Lil Buck, on a Tuesday

Tuesday Jan 27th, 2015

Blog > Lil Buck, on a Tuesday


Photo by World Red Eye.

Last Tuesday, Lil Buck dropped by YoungArts. If you don’t know who he is, take a moment to Google “lil buck yo yo ma”.

[Pause for Googling and watching and awe.]

Just to explain before I geek out – my niche in the art world is handmade animation. This craft, if anything, means spending countless hours trying to express stories and emotions by reconstructing movement one frame at a time, with a flare of illusion or bending of reality here and there. So, I’m not necessarily “a dancer,” but this was totally my cup of tea.

Lil Buck visited YoungArts for the Salon Series, which invites game-changing artists to have an intimate chat with Miami-dwellers at the YA Campus. He also started the day with a master class and ended it with a solo performance for the Salon attendees. And having him around all day to share his craft and his journey was so lovely – it was a refreshing reminder that honest intentions, a lot of practice and training, respect for history and also great openness to new ideas and to your own uniqueness do yield wonderful results. (You can watch the full Salon on the YoungArts YouTube to hear his super down-to-earth yet inspiring life story!)

At the end of the Salon when he performed, I could sense everyone in the audience was happily, completely invested in Lil Buck’s flowing, floating universe for those 3-5 minutes. I did a bit of reading on empathy when I was studying animation in college, since I was obsessed with this idea of animation as a dance, and the definition was something (mind-twisting) along the lines of, “seeing another individual experience something and experiencing that something as your own experience.” So as we all gathered around watching Lil Buck unassumingly doing the Lil Buck thing, I could image somewhere very basic inside us we were all having a beautiful, accepting moment of realizing, “Hey. That’s a human doing those gorgeous things. And all of us are humans, too. So we’re ALL gorgeous creatures. YES." 

(But, I did take his master class that morning, and years of hip-hop classes in my teens could not even help me feel anything gorgeous while jookin. But it’s okay; I’ll find other ways to feel gorgeous.)

Then there’s my animator mind that gets so giddy about his dance style: There are these little moments where he suddenly speeds up an arm wave and then quickly decelerates to a halt – trailing off with a few more arm ripples in the pause to savor the stillness – before busting out into the next impulse.  It’s so juicy. I know through animation that dynamic, floating movements like that are comprised of many smaller, unique moments. A movement that trails off and floats away does not consist of evenly spaced frames and a clean stop – it takes greatly varied increments to decelerate with such feeling. And if you were to animate a Lil Buck pause, you wouldn’t simply hold a frame. When you think you’re done with the movement, you add a few more seconds – maybe up to a hundred more frames of infinitesimal shifts – that keep the moment subtly alive.

There’s just so much there. I could find in his dancing so much food for thought (especially animation thoughts). But, this is all just my extremely nerdy way of saying that there are all these quirky ways to do things that can look and feel so right, and Lil Buck’s dancing is a good example of that. It’s like there are all these tiny little fractions of time and magic that are totally organic and of our human nature. We’re all so full of possibilities, of floating, of understanding.

At the end of the Salon I watched people make their way out of the Ted’s at YoungArts space, all with little smiles of discovery (or rediscovery) on their faces. It made me happy. I was so glad YoungArts could direct Lil Buck in the way of Miami for a day because it seemed to leave Miami with all sorts of valuable, good feelings.

By Isabela Dos Santos, 2011 YoungArts Winner in Cinematic Arts and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.