Tiona Nekkia McClodden | The Philly Bop

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Country of origin: United States
Project location: United States
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2018

The Philly Bop explores a particular type of Philadelphia based social dance through an autoethnographic lens using photography, video, and audio interviews highlighting members of the dance community who carry on the legacy of the city’s official dance. The Philly Bop emerged in the 1950s and was made popular with the emergence of American Bandstand, the dance and live music television series filmed on location in West Philadelphia. Originally known as Bandstand, the show did not allow Black dancers to attend the live tapings at the height of the shows popularity, resulting in the emergence of a modified version of the dance in Black communities.

The Philly Bop was created at this historical moment and is upheld to this day by many of those pioneering Black dancers and their descendants. In this project, I document my own learning of the Philly Bop dance, as well as the dance as it is performed within cabarets in North Philadelphia that have remained a viable space for early Black dancers, who are now elders. The series also considers how this dance could be reintroduced to a larger community to ensure that it does not disappear over time.