Sunday, November 22, 2009

UNRATED: "2009 Eleventh Annual San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest"

To most people not familiar with Hip Hop, the very phrase 'Hip Hop' conjures up pictures of boys wearing sideways baseball caps and sagging their trousers down below their rear ends, and heavily made up women in high top sneakers with lots of tattoos. The music has one beat and it is incessant and the lyrics are frequently misogynistic and racist. Skateboards may or may not be involved.

Above all, it is a black art form. Right?

Wrong. Hip Hop has become so mainstream at this point that its style of dress, dance, music and countercultural vibe has taken the entire world by storm. This was easy to see Friday and Saturday nights on stage at the Palace of Fine Arts, where the 2009 Eleventh Annual San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest brought in dance groups not only from the SF Bay Area, but also from as far away as England, Ireland, Norway, South Korea and Japan. B-Boy Spaghetti, seen on top, is a hip-hop dancing Persian who comes from Norway. How diverse can we get?

The performers were men, women, young, old(er), black, white, brown and everything in between. They hipped and they hopped but many were obviously trained as well in classical ballet to say nothing of the martial arts and acrobatics. No one appeared to have any elbow or knee sockets. As far as the taped accompanying music, this reviewer had never heard of any of the artists, with the exception of Beyonce and Britney Spears. DJ this and MC that? Daft Punk? Busta Bust? The Muthafunkaz?

But that's what it's all about, isn't it? A new generation's music might be impenetrable to a reviewer whose knees ache just watching these kids dance, but the performers' buoyant spirit, athleticism and artistry explode off the stage. Of the second night's performers, two acts stand out for originality and personality: L.A.'s Versa-Style Dance Company who did an extraordinary piece while seated on chairs as if they were driving on the freeway, and the two person company (Buddha Stretch and Uko Snowbunny) (!) from New York called MopTop Music and Movement whose hip-hopping Super Mario Brothers characters were priceless and infectiously personable. Assuming Snowbunny was the female, she has got one gorgeous smile.

Fun. Nothing but fun. When organizer Micaya brings a new show back to SF next year, it's bound to be every bit as super. Watching these dancers is a treat.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Awards Division will not rate this show because it is a collection of individual performances with no cohesive theme, unless the theme might be "Dancing in the Face of Disaster," or maybe " the Face of your Parents." Whatever. These kids are on the right road. If, as they claim, Hip Hop is a way of life as well as an art form, the next generation is going to turn out just fine.


2009 Eleventh Annual San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
Nov 20-22

No comments: