Caracas Tuki dancers

Since Janette Beckman and I went to Caracas to teach about Street Photography and Youth culture we did a bit of research before we left. One of the things we found online was a school that taught a kind of hip hop dance called “Tuki.” The problem was that it was only a virtual school. We were worried there wouldn’t be anything for Janette and our students to shoot., since we were relying on Roberto and others at RMTF (our hosts) to make things happen.

Luckily for us, we were able to connect with the same group of dancers we saw online, and went to the community center in Petare (the largest slum in Caracas) where they hang out and practice. It was our first foray into a different part of Caracas, and we were so happy to be able to get out and meet people.

Elsberth Tuki dancer Caracas

Tuki music is electronic music that grew out of the barrios of South America.  In the same way that “punk” was a slur, so is “tuki.”  The dancer we saw on YouTube, Elberth “El Maestro”, seems to be a pretty well-known dancer. Tall and skinny, with rainbow kicks, his body is like a rubberband-malleable and bendable in extraordinary ways. We watched in awe as he and the other dancers in the crew showed their stuff. All around the yard were stenciled images of Chavez: as a b-boy, dunking a basketball, ever present and being whatever people wanted him to be.


Elberth's rainbow kicks

The dancers, and everyone else were friendly, fun, and even though we don’t speak Spanish, they talked through the interpreters to be sure we understood them. And they loved being photographed.

After an amazing afternoon we returned to the school to give our lectures and meet more people, including some who had heard us on the radio! The word seemed to have gone out and rappers and hip hop followers came out to hear us, to meet us and to look at Janette’s seminal work.

The next day would be the start of our classes which would go on through the weekend. Little did we know then how incredible our students were, and what fun we would have, even as our days got longer.

Follow my next post tomorrow about Los Dos Caminos Square, Tiuna el Fuerte, and the wonderful work done my our class of 18 or 19 students.

Caracas Tuki

All photographs by me