Hip-hop gets some real respect
Hip-hop is moving from the streets to the theatre, thanks to the The Mixing It Up initiative.
The British Council South African Arts Forum project aims to change the idea that hip-hop's only a street thang.
It's an adaptation of a similar one in the UK, in which hip-hop has been successfully integrated into theatre.
Mixing It Up will showcase the participants' original work under the guidance of expert choreographers.
The performers were selected from the Sweat Week workshops and closed auditions in November and January.
They are now participating in a series of development workshops facilitated by experienced local hip-hop, dance and theatre practitioners.
Award-winning dancer Mamela Nyanza will share her expertise, while Kwesi Johnson will facilitate master classes after the event to encourage participants to make a positive contribution to the local arts industry.
DJ Switch, who is one of the facilitators, says the hip-hop culture is a form of expression that includes dance, music, graffiti - and it's all about expressing yourself in positive ways.
"This project is about taking dancers and teaching them to incorporate other dance styles into their own - traditional African dance and many other dance styles," he says.
"You need to not only show off your skill but must be able to articulate it through story telling, mixed dance styles, music and words.
"It's time people see that this is art."
"The idea of the showcase is to empower the performers to package their craft and manage their brands and to be able to export their work for the enrichment of international audiences."
He says audiences can also expect to be entertained with DJing, rapping, graffiti and trendy streetwear brands.
Facilitator Emile Jansen of Heal the Hood project in Cape Town says hip-hop encourages youth to break away from gang culture.
Terry Sauls, a dancer who grew up in Mitchell's Plain, Cape Town, says it has kept him out of trouble.
"Ironically it's something I learnt on the streets. I've been dancing since the age of 14. I watched my friends go astray with gangs and drugs, but this genre kept me focussed.
"People need to realise that hip-hop is more than rap music and negative elements. It's a culture, a state of mind, a knowledge of self. It's about being humble and respectful - not about the baggy clothes and swearing," he says.
"I'm grateful that I'm part of something that will change perceptions."
The festival is on at the University of Johannesburg theatre on March 7 and 8 and at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town March 10-11.
A line-up of the best hoppers and poppers
the participants include:
Lee-Che Janecke, a member of Vintage who fuses dance with elements of fashion, art, theatre and life.
Tarryn Alberts, who won the title of Krump Queen of SA last year and performed alongside DJ Black Coffee for his record-breaking 60 hour set for the Guinness Book of World Records.
Razeen van Rooyen will show off the art of popping - a dance style that incorporates the rhythmic contraction of the dancer's muscles and pantomimed movements, usually to funk or hip-hop music. He was in the first SA National team that competed in the World Hip-Hop Championships in Los Angeles six years ago.
Soweto's Finest, who made the township dance genre isbhujwa popular.
Philly, also a versatile singer and drummer from Adverse dance crew.
Tickets at Computicket - R50 and R30 for students.