Posted: March 30th, 2022
Festival Title: Break it Out!
Festival Mission: Break it Out! is dance festival celebrating the LGBTQ community, and which encourages young people to be proud, strong, and confident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers, and were far more likely to have experienced bullying, depression, substance abuse, and negative attitudes towards schooling too. Involvement with music and dance can change the lives of LGBTQ young people — and their peers as well. This festival will help get all kids involved, using positive energy and creativity to generate a forward-thinking community that supports the ambitions and dreams of young people.
The dance festival will include workshops and performances by local and national organizations in a variety of styles, but will focus on hip-hop dancing, music, and art as a means to provide a high-energy engaging atmosphere accessible to all. By focusing on traditional break dancing and its acrobatic moves, the choreographers will help challenge participants while also inspiring them to reach higher and work hard to achieve their goals. It is important to solicit as much audience engagement as possible, and hip-hop provides the means by which to grab attention in an informal way.
Hip-hop has its roots as s resistance and empowerment movement, and continues to symbolize self-empowerment, pride, and joy. Social workers have found that the elements of hip-hop can serve as “a conduit to enhanced cultural competence and practice skills through the individual and community empowerment framework,” (Travis and Deepak 203). Because of the sheer diversity of hip-hop dance styles and its amenability to multiple forms of music and choreography, the festival organizers will have the opportunity to work with solo and group artists during performances and workshops. Ideally, the Break it Out! festival will tour communities all over the nation, creating a safe haven for LGBTQ youth. Hip-hop dance does have the potential to transform the cultures, communities, and the individual lives of those who participate.
3. Three Choreographers: Three choreographers stand out among the hip-hop community as providing upbeat, fresh, and innovative forms that perfectly suit the theme of Break it Out! Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker will be the headlining choreographer of the Break it Out! festival because of her ability to convey narrative events through movement, using props like chairs in unusual ways. De Keersmaeker is not typically associated with hip-hop and it is precisely because of this that her inclusion in the festival is critical. Break it Out! is about learning how to fit in, even in potentially hostile environments — developing the inner strength and wherewithal to allow external stressors to shape us, guide us, and make us stronger rather than to succumb to inertia, pain, and even death.
Tyce Dioro stresses versatility in his dance moves, which celebrate diversity while recognizing the poignant emotions that rise to the surface when young people face the difficulties of coming out in an unsupportive environment. Pushing through these difficulties with confidence and verve requires focus, strength, and discipline, which is why choreographers like these will be critical participants. Rooted firmly in hip-hop, Dioro is not afraid to explore elements of Latin dance and its correspondingly uplifting postures. Dioro’s style is nothing if not fun, and the goal of Break it Out! is to emphasize the positive and eliminate the negative as we encourage young people to empower themselves at a critical time in their lives, while also inspiring members of the community to support them.
The theme of community support is integral to Break it Out!, which is why we are also going to include Sebastian Lefrancois in the mix of key choreographers. Lefrancois’ “Romeos et Juliettes” is a perfect example of how dance shows both the need for social supports (represented by challenging partner moves) and independent ownership of personal space. Combining the work of these three hip-hop choreographers in one show will touch upon all the multiple dimensions of the Break it Out! festival, which aims to empower individuals and create stronger communities too.
4. Choreographer Press Release: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker directly addresses the issues surrounding LGBTQ youth, particularly regarding the location of intersections between self-reliance and interdependency in a community. Celebrated for her ability to capture abstractions through the concreteness of the stage and body, De Keersmaeker shows her audience how seemingly mundane movements, thoughts, and objects have deeper meanings and emotional content (Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA).
The public will organically become engaged with De Keersmaeker’s work, but it would be helpful to explain her presence in a decisively hip-hop festival as a symbol of being able to break out of one’s own personal prisons and into a greater community. For some audience members, that greater community is a supportive LGBTQ-focused environment and for others, that greater community is in the home and neighborhood, which becomes more responsive to diversity through engagement with the other. In “Rosas,” De Keersmaeker makes it her mission to show how individuals relate to one another even as they struggle to locate and celebrate their own bodies and their own unique space in the world.
Video to Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQCTbCcSxis
5. ABC Descriptive Response Paragraph: In De Keersmaeker’s “Rosas,” the array of dancers on the stage shifts in various pathways and patterns. There is palpable tension in “Rosas,” corresponding to the themes addressed in the proposed dance festival in which the LGBTQ youth are encouraged to break free from hindrances and blocks that prevent self-love and self-confidence. The dancers are anchored to their positions in space, represented by the four-legged stability of the chairs, and they long to break free with every jerky movement. Varying her phrases and motifs, the choreographer conveys both symmetry and asymmetry of forms, alternating between harmony and comfort and discordance, just as human beings address the fluctuations of their own emotions. The dance conveys musicality through kinesthesia, the movement of bodies through both positive space and negative space. Alternating the dynamics of the dancers’ physical forms, the choreographer evokes a plethora of responses in the audience, particularly as objects are moved around the stage and at different levels. Movements are sometimes fluid, and often strangely staccato. The most unique feature of De Keersmaeker’s “Rosas” is the way the choreographer seeks to integrate everyday movements and motifs with the sublime, thereby elevating seemingly mundane gestures like a chin resting on a hand or a head flipping back. Similarly, De Keersmaeker relies extensively on non-locomotor movements, more so than on the sweeping locomotion that might characterize more traditional dance forms. Another feature of the choreographer’s work is isolation, in which individual body parts move independently of others that remain still and silent like spaces between the sounds. The choreographer also uses distortion and opposition to draw the audience’s attention to awkwardly placed movements or body parts, with the shockingly angular forms of joints like ankles, elbows, and knees. Unlike traditional dance pieces, “Rosas” contains no clear climax moment, for each phrase possesses its own peaks and valleys of energy.
Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. “Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker.” Retrieved online: http://cap.ucla.edu/rosas/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Lesbian, gay, transsexual, and transgender health.” 2014. Retrieved online: http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm
De Keersmaeker, Anne Teresa
Dioro, Tyce: http://search.alexanderstreet.com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/daiv/view/work/2330197
Travis, Raphael T. & Deepak, Anne. “Empowerment in Context: Lessons from Hip-Hop Culture for Social Work Practice.” Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work. Vol. 20, No. 3, 2011.
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