My name is
John Comix Barrella
I developed this program in an effort to expand on the ability to assist teachers around the world that have little to no access to authentic hip hop training. For years, I've crafted e-books & workshop videos, hosted seminars, & flown to countless places to train teachers in what I do. By combining my knowledge of hip hop/street styles & lengthy experience with my training in childhood education & choreography composition, I've been able to craft a method of dance education that takes hip hop way beyond combo classes and trendy dances. The Comix Method is a collection of all the things that makes my work effective in a classroom while maintaining respect for Hip Hop's rich history.
As you dive into my course, you'll be informed on everything from dance history to details on my Core Lessons. My tests are designed to ensure that you understand key historical facts, my rules for educating in this style, and the background information on many technical aspects of the dance genres we explore. Passing each test means that I believe you understand the absolute, most important aspects of dance education in this realm and can lead hip hop class in a way we don't nearly see enough of in dance programs!
I never grew up in a dance studio.
I had a particularly difficult childhood, which contributed to both my inability to attend a dance school, and my relationship with hip hop. As a child, I gravitated toward the arts. The first time I ever thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, my mind would focus on what makes me feel important, powerful, or successful. I wanted to be a dancer.
As often as I could, I would use dance to define my character. I didn’t want to be defined by struggle and hardship, our circumstances in my youth, or even my shyness in social settings It was perhaps my persistent need to unlock a part of myself hiding underneath and change the kind of life experiences I was having that pushed me to pursue dancing. I knew that when I danced, I felt the most ME. I wanted to apply that to everything in my life. My studies, jobs, and persona as a young teen was defined by dance. I still never got to attend a dance studio. All of the hip hop I ever learned came from music videos and one summer dance course that was gifted to me when I was 13, and I would use that to identify myself as a dancer wherever I was.
In high school, I auditioned and was accepted into School of the Arts, where I would begin my journey with Ballet & Modern dance in a school for performing arts and continue in college. My first dance experience was in a program that made dance a course of study, not just a dance class. From high school through college, we trained in a range of techniques within those genres. We also dug deep into choreography composition, improv, childhood education, human anatomy, music theory, acting, musical theatre, and a number of other studies.
Aside from my time with Ballet & Modern, I auditioned for a hip hop dance company that happened to be led by a hip hop teacher that enforced the study of authentic Hip Hop. It was here that I was humbled quickly by the wider world of hip hop and other street styles, realizing just how much I didn’t know.
My understanding of dance education consisted of technique, exploration, improv, dance history, and so much more than choreography. Additionally, I understood hip hop’s history and the range of techniques open for exploration. By the time I stepped into the world of teaching, I learned that hip hop dance classes often do neither of these things. It became a top priority to work out my classes in ways that were educational and accurate, even when there was resistance due to just how abnormal that was. This was the beginning of my teaching method. The first step was a goal - Make hip hop REAL and EDUCATIONAL.
As years passed, my experiences and the changing world shaped my programs further. My time in auditions and doing music videos taught me about expectations for dancers. Preparation for Ted Talks, full stage productions, & arena style performances taught me about the range of audiences we may have. Studying other art forms such as cinematography, screenwriting, physical comedy all gave me new ways to view performance & presentation. Today, the Comix Method is a representation of education that is open minded about the arts, makes class informative, and honors hip hop.
Structuring my lessons on my own professional dance company in particular has granted me the opportunity to unlock doors into other areas that help me validate my work as the right direction. All of the guest work I do as well as my time spent in Universities tells me I have something in hip hop that can be valuable and educational. Finally, the friendships I have made among other hip hop artists and veterans has given me an opportunity to hear how this sort of direction I take hip hop is healthy for the study of this dance form. Of course, this leads me to obtain even more knowledge and perspectives from individuals within the history of hip hop, evolving my own perspective along the way.
I mention these experiences because they shape this method just as much as the actual content you will study. These experiences created and validated the work I do. When your audience is entertained, professionals are seeking your advice, veterans appreciate your work, and students enjoy your presence, you know you’re on the right track. And now it’s time to open you up to my world and teach you all about the details of that track.
Workshops, Choreography, & Other Work
Aside from my program, I still do everything I've developed a reputation doing in the dance world. From education to choreography & performances, I'm always happy to discuss whatever it is you need!
Any dance related inquiries - JohnBarrella13@gmail.com