Hip-Hop and Ballet: Mother and Daughter Dance

hip-hop breakdanceIn the McAuliffe-Ameur family, mother and daughter form an unusual duo. For mom Cindy, nicknamed Goldilocks, a professional breakdancer, it was a shock when her daughter Kêanna, age 8, opted to become a ballerina. Both mother and daughter possess a passion for dance that is forever part of their genetic code. But how can you explain their radically different interests?

Gifty Mane    Files Hip-Hop, Breakdance

Goldilocks is the founder and head of a Montreal hip-hop school, Urban Element. In her 15 years as a dancer she’s tried every urban dance style you can imagine: krump, popping, locking, B-girling, waacking, house… A several-time national hip-hop dance champion, it’s no exaggeration to say that dance is her life.

Originally from Peterborough, a city in England, Cindy survived a difficult childhood. Bullied at school, she withdrew from the world. In 1998, she left England to get a new start in Quebec. Arriving in Montreal at age 18, she fell in love with the vibrant hip-hop scene.

Loosened from the bonds of her strict family upbringing, she found a freedom of expression in hip-hop that brought her out of her shell. “Hip-hop immediately spoke to me,” she says. “There are no limits. I found a way to connect with people through music and dance. I adored it!” Cindy flourished, became Goldilocks, and started a family. She married choreographer Angelo Ameur, one of the pioneers of hip-hop in Montreal. Today they have two children: Kiaran, 12, and Kêanna, 8.

If Cindy’s life revolves around hip-hop, her youngest daughter’s existence has taken a whole other direction. For Kêanna, classical ballet holds more appeal. “She wants to be a princess,” her mother explains. Kêanna’s love of ballet showed itself very early on: “At 3 years old she was already walking on her toes all over the house. She absolutely wanted to walk on point, so when she turned 4 we enrolled her in ballet class. She’s continued it to this day. She adores it!”

Kêanna felt that hip-hop wasn’t feminine enough for her. Ballet was a perfect fit for her world of dolls hip-hop breakdanceand princesses. “Classical dance has a dignity, a prestige, that hip-hop can’t match,” her mother admits. The technique and posture are completely different. Ballet requires a certain discipline. Ballet is strict and structured; worlds apart from what Goldilocks seeks from dance. Hip-hop is free, inspired by the dancer’s cultural and social background.

“In my own dance style,” Goldilocks explains, “I try to reflect a certain femininity, even though I learned to dance like a man. I bring a feminine touch to my movements.”

When we asked her if she blends other styles into her hip-hop performances, Goldilocks admitted bringing in elements of contemporary dance for dramatic effect. Wistfully, she recalled when 2 of her dancers called in sick just before a performance. To fill the time, she had to improvise something with her daughter. Kêanna appeared on stage in a tutu, right in the middle of a breakdance number. “People flipped!” It was the first time Goldilocks had ever blended hip-hop and classical dance into one of her routines, and the results brought the house down – the audience loved it.

Goldilocks is still trying to prove to her daughter that it’s possible to be feminine within hip-hop. Recently, she may have just succeeded on that quest: Kêanna has joined the 2small2catch dance troupe, where hip-hop is expressed with femininity.

Soon the whole family will perform as a unit at hip-hop shows. To the great delight of a very proud mom.

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