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The Silky Moves of Lil Buck: Jookin with Style

Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma

With some of the smoothest and ephemeral moves known to the street dance genre, Lil Buck is something of a prodigy with his free-style interpretations known as Jookin.

Lil Buck started dancing at 13, imitating Jookers on the street as well as following the moves of Michael Jackson and other icons of urban dance.  With some classical training from the New Ballet Ensemble and School in Memphis, Tennessee, he merged what he learned there with his growing personal style to create what others have aptly called a kind of “urban ballet.”  One has only to look at Lil Buck’s collaboration with Spile Jonze and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma as he dances his version of the ballet, The Dying Swan, to see how the unlikely fusion between genres becomes a work of genius.

Born in Memphis as Charles Riley, Lil Buck moved to Los Angeles to develop and expand his creative vision. In 2011 he collaborated with Vail International Dance Festival Artistic Director Damian Woetzel in a workshop at Inner City Arts in downtown L.A. to introduce students to dance. He was selected as a featured dancer by Madonna for her half time show for the Super Bowl and has performed with other music artists such as Monnae and Leftfoot.

Collaboration and exploration seem to be the basis of Lil Buck’s journey as an artist. Proof is in his group, New Styles Krew, consisting of a wide variety of street dance artists including Jookers, b-boys, poppers, tappers, contemporary dancers, and graffiti artists.

As a brilliant dancer, Lil Buck doesn’t need to go for the bravura moment or the necessarily grand display.  Each movement he creates emanates from within, creating a fluidly organic and seamless flow that has taken Michael Jackson’s “moonwalk” of the 80’s to a completely new and complex level.  His subtlety along with his corporal intelligence is as hypnotic as it is entertaining. Watching Lil Buck in his many diverse performances on YouTube is breathtaking as his unique moves illuminate the many different environments he chooses to perform in. Seeing him in a live concert would no doubt, double the pleasure.