about

In this episode of America’s Next Top Model which first aired in 2006, Jay Manuel brings the models to a downtown Los Angeles rooftop to shoot a campaign for the retail shoe giant, Payless Shoes. To elicit what he describes as an “urban edge” on the shoot,  Manuel invites a crew of “krumpers” to dance with the models. Although the crew in question is wearing clown makeup, and is actually perhaps the most famous group of "clowners" in the world, Jay repeatedly refers to the dancers as “krumpers.” The dancers provide the backdrop for the models who don Payless shoes while dancing. Manuel tries to engage and motivate the model contestants in various ways, notably commenting on their race and sexuality.

discussion

Why does Jay bring dancers into the photo shoot? What role do they serve? How/why does their dance style (and dress style) evoke an "urban edge"?

How do the contestants discuss different dance styles while they're getting ready? How are dance styles implicitly or excplicitly tied to racial identity?

How are elements of race and sexuality discussed throughout the shoot (especially as Jay provides instructions to various contestants)? What assumptions and connections are made about racial identity and dancing ability? What assumptions are made about dancing and female sexuality?

Think about the different players in this clip – America's Next Top Model contestants, Payless Shoes, the dancers. What interest do each of these groups have for collaborating on this photoshoot?

critique

Krumping is a style of street dance, characterized by frenetic movements of the entire body. According to a 2005 documentary called Rize, Krumping originated with African-American youth in South Central Los Angeles during the early 2000s. It was seen as a means to escape gang life and release aggression and frustration in a positive, non-violent way. Although krumping did grow out of clowning, a related but less competitive form of dance that originated in Compton in the 1990s, the two styles are not one and the same. What is the significance of America’s Next Top Model's treatment of krumping and clowning as one unified dance subculture?