By Candace Ali, Development Intern at Joy of Motion Dance Center
“If you like what you hear… what should you do?”
“DANCE!” The students, teachers, parents, and lovers of Joy of Motion Dance Center couldn’t help but scream the obvious answer to this question. The annual Motion Expressions Concert: The heART of Hip Hop is the performance component of JOMDC’s Motion Express outreach program. The event was full of energy, rhythm, and laughter as students from five DC middle and high schools engaged in an interactive event at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Tuesday morning.
DCypher Dance took the stage with upbeat choreography, vibrant dancers, and flawless movements. Their piece “Snack Time!” set the tone for an exciting portrayal of the world of hip hop, while using music favored by their young audience, such as “Spongebob Squarepants” and “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time.” Students were also engaged in learning new components of hip hop. They learned the four elements of hip hop: breakdancing, rapping, DJing, and MCing. In addition, parents, students, and toddlers got out of their seats to join choreographer Aysha Upchurch to learn new movement and rhythms to connect themselves to the four principles of hip hop, which included peace, love, unity, and having fun.
Students also learned how hip hop’s signature moves stem from other dance forms, such as tap dance. A student from Washington Middle School for Girls shared after the show, “I liked the dances. I feel like I want to learn more about dance and dancing hip hop.”
The concert also allowed students to share their skills on stage. Students from Stuart Hobson Middle School and Phelps High School performed, and blew the audience members away with their dance moves, including breakdancing and freestyle. Stuart Hobson began their piece with a beautiful solo by a female guitarist singing “We’re Gonna Win,” emphasizing that despite what others say about your dreams you can rise above the negativity and succeed, a message that the audience embraced. One student performer from Phelps High School said “I was really scared before we had to go on stage, but I was so comfortable when I was performing. I really liked doing it.”
While hip hop culture can get a bad rap, Aysha Upchurch reminded us that “hip hop is more than just clothes and lyrics. It comes from a beautiful place.” Guests of Motion Expressions were able to recognize that hip hop encompasses more than the cat daddy and the top rock. They were encouraged to dance, sing, and explore the elements of hip hop, and made it loud and clear when they liked what they heard. For more information about JOMDC’s Motion Express outreach program, please click here.