In an effort to connect our communities and networks with our teaching artists, we are beginning a new blog series called "Artist Connect". Each week, we will feature one of our artists on our roster and dive deeper into their art form and history with Young Audiences.
In honor of Black History Month, Young Audiences honors the many artistic and historic accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans. The first few "Artist Connect" posts will be of our artists that honor and celebrate the incredible stories of wisdom, courage and power of African-Americans through their art.
Getting to know.....Hip Hop Fundamentals
Can you tell us a little bit about your art form?
Breaking (or Breakdancing) is, to me, the coolest dance on the planet. It’s incredibly technical and physically demanding, but it’s also very innocent, spontaneous, and soulful. Breaking, created by disenfranchised New York City youth in the 1970’s, began as an informal activity, a folk dance for the young and energetic. Since then, it has grown to be a youth-driven International phenomenon, and its inclusive nature allows for all ages, cultures, abilities, and individuals to create a home and find identity inside the Breaking circle. It’s entertaining, expressive, and unlike any other dance in the world.
How did you first hear about Young Audiences? What made you decide to become a roster artist?
Young Audiences approached Hip Hop Fundamentals in 2013, and we quickly realized that we wanted to collaborate with them. After working with other agencies, it was an uplifting experience to find an organization who truly cared about presenting quality arts education, getting programming to communities in need, and also looking after roster artists. Breaking is a very specific and often under-appreciated art form within Hip Hop dance, and Young Audiences embraced our art form and our teaching style, helping our company grow and succeed. I am a huge fan of the work Young Audiences has tirelessly done to simultaneously empower youth and roster artists.
How does your art form help connect students to what they are learning in school?
Where we can, we partner with schools to connect our workshops and residencies with themes, topics, or essential questions which students are currently studying in the classroom. We’ve linked everything from history and social studies to reading skills into our dancing, and because Breakdancing is so inherently creative, open, and youth-driven, it’s easy to connect its physical movements to any academic content. In terms of our assembly programs, we have performed shows which teach subjects like the American Civil Rights Movement to States of Matter in Physics. We are always looking for new ways to integrate Breaking into the classroom, as the arts can often be the most effective way to learn.
How do the lessons and skills you teach students about or through your art form apply to their everyday life outside of the classroom?
Breaking is a very dynamic, intense, and individualized dance form. To learn it, one must be disciplined, open-minded, persistent, and healthy. When we teach the dance in a community or classroom setting, students have to work together in small and large groups, practicing teamwork, confidence, and authoritative skills. Breakers also have to be creative, and learning Breaking (through our workshops or assembly programs) teaches an appreciation for diversity. Breaking (and Hip Hop) culture in general is a powerful example of diversity of culture, style, and ways of thinking. There’s a long list of positive influences which Breaking can provide, and to us, our art form is the perfect way for young people to practice life skills while having fun.
Why do you believe it is important for every student to have access to the arts?
To quote Pearl Schaeffer, my Arts Integration professor from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, “The arts let you be challenged without ever being wrong.” The arts require thought, action, and emotion simultaneously. The arts, particularly dance, utilize all parts of our brains. Every student needs:
-A variety of ways to process information
-A community and a safe space
-An emotional outlet
-A series of never-ending (yet achievable) challenges
Because of these needs, the arts are not only important, they are vital to the growth of every student.
What are three words that describe your performances?
Dynamic, Engaging, and Fun.
What is the most rewarding aspect of becoming a Young Audiences roster artist?
Young Audiences allows me to do what I love for a living.
Where can we learn and see more about Hip Hop Fundamentals?
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank you to Mark from Hip Hop Fundamentals for providing these responses.
Remember: Young Audiences is offering a $100 discount on Hip Hop Fundamentals and five other roster artists. Available until February 15th! Find out more about that here .
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