Published April 13, 2019

Born in 1974, Junious Lee Brickhouse grew up in a musical household in the African American communities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk. His mother, Lynda, shared with him her love of dance, teaching him routines he performed to entertain guests at neighborhood “record parties,” where adults played their favorite releases from Stax Records and other soul labels. Lynda taught Junious the “funky chicken,” the “breakdown,” and many other popular dances, while also encouraging him to create his own moves. Junious shared his mother’s passion and sought out places where he would encounter as many dance styles as possible: “For young Black children like myself, that meant community centers, parking lots, dance competitions, any place where young people were sharing with each other and building communities around urban dance forms.” Individual neighborhoods had more formal dance crews like City Limits, which Junious joined as its youngest member. By his teens, he had encountered and mastered many early forms of urban dance such as popping, locking, and breaking, and became particularly drawn to the quickly emerging dance style known as “house.”

Master of house culture and dance Junious Brickhouse and apprentice Tyrone Edwards (front). Photo by Russell Campbell.

Largely born from underground LGBTQ nightclubs in urban centers such as Chicago and New York near the end of the disco era, “house dance” incorporated the spirit of inclusivity, individuality, and freedom found in disco, incorporating earlier African American dance forms as well as elements of African dance, capoeira, salsa, and others. Today house dance music continues to thrive in the underground club scene, but is also taught in studios, performed on concert hall stages, and celebrated in dance competitions around the world.

Junious has become one of its greatest ambassadors, performing, competing, demonstrating, and teaching his craft across the country and the globe. In 2005, he founded Urban Artistry, Inc., an internationally recognized organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the teaching, performance, and preservation of dance and other art forms inspired by the urban experience. Urban Artistry hosts more than twenty performance events each year, conducts international exchanges, and has taught scores of young people the art of house and other dance styles. Of the many dancers whom he has mentored over the years, Junious considers his 2019 Virginia Folklife apprentice Tyrone Edwards of Herndon, Virginia, to be one of his most promising and intellectually curious students.

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