Urban dance classes provide spring break alternative

Kansas City Hip Hop Academy member finishing a chalk drawing at the Kansas City Chalk and Walk Street Festival. This week, members of the academy will offer alternative dance classes at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

Kansas City Hip Hop Academy member finishing a chalk drawing at the Kansas City Chalk and Walk Street Festival. This week, members of the academy will offer alternative dance classes at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

Spring break means time away from school, warmer weather and the chance to hang with friends, but who knew it could be so hip? This spring break, the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H., offers an alternative dance class for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. The theme for the camp is Hip Hop Happening. Teachers and staff at the Lawrence Arts Center will be joined by artists from the Kansas City Hip Hop Academy to instruct campers on the intricacies of urban dance.

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Courtesy Kansas City Hip Hop Academy

Kansas City Hip Hop Academy member finishing a chalk drawing at the Kansas City Chalk and Walk Street Festival. This week, members of the academy will offer alternative dance classes at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

Founded in 2005, the Kansas City Hip Hop Academy was created in order to teach the art of hip-hop in a positive manner to children in the greater Kansas City area. Now, children in Lawrence have an opportunity to learn the different elements of the genre.

Instructors from the Kansas City Hip Hop Academy will be teaching campers on Monday and Tuesday of the spring break session. The arts center teachers will then build from their instructions throughout the remainder of the week. The camp will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday at the arts center, 940 N.H.

Lessons will include instructions on pop and lock and other hip-hop dance moves, but dancing will not be the only hip-hop form taught during the session. Campers will learn to write rhymes to incorporate into their own raps and how to hear hip hop rhythms and speak with the beat. A disc jockey will be on hand to teach kids about the art and technical aspects behind electronic beats and spinning.

For those students who are more visually inclined, an instructor will be there to teach campers the art of tagging, mural work and how to create the hip-hop bubble lettering. Videographer Nathan Cardiff will also be putting together a video collage of activities throughout the camp.

At 3:30 p.m. Friday, the camp will put on a Hip Hop Happening performance at the Lawrence Arts Center Theater, which is open to the public.

Candi Baker, director of the dance program at the arts center is very excited for this year’s spring break session. She emphasizes that this will not be performances the kids watch, but interactive. “It’s not about showing us what they do, but showing the kids how to do it, too.”

Baker first learned of the Kansas City Hip Hop Academy during a workshop by the Lied Center for teachers centered on arts in education last year. Roscoe Johnson, of the Kansas City Hip Hop Academy, presented at the workshop and encouraged the teachers to write a rap about to creative represent their unique qualities. Baker said she enjoyed writing and performing the rap during the workshop. Johnson then re-performed her piece, showing her how to emphasize certain aspects of her rhyme in order to create a rap.

The instructors are able to emphasize the positive aspects of hip-hop, “they give the kids a positive chance for self-expression.” Some elements of their instructions can help children with not only artistic expression, but school work, “the rhyming methods taught will help the kids with memorization techniques,” she says, “the goal of their lessons is to empower kids.”

Already, 35 students have signed up for the spring break session and the camp will quickly fill. For students who can’t attend this camp, but have an interest in hip-hop, Baker says not to fret, hip-hop and jazz dance classes are offered throughout the year, with adult classes as well.

Two teachers from the drama program, one from the dance program and one from the visual arts program will also be teaching throughout the spring break session. “I’m excited,” says Baker, “our kids get to learn something new and fun. It’s going to be a great week.”

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