THE ROOTS OF HIP HOP

A dance concert especially for children and families

While all of Rainbow Dance Theatre’s concerts are family-friendly, The Roots of Hip Hop was specially designed for youth and family audiences. Artistic Directors Darryl Thomas and Valerie Bergman along with the members of the Rainbow Dance Theatre ensemble take audience members on a cultural odyssey which traces today’s popular dance style Hip Hop back to its roots in African dance and drumming. Through dynamic performances, intriguing vignettes, and audience involvement the performers trace the history of African-Americans from their home in Africa through their days of slavery up to the present, thus illustrating in a tangible way how traditions retain their connection to the past while adapting to new cultural influences.

Three modern dance fusion works are featured in the show as well as traditional West African dances with live drumming and high-powered Hip Hop dances incorporating the latest popular steps. With a stunning full-stage inner-city backdrop by artist John Tyler III, Street Suite delivers the latest Hip Hop steps woven into modern choreography that explores the nature of relationships in the inner city. It includes a duet, Plantation Lullaby, set to music by Bobby McFerrin, and performed by artistic directors Bergman and Thomas. One Village, Many Tribes, termed by Sheryl Dare of the Honolulu Advertiser “a pull-out-the-stops celebration of drumming and dancing that pays homage to world-dance and –music influences”, heats up the stage with African and AfroCaribbean rhythms, melodies and movement and weaves them into a physical expression of the unifying nature of dance among the world’s people. Light Flight combines African-inspired choreography with the latest electro-luminescent wire technology.

Costumes made exclusively with electro-luminescent wire allow the audience to literally watch light dance through space as a darkened stage becomes host to creatures of light, from a puppet caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, to “humanoids” flying through space.

Popping and locking, club, freestyle, krumpin’ and break dancing are all featured in the Hip Hop dances included in the first act of the show. Additional vignettes illustrate voguing, hamboning, and stepping. All audience members are involved as they learn to “vogue”. Volunteers from the audience are also brought up on stage to learn the electric slide and to accompany a West African dance by playing traditional West African percussion instruments. Audience participation throughout the show and a fast-moving pace keep young viewers engaged, while the informative history and highly-charged dance performances add another layer of interest for adult audience members. As in all of the RDT shows, the audience is a part of an entertaining and provocative evening of dance featuring vigorous, muscular and complex choreography which mixes African Dance and Hip Hop with gravity-defying partnering and a high-impact, rapid-fire style of Modern Dance.

*The Roots of Hip Hop is also presented in a one-hour format which includes Hip Hop and West African dance performances, verbal narrative and audience participation and can be performed in schools, gymnasiums, outdoor stages and small auditoriums.