Tutting is the name given to a contemporary abstract interpretive dance style that exploits the body's ability to create geometric positions and movements, predominately with the use of right angles. It is performed with minute attention to the musical rhythm, typically by altering positions in a stop-and-go fashion. |
Though Tutting is currently a prevalent form in the closely related funk and electronic dance communities, its history, as with most dances, is not well documented.
'Tutting' referring to a distinct style gained usage with the advent of funk styles during the early 1980s. Within that community, dancers would use tutting poses while performing popping routines. One would 'hit' one position and then move immediately onto the next, similar in action to the robot popping routine only slightly faster. These movements made use of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders to create the desired right angle.
Presumably, the dance began as a mimicking of the angular poses common to ancient Egyptian art. In the early half of the 20th century, these poses were performed by various groups for comical effect (see the article Walking like an Egyptian). Tutting as a whole or certain tutting moves have been referred to as 'King Tut'; it is likely from this colloquialism for the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, as a representative of ancient Egypt in western popular culture, that the form gained its name. For this reason, Tutting is sometimes incorrectly identified as the related cultural phenomenon "Walking like an Egyptian".
Although tutting as a style has maintained its close ties to popping, it has since evolved to making use of a much wider range of positions and movements. The size of poses, or tuts, now varies from large body tuts to intricate finger tuts. The transitions between poses have become more elaborate and expressive. Moreover, certain substyles of tutting have emerged such as: boxing which consists of creating and manipulating box-like or rectangular shapes predominantly with ones arms; a liquid influenced style that some tutters use to make the joints appear as hinges that can then be manipulated by another bodypart; and fixed line which employs the mime concept of fixed point to create more convincing geometric illusions.
The electronic dance community has played a large role in the increasing robustness of tutting due to the more abstract nature of its own predominant style, liquiding. Tutting is now highly regarded in both the electronic and funk dance communities for its technical depth and distinctness to the extent that a sufficiently dedicated member from either may use it as their dominant style, and is occasionally referred to as a tutter. As such, practitioners of tutting will take from other funk styles in their performance, just as for instance, poppers would incorporate tutting in their own style during its formative years.
Both boxing and the hinge illusion are special applications of the mime concept fixed point. Another style, called fixed line, requires that dancers apply this concept rigorously to more convincingly convey the illusion of solid shapes. Much as a mime conveys a wall by always keeping one hand on the wall, or shows a rope by always keeping one hand on the rope, a tutter shows a shape by always maintaining at least one side of the shape. To do this, a tutter will assemble a shape part by part and dissasemble it in the same piecemeal fashion.
With practice this method can be used to create elaborate geometric patterns. When these patterns are formed only with the arms the effect is similar to boxing as described above, but now tutters are learning to incorporate all of their body parts to create a more dramatic effect.