If You Look Like Bozo Having Spasms, You're Doing It Right". MTV. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  8. ^ Thompson, Luke (June 22, 2005). "Dance, Dance, Revolution". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  9. ^ a b Voynar, Kim (July 12, 2005). "News Releases: Rize". (Weblogs Network). Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  10. ^ Swart, Sharon (2004-01-13). "David LaChapelle: Sundance short take". Variety. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  11. ^ "Release dates for Rize". Retrieved 2009-08-14. 

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