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Art HERstory SPECIAL EDITION: Hanifa Queen

Today’s Art HERstory post takes you on a journey from a B Girl’s early days to a present artistic endeavor that’s sure to catch the attention of urban art enthusiasts everywhere.

“Hey! Check the one in red—it’s a girl!”

Those words are heard on a video of the UK’s first B-Boy pop music video, Electro Rock. In the video, a small figure in a red tracksuit is seen doing impressive moves in a dance genre dominated by men.

Hanifa McQueen-Hudson was that “one in red.” This pioneering B Girl of the early ’80s is widely accepted as the first UK B Girl and is undoubtedly, one of the best B Girls in the world to have ever competed on the same level as UK B Boys.

Born and raised of Jamaican parents, Hanifa’s African Caribbean culture and heritage strongly influenced her skills and knowledge in black music and dance from a very young age. From the age of 5, she was taught how to play various drums and percussions from West Africa and was later introduced to the B Boy scene in the early ’80s.

Above: Hanifa, age 15, Electro Rock, 1985

Hanifa, who was formally known as “Bubbles? or “B Boy Bubbles” (for a long time people thought Hanifa was a boy) started B Boying in 1982 at the age of 12 when she first saw her brothers practicing on the kitchen floor and in the front room of their home.

One day after her brothers returned back home from a local center, they saw Hanifa doing the Electric Boogie, CC’s, and footwork, in their front room floor. To their amaze, they had no choice but to showcase their little sister at the local youth centers and night clubs, despite the age restriction.

Her brothers, who later started the Legendary Wolverhampton B Boys, traveled around the UK performing and battling other crews with little Hanifa. She was later given credit as a co-founding member and co-director of the crew, along with one of her brothers, B Boy Birdie (1984).

Hanifa in Electro Rock, 1985

Above: Hanifa and Pioneer of Hip Hop, Africa Bambaataa, 1985.

Hanifa rosed to fame a year later after her featured role in the UK’s first ever B-Boying pop music video known as Electro Rock, which she became most famous and remembered for, when the host of the show announce her appearance by saying, “Check out the one in red…it’s a girl!?

Hanifa age 16 Freeze Frame 1986.

Her nominated role by Polydor Records 1985, and James Street Productions, as Electro Rock’s best female performer promoted Hanifa’s career. Since this achievement by the age of 16, Hanifa made numerous guest appearances on various TV programs such as, Bombin, Saturday Super Store, Freeze Frame, Black and Blue and Saturday Starship. She also appeared in a sportswear commercial for major sponsors, such as Puma, Pony, Australian, and Kappa.

Hanifa, age 16, Saturday Super Store, 1986.

Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer recently opened a new chapter in 2005 for Hanifa after she was feature in the new historical book of female break dancers, titled We B Girlz.

Above: Hanifa’s “Bubbles” spread in We B Girlz.

“Bubbles didn’t ask if girls would fit in the culture. She made herself fit in.”

– from Nika Kramer’s We B Girlz.

A complimentary documentary honoring Hanifa’s story and acknowledging her role as a pioneer B Girl in the UK, titled Redder Than Red, has also been launched in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, France, and US.

Hanifa’s expertise of B Boying lies within the techniques of her various skills of Top Rocking, Footworks, and her unique B Girl style.

Above: Hanifa and Legendary B Boy, Ken Swift.

Above: Hanifa at the Redder Than Red Premiere London, with The Buck Brothers Directors of TruFam Records.

Hanifa’s legendary status continues to influence both B Boys and B Girls around the world and today has recently been awarded with a Welsh B Boy Championship Excellence and Achievement Award for her significant contribution to the UK B Boy Scene in 2006. She is also the first Black British woman to have an African American Black History Month Award named after her legendary status called the “Hanifa Bubbles Queen Awards.?

…And She Don’t Stop!

Hanifa’s latest project, Art Breaker, has been given it’s rightful potential mark in the UK history, in combining street dance and the art world in Hip Hop culture. The project is a unique and creative way of painting patterns onto canvas, without the use of paintbrushes or aerosol paint.

The Process:

Hanifa B Boying on canvas!

Breakin’, with paint applied to the hands and feet, is the only tool used to create the shapes and patterns.

Blue foot print of Top Rock , finger strokes of Baby freeze.

Performed to the ambient sounds of nature, Jazz and percussion, each break dance step, twist and spin movement create patterns of hand and foot prints.

Un-named canvas. Done by footwork and Top Rock.

Stretching canvas onto frame…

…it’s not as easy as it looks!

After all these years, Hanifa could easily hang up her kicks and retire from the art of B Boying but she continues to evolve creatively. We, here at MISS Crew, see her as an inspiration and look forward to keeping you updated on the B Girl’s future endeavours.

Drop by Hanifa’s official Myspace pages and give her some much deserved props!

For more info on the legendary B Girl, you can also check out at www.bboybunker.com/hanifa

Many thanks go out to Hanifa herself for the info she provided for this feature.

To contact Hanifa’s Agents/Project Managers, go to KalaPhool.com.

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