Holly Bass

Holly Bass

Washington, DC


Holly Bass is a writer, performer and director. Her most recent body of work explores the endless allure of booty – from the Venus Hottentots to video vixens.

A Cave Canem fellow, her poems have appeared inCallaloonocturnes (re)viewBeltwayRole Call(Third World Press) and The Ringing Ear, an anthology of Black Southern poetry. Her pieces have been workshopped and presented at respected regional theaters and performance spaces such as the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, the Whitney Museum and the Experience Music Project in Seattle. She is the Cullen Poet-in-Residence for Busboys & Poets (DC) where she coordinates open mic nights and writing workshops for the public. She studied modern dance (under Viola Farber) and creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College before earning a Master's in Journalism from Columbia University. She was the first journalist to put the term "hip hop theater" into print in a 1999 American Theatre article. She was a founding member of DC WritersCorps and continues to work as a teaching artist in schools, colleges and community centers. She has received numerous grants from the DC Arts Commission and was one of twenty artists nationwide to receive 2008 Future Aesthetics grant from the Ford Foundation/Hip Hop Theater Festival.

Crunk Lessons: A hip hop cover of Adrian Piper’s (1983) “Funk Lessons”

In Funk Lessons, Adrian Piper takes on the role of cultural tour guide and instructor to a predominantly white audience on the history of funk and rhythm before guiding them through a series of dance movements. Describing the work as “exuberant,” a 2001 article in Art in America noted, “here, music and dance become tools for breaking down stereotypes… through an exhilarating, participatory ritual.”

Thirty years after the original, Crunk Lessons will use the same structure: history lesson + dance lesson. The lecture will begin where Funk Lessons left off, tracing the evolution of rap music from its 1970s origins to its current state. Participants will learn basic head nods, hand gestures, shoulder shrugs and booty shakes. We will explore race and gender stereotypes in hip hop, along with the (somewhat illicit) pleasure and appeal of mainstream hip hop culture and dance—pimping, flossing, popping collars and droppin it like it's hot.

Featuring alive and able  

Here's the clip for Funk Lessons. You can also go to her website and use search and put in funk: http://www.adrianpiper.com/index.html