Houston’s hip hop happening: defying gravity through dance

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HIStory Dance Crew

Photo by Todd Spoth

Houston is a hip-hop hub. So say the mover-shaker team at Dance Houston, the city’s leading presenter of local crews. “H-Town Get Down” actually gets down at 7:30 Friday night at Warehouse Live for a one-of-a-kind dance party /performance event featuring the best of local troupes, including Wyld Styl8th EditionPlanet FunkHIStory, Fly, Inertia, Home Grown and the award-winning Alpha Phi Alpha step group from University of Houston.

Mr. Wiggles, of the historic Rock Steady Crew, will be performing and judging bboy battles. Local DJs, graffiti and airbrush artists will be in the house as well.

Mr. Wiggles and Mike Song from Kaba Modern, one of the top three crews on MTV’s first season of America’s Best Dance Crew, will be teaching master classes on Saturday at SoReal Dance Studio. “We asked the troupes who they most admire, and the answer turned out to be Mr. Wiggles,” says Andrea Cody, Dance Houston’s founder and executive director.

“H-Town Get Down” is Cody’s  brainchild; she has presented numerous hip hop events, along with her ever-popular city-wide dance festivals. After finding out that Wortham and Hobby were not quite the right venues, Cody got the idea of moving the show into Warehouse Live.

“We are bringing it back to the ground level. It’s more of an event experience. It’s interactive and more like a party. People can mingle, tune in and out, depending on what interests them,” Cody says. “I imagine dancing, and some impromptu battles. Audiences will have a chance to show off what they have.”

Cody has single handedly raised the awareness of the bounty of hip hop talent in this city, forging a relationship between the concert and street dance community.

“It all started when I invited various hip hop groups to be part of our city-wide festivals. There were so many good ones we realized that the whole lineup could be hip hop,” Cody says.  “Then I thought, why not do a totally hip hop event?”

She knows the hip hop world inside and out. Each group represents a different  flavor in the hip hop ecology of Houston.

“There’s 8th Edition, who fuse salsa and hip hop,” Cody says. “There are trained Latin dancers who infuse their work with the latest trends. They are so unique to Houston.”

HIStory (of America’s Best Dance Crew) will be showing their latest creations, along with up and comers like Inertia, made up of top students from  Westside High School, are also in the mix.

“They just got back from China,” Cody says. “They have an amazing program at Westside. It’s very competitive.”

After spotting the University of Houston Alpha Phi Alpha step team on MTV, Cody invited them to come aboard.

“They won the central region Sprite Step Off,” she said. “We tracked them down. They are awesome, and add a whole other element to the mix.”

Planet Funk has been part of the Dance Houston family since the get-go.

“They are like a rock in the community, a beacon for people to join the scene,” Cody says. “It’s important to foster cross pollination.”

Planet Funk founder Shawn Welling sees Dance Houston the same way.

“It’s great how Andrea gets all these crews together,” says Welling, who will be showing his Electric Light Circus 14 Fire & Ice. “It’s friendly and competitive. It’s also wonderful to show our work in both a traditional theater and a place like Warehouse Live.”

Dance Houston, now in its eighth year, is known as one of the city’s most diverse dance presenters, especially focusing on groups that may be under the radar of most dance audiences. They have just launched their Spotlight series, which has taken such troupes as Revolve Dance Company and Urban Souls on tour to Katy, Clear Lake, Stafford and The Woodlands. During the summer, they turn into a dance camp machine with “Young and Intense,” their summer intensive for ages 7-17.

A national title holder in Lindy Hop, Cody finds swing dance and hip hop share much of the same lineage rooted in an African American aesthetic.

“Hip hop is fun, entertaining, young and fresh,” she says. “It’s always surprising me in the way dancers pushes beyond the limits of what we know the body can do. It’s about defying gravity.”

Reprinted from Culturemap.

 

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