Clas/sick Hip Hop
featuring Rennie Harris and Daniel Bernard Roumain
Fri–Sat, Nov 30–Dec 1 • 8 pm • YBCA Forum
Advance tickets: $15 Regular • $10 students and YBCA members
At the door: $20 Regular • $10 students and YBCA members
FREE for YBCA:You
“Just because we work in a building with high ceilings and glass walls don’t mean we don’t watch YouTube…”
— Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Director of Performance
What happens when you pair an up-and-coming composer/virtuoso violinist with five hip-hop dance acts on the same stage? We call it Clas/sick Hip Hop—a two-night mini-festival featuring legendary hip hop pioneer Rennie Harris, trail-blazing b-girl Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, Montreal's b-boy Arthur “Lil Crabe” Cadre, Bay Area new comers Ladia Yates and I Dummy, and composer/virtuoso violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain in a mashup of music and movement you won’t want to miss.
Internationally renowned award-winning choreographer Rennie Harris is hailed as one of the godfathers of hip hop in America. With his company, Rennie Harris PureMovement (founded in 1992), he brought hip-hop dance to the concert stage as an alternative to the stereotypes and negative images of it created by television and to recognize its myriad influences, inventive spirit, and potential to bring people together.
Better known as Rokafella, Ana Garcia burst through the concrete ceiling of the male-dominated hip hop scene. Through her music, dance, and recent film All the Ladies Say, highlighting the lives of six iconic female street dancers, she has become a mentor to the many young b-girls now emerging worldwide.
Richmond-born Ladia Yates and 19-year-old Oakland native Levi “I Dummy” Allen provide a look at the diversity of dance styles overtaking the Bay Area. One of the rising stars of the Bay Area hip hop scene, Ladia has been described as “the Queen of Jookin;” I Dummy wowed the So You Think You Can Dance judges during his audition for Season 8 with his turf (“taking up room on the floor”) dancing.
Daniel Bernard Roumain melds his classical music roots with his own cultural references and vibrant musical imagination. He has carved a reputation for himself as an innovative composer, performer, violinist, and band leader and is perhaps the only composer who has collaborated and performed with Philip Glass, Cassandra Wilson, Bill T. Jones, and Lady Gaga.
Let's consider exercising Soul as pedagogical pivot point. Both "soul" in terms of the empathic transcendant, and also soul as in the tradition of African-American descended iterations of music, text, and movement... Let's contemplate the body in motion through the frame of orisha tradition...better yet, let's imagine Brahms as vodoun priest...Bach as Santeria babalao...
Or, let's imagine you and me saw Mark Morris last night, got lost on our way home, and here we sit, on the corner of 89th and MacArthur in East Oakland. There's a turf battle happening at the Youth Uprising community center, and you might be a little intimidated by the young dancers or the loud music, but swear to god, you JUST saw Karole Armitage last night, and there's something oddly familiar here, in Deep East, about the innovation, and elasticity, and the swagger...
The premise of Clas/sick Hip Hop was originally organized around the compulsion to prioritize the jazz intellect in curatorial practice, and to respond to two central questions that I'd like YBCA to investigate:
- How do we measure the trajectory of classic American movement vocabulary beyond academically defined structures?
- Where does contemporary social dance fit in this trajectory, and how do we assess and embrace its rapidly changing form as it takes literal new shape across the domestic landscape and transposed within international bodies?
Our response to these questions is a two night mini-festival that supports five 'post-hip hop' dancers from around the world in an exciting collaboration with one of the foremost classical composers working today. The goal is to "normalize" the movement vocabulary of 21st century social dance within the framework of a high end contemporary arts center, bridging classical and jazz music forms to the continuum of urban dance.
YBCA chooses to maintain its commitment to presenting risk takers of the highest caliber, and makes an additional pedagogical leap by challenging artists to locate new and unorthodox collaborations at our institution. Clas/sick Hip Hop engages this institution and some of the artists we love in an activist curatorial philosophy, and stakes a unique claim in performance that will only happen on our stages. We articulate a sense of added pedagogical agency to the notion of the "jazz intellect", the under reported cerebral intonations of improvisation, particularly as manifested in African American culture. Clas/sick Hip Hop disrupts the conventional narrative of social dance as removed from the continuum of modern dance, but uses the musical vocabulary and score of modern dance in order to drive home the argument. Welcome to class...
Director of Performance
Rennie Harris (born Lorenzo Harris on January 28, 1964) is a dancer, choreographer, artistic director, and professor of hip-hop dance. Harris formed the first and longest running hip-hop dance touring company, Rennie Harris Puremovement, in 1992. In 2007, he conceived another touring company, RHAW, or Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works.
In addition to touring with his companies, Harris teaches the technique and history of hip-hop dance in its various forms. Versed in popping, Campbellocking, house dance, GQ, b-boying and hip hop (proper), he continues teaching at universities in the U.S. and internationally. Harris also organizes an annual hip-hop dance festival, Illadelph Legends of Hip-Hop Festival, which brings together the original hip-hop street dances and the pioneering legends to give lectures and mentor students from around the world.
Harris has received numerous awards for his theatrical hip-hop dance performances or what he refers to as "hip-hop concert dance." He is known for such works as Rome & Jewels, Facing Mekka, 100 NAKED LOCKS, Heaven, and a host of innovative repertory works which have broken many stereotypes and expectation of hip-hop dance. After receiving an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in Hip-Hop from Bates College, Harris' company was chosen as one of four U.S. companies to serve as cultural ambassadors for President Obama's "Dance Motion USA" and will be touring the Middle East.
Daniel Bernard Roumain
Having carved a reputation for himself as an innovative composer, performer, violinist, and band leader, Haitian-American artist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) melds his classical music roots with his own cultural references and vibrant musical imagination. Proving that he’s "about as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets" (New York Times), DBR is perhaps the only composer who has collaborated and performed with Philip Glass, Cassandra Wilson, Bill T. Jones, and Lady Gaga. He's received commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Library of Congress, and the sports channel ESPN. He's appeared on American Idol (FOX), America’s Assignment (CBS Evening News), E:60 (ESPN), and been voted one of the "Top 100 New Yorkers" (New York Resident), "Top 40 Under 40 Business People" (Crain’s New York Business), "Top 5 Tomorrow’s Newsmakers" (1010 WINS Radio), and spotlighted as a "New Face of Classical Music" (Esquire magazine). Most recently DBR created an evening-length work, Symphony for the Dance Floor, for the 2011 BAM Next Wave Festival and ASU Gammage, and composed music for the Atlanta Ballet, Home in 7, with the choreographer Amy Seiwert and the poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph. http://www.dbrmusic.com/
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia
Ana “Rokafella” Garcia is a Spanish Harlem-born hip-hop dancer and choreographer. Rokafella danced with such crews as The Transformers and The Breeze Team before joining the hip hop dance company GhettOriginal. She has appeared in music dance videos such as Fabulous’ “Young’n (Holla Back).” Rokafella is the co-founder of Full Circle Productions, a hip-hop artist collective. She sings and rhymes with The Orphans and has appeared in Soular Power’d, a hip-hop theatre show, and the short film On the Outs. Rokafella has done work for artists like Will Smith, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Tito Puente, to name a few. A multitalented artist, she had one of her poems published in a Bronx poets’ anthology and also wrote the hard-hitting introduction to We B*Girlz, the book by Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer about female breakers. In 2006, she organized “We B*Girlz Sit-downs” across the United States, as forums for hip-hop activists to discuss the role of women in hip hop. Roka represents the positive image of a woman confident in both her Puerto Rican and hip-hop cultures. She believes hip hop was born to help urban youth survive the ups and downs of life with something of their own to hold on to.
Ladia Yates, a California Bay Area native, was discovered to possess a natural talent for dance and love for music at an early age. In 2006, Ladia took a leap of faith and moved to Memphis, Tenn. She stumbled across something that revolutionized her personal style of dance. She was introduced to a local form of dance called "Memphis Jookin’." Jookin’ was the springboard she needed to elevate her God-given talent to another level. With much hard work, discipline and dedication, she continued to increase her credibility within the world of street dance. While in Memphis, she took advantage of every chance by participating in talent shows and major dance battles throughout the state of Tennessee and won every single one. Ladia's efforts have gained her nationwide exposure and recognition. Ladia continues to shock fans with her unique dance style, which is a phenomenal combination of old school pop/lockin', ballet, vogue, jazz, jookin', traditional belly dance and turfin' as evidenced by over 500,000 views on YouTube. Ladia's life mission is to share her distinctive gift with the world and inspire others, whether new or experienced, to believe in the power of dance. As she is actively carves out a niche in the dance world, she hopes to inspire others to find their unique place in dance and soar, too!
Arthur “Lil Crabe” Cadre is among the international hip hop community’s rising dance stars, born in France and living in Montreal with an increasingly global following. Blending contortionism, hand balancing, acrobatics, and yoga, Lil Crabe’s signature movement style has garnered praise and awards from the international breakdancing community and television media, and his You Tube videos have been seen an aggregate of 1 million times across the world. Television appearances include Canal Plus’ “Tracks”, Arte’s “Riding Zone”, and semi final round showcases in Europe’s international breakdancing competition “Trickonometry Europe”, and M6’s “France has Got Talent”. At 21, Lil Crabe has earned degrees in engineering and architecture, while continuing a global touring schedule and working with the dance crew Clan Dest 1 and the Freerunners Parkour crew the West Coast Family. He is making his YBCA debut at Clas/sick Hip Hop.
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YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Arts
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.
YBCA Performance 12-13 is made possible in part by:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 12-13:
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Panta Rhea Foundation
New England Foundation for the Arts
and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts