The Origins of the DAP

Jul 9, 2015 |

"When we see youth, athletes, or even President Obama giving a fist bump or dap, we think of these gestures as mere greetings and are not aware of the origins and historical significance of this language." --- Visual Artist, LaMont Hamilton

The Performance Project @ University Settlement is proud to present the world premiere of Five on the Black Hand Side/Dapline! July 30, 31 and August 1 in the historic Speyer Hall. Conceived by visual artist LaMont Hamilton in collaboration with choreographer André M. Zachery of Renegade Performance Group, Five on the Black Hand Side/Dapline! is an interdisciplinary project and performance exploring the origins and continued practice of "the DAP" or dapping: the intricate handshakes that serve as greetings usually between Black men in the United States. According to Hamilton the show, "looks at dapping as an inter-generational practice that is often misunderstood from the outside in."

Developed by Black combat troops during the Vietnam War, DAP was an acronym for "dignity and pride." Through his Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian, LaMont Hamilton has been interviewing and photographing Vietnam vets and gang members, as well as searching archival imagery to better understand "the DAP" as both a symbol of unity and survival in a racially turbulent atmosphere as well as a complex language for communicating information. "The intention of this project is to show how at the root of dapping, there is a constant response of intimate understanding and connection in the face of oppression," states Hamilton.

The performance, created with choreographer André Zachery and a group of performers representing the varied experiences and backgrounds of men of color in the United States, serves as an invitation to witness the subtle and unspoken conversations between Black men in our country. Additionally, a major focus of this project is to highlight how the respective paths of people of color intersect, whether literally or figuratively in terms of solidarity, love, and progression. Therefore this process and performance includes women dancers and a group of young adult artists coming of age within University Settlement's community. Zachery feels, "creating and cultivating a space for reciprocal relationships between Black femaleness and maleness as well as young and established artists of color is itself a revolutionary act - and one that we felt obliged to support."

Join US as we dive deep into the origin and practice of "the DAP." Explore the inter-generational history of dapping - as well as the ever-relevant issue of Blackness relating to masculinity, image, and existence in the United States.

The Performance Project @ University Settlement presents the world premiere of Five on the Black Hand Side/Dapline! on Thursday July 30, Friday July 31 and Saturday August 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors.

Advanced tickets can be purchased online now! 

Want to hear more from André Zachery and LaMont Hamilton? Check out our blog for a special Q&A with these dynamic artists-in-residence!


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