Earlier this fall Funkanometry SF celebrated their fourth anniversary at the same place, 111 Minna Gallery, that is hosting this year's Goldies ceremony and party. They packed the joint. Between then and now the company has been places. Six core members — including directors Emerson Aquino and Gina Rosales — answered an invitation to travel to Bogotá, Colombia. There, as part of the city's Festival de Danza Urbana, they taught classes, were interviewed on the streets for radio and television, and gave performances.
Funkanometry SF is traveling these days — this month includes a trip to Chicago — but their heart remains in the Bay Area, where every Sunday night they take over the Westlake School for the Performing Arts in Daly City. In one large room company members and new students might run through eight counts while in another, smaller classroom veteran dancers hone an upcoming performance. Before, after, and in between the dancing, everyone hangs out in the courtyard, where kids and parents stop by to see what's up.
"I really started choreographing when I was 14," the soft-spoken Aquino explains one such Sunday, as he, Rosales, and cofounder Kyle Wai Lin good-naturedly attempt to break down the group's history, kidding each other all the while. "To me, choreography is about making pictures. Once you realize the amount of people you have [to work with], you can maneuver them to make pictures."
The pictures the group creates aren't just captivating still images — they form waves of energy as friends in the audience shout encouragement to dancers on the floor. That type of flow is no small feat, considering Aquino and the 20-some-member group tap into many different genres of music. The ladies are as slyly, stylishly sexy-tough as Amerie and Aaliyah, and the gentlemen aren't buried under baggy clothes — they've got debonair flair. In other words, Funkanometry SF aren't solemn hip-hop snobs — they're just as likely to draw from J-pop, house, or rock as they are Bay Area hyphy. "The art of choreography involves movement that is clear," Aquino says while discussing the fact that Janet Jackson is a dancer's pop singer if there ever was one (an axiom that extends to Timbaland as producer). "But a lot of people focus on movement at the expense of feeling. You can just move, but if you're not feeling the music, you're not dancing."
Like Aquino, Funkanometry SF's other codirectors started dancing in high school. Before joining Funkanometry SF the energetic Rosales captained a high school team and was part of another local crew, Xplicit. Lin and Aquino are friends dating back to childhood; these days Lin oversees the business and Web creative side of the group (www.funkanometrysf.com and www.funksters.org), letting Aquino guide the dancers. "Both of us wanted to create a foundation to serve the community, to challenge dancers, and create an outlet for youth," Lin says. Judging from the huge response to the group's Funksters youth program — overseen by Mary Jane Huang — they're succeeding on all fronts.
Each fall the San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest rolls around, and along with another community-based local company — Oakland's Izzy Award–winners New Style Motherlode — Funkanometry SF can be counted on to represent. This year Aquino and company are preparing a new show, Funk's Boutique, for Micaya's annual Palace of Fine Arts event. "It's set in a trendy boutique, and it showcases the versatility and diversity of the company," Aquino explains. Versatility and diversity — those are just two of the qualities that make Funkanometry SF unique. Each dancer brings another reason to check out their boutique. (Johnny Ray Huston)