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Urban Artistry dancers show how it’s popping

Urban Artistry dancers show how it’s popping

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The various styles of Urban Dance were on display last week, as the Urban Artistry dance group from Washington D.C. graced the shores of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

The group, which arrived in country on Thursday, September 29, held a two-day workshop on Urban Dance and also interacted with primary schools. They ended their visit with a showcase on Saturday, at the Peace Memorial Hall.

Deputy Public Affairs Officer Rachael Zaspel told SEARCHLIGHT that during the first workshop on Thursday at the Peace Memorial Hall, the visit of the Urban Artistry group provides a forum for engaging with the youth of St. Vincent. The group will also visit St. Lucia and Barbados.

Zaspel stated that the US Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean has its focus on an initiative dubbed the Caribbean Basin Security initiative, which is a cooperative agreement between the United States and the nations in the Eastern Caribbean and all over the Caribbean region to work on security initiatives.

She added that focal points of the initiative include drug trafficking, social justice and engaging youth, which is where Urban Artistry comes in.

“…We hope to inspire them (youth) to pursue positive things in life, rather than the not so positive. That’s the main reason why we bring people like Urban Artistry to St. Vincent so that we can engage in youth, help develop local communities and inspire people to move in positive directions,” Zaspel said.

The Urban Artistry team, made up of dancers Emily Wessel, who is also Director of Operations within the organization, Executive Director Junior Brickhouse, and Artistic Directors Latasha Barnes, Baronhawk Williams, Brent Talley and Oluwatoyin Sogunro were engaged in workshops with primary school students, in addition to the two energized workshops where Vincentian dancers learned Urban dance styles.

Executive Director of Urban Artistry Junior Brickhouse told SEARCHLIGHT that Urban Dance is a term used to describe dance styles which originated in urban areas in the US. The term, he added, is also used instead of “street dance’ which he indicated had a negative connotation.

“Street dance for a lot of us just had a negative connotation. Number one, a lot of us didn’t learn on the street; number two a lot of us were doing the dances in other places…” he said.

He added that urban dance styles include Bgirling, Bboying, popping, locking, wacking and krumping, among others.

Operations Manager of the organization Emily Wessel who does Bgirling, shared that there is more to Urban dance than just hip hop dance, but each dance style has its own unique story and culture.

“I studied economics and anthropology in school and I was very interested in the migration from the south to the cities and realized that the dances had come from the south to the cities…” she said, adding that different dances from different cultures were combined to form various dance styles.

On Thursday, the workshop participants were taught the basics of Popping and Wacking dance styles.

“It was gun, I enjoyed it!” a hyped Kanille Brudy of the Ecom Urban Expression Dance Company stated after the workshop. Also of the Arabesque Dance Company, Brudy stated that having seen such dance styles on television and the Internet, he was glad to have learnt them. Rochel Franklyn also of Ecom Urban Expressions agreed, stating that the workshop should have been longer, as she was just starting “to feel it.” More information on Urban Artistry can be found at www.urbanartistry.org.

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