Get ready for an international invasion, but don’t expect any Beatles wannabes. Hip hop dance crews from all over the globe, including South Korea, Norway, England, Ireland, New York, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, will be performing at this weekend’s 11th Annual San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest.
Where: Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon Street, San Francisco
When: November 20-21 (8PM) and November 22 (2PM and 7PM)
Tickets: $35/one program, $62 for both. www.cityboxoffice.com or 415.392.4400
Last year, Allan Ulrich at “Voice of Dance” wrote, “If the kids in your neighborhood are trading their pointe shoes for high tops, or abandoning tutus for Tupac, or jettisoning tiaras for hoodies, perhaps Micaya is to blame. The single-named choreographer last weekend produced the 10th anniversary of her San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest at the Palace of Fine Arts, and at the opening Friday evening (Nov. 21), the full audience and voluble audience response suggested that there may be one kind of dance attraction that remains impervious to a recession. When crowds linger in a lobby after a show, you know you’ve got a hit.” Sounds pretty cool, eh?
Motivated by the Bay Area hip hop dance community, founder/artistic director Micaya (she’s a single moniker woman) founded the San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest in 1999 at Theatre Artaud, establishing the first-ever festival dedicated specifically to hip hop dance. Initially, her goal was to provide a platform for the inspiring local hip hop artists, but it’s grown into a global venture that numerous people look forward to each year. Now the festival is housed at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, a 1,000 seat performing arts theater located near the Exploratorium.
Gina Rosales, executive director and performer with Bay Area-based Funkanometry SF, is psyched to be back with the DanceFest this year. Funkanometry SF is a part of Funkbrella, which, because of the increased demand in hip hop programming, now includes five different companies. The majority of Funkbrella’s demographic is young students, especially minorities and LGBTs. Many of these kids don’t have a strong support system, so Funkbrella tries “to create a welcoming and supporting environment for all of the young people in [the] companies.”
Does an audience need to know their popping from their locking? Definitely not. These shows are meant to expose people to lots of different types of hip hop dance in a friendly environment. About the audience, Rosales says these are “not your everyday dance hip hop watchers… I love doing the show for our company because it’s our time to expose ourselves to a new audience and a new demographic, and I think it’s great… because it’s our chance to really hit the spotlight for a second, you know, and get recognized for something that we’ve been doing for so long.”
And Micaya says, “[Hip hop] is definitely mainstream now. I had a lot of battles, so to speak, when I first started the festival just by using the word hip hop. When I first started, you can imagine, 11 years ago, the first thing that came to people’s minds was, “Are there going to be guns?” and negativity, and I was just like, ‘Oh my god! You’ve got to be kidding me! Just come once, and, for the rest of your life, your mind will be altered about what this image of, back in the day, that word used to put in people’s minds,’ because it’s so far from the truth of what artists are doing in the genre.”
Micaya reminded me that she’s not a spokesperson for the hip hop community, but she notes that the influence by what each personal dancer puts into the movement and how they express themselves is what makes hip hop beautiful and special. The DanceFest tries to contrast these different hip hop renditions and transformations, and New York’s Kenichi Ebina is just such an example. A self-taught dancer, Ebina mixes hip hop with ethnic dance, jazz, mime, and illusion effects using sound, light, and visuals. Bad Taste Cru, from Ireland, sometimes mix hip hop with theater, and they’re also the country’s breakdancing champions. And Last For One, from South Korea, have performed for Hillary Clinton and also were featured in the Brenson Lee’s documentary “Planet B-Boy.”
The 22 dance companies are split up into two programs: Program A is featured on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Program B is Saturday night and Sunday night.