East Baton Rouge Parish School System collaborative dance showcase spotlights hip hop







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Members of McKinley Senior High School’s dance program rehearse for East Baton Rouge Parish School system’s inaugural collaborative dance showcase, “A Tribute to 50 Years of Hip Hop.” 




Jay-Z isn’t the first to describe hip-hop as a culture, but he probably painted the best picture of it when talking about what it personally means to him.

“Wherever I go, I bring the culture with me, so that they can understand that it’s attainable,” the musician said. “I didn’t do it any other way than through hip-hop.”

Now the dance programs of 15 elementary, middle and high schools are coming together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this culture in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system’s inaugural collaborative dance showcase.

The show opens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at Independence Park Theatre, 7800 Independence Blvd.







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Members of Sherwood Middle School’s dance program rehearse for East Baton Rouge Parish School system’s inaugural collaborative dance showcase, “A Tribute to 50 Years of Hip Hop.” 




“We have six elementary schools, five middle schools and four high schools, which is right at 200 students in the show,” said coordinator Jeoffery Harris Jr., dance curriculum and instructional specialist for East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. “This showcase is the result of a vision to bring together dancers and their respective dance departments, districtwide to share their passion for movement and expression. It is not only a celebration of hip-hop, but it is our first production.”

Harris plans for the showcase to be an annual event with each production taking on a different theme. But hip-hop, its music, dances and culture is first in the spotlight.

So, what exactly is hip-hop? The Kennedy Center, on its website kennedy-center.org, describes it as “global, lapping on every shore and landing at every airport.”

“But what does hip-hop mean?” the website continues. “Is it the music with a chest-thumping beat? The rapid-fire lyrics rapped into a handheld mic? Gravity-defying dance steps? Writers turning walls into canvases with larger-than-life letters and illustrations?”

So, what’s the definition?







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Members of Park Forest Elementary School’s dance program rehearse for East Baton Rouge Parish School system’s inaugural collaborative dance showcase, “A Tribute to 50 Years of Hip Hop.” 




“The answer is all of the above — and more,” the website states. “Hip-hop embraces these artistic elements, most definitely. But it also has blended and transcended them to become a means for seeing, celebrating, experiencing, understanding, confronting and commenting on life and the world. Hip-hop, in other words, is a way of living — a culture.”

Hip-hop popped up on the scene 50 years ago in New York City’s Bronx neighborhood.

“Times were tougher than usual for the poorer parts of urban America,” the website continues. “From a whole lot of nothing — and a whole lot of imagination — hip-hop took form.”

And it will be in full form when the young dancers representing the school system take Independence Park Theatre’s stage. The program will open with all of the dancers on stage then continue with each school program performing its own choreographed dance.

Participating schools in the lineup are the Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts, Crestworth Elementary, Forest Heights Elementary, Park Forest Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Scotlandville Middle, Park Forest Middle, Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet, Westdale Middle, McKinley Middle Magnet, McKinley Senior High, Baton Rouge Magnet High and Northeast High.







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Members of Westdale Middle Schoo’s dance program rehearse for East Baton Rouge Parish School system’s inaugural collaborative dance showcase, “A Tribute to 50 Years of Hip Hop.” 




All students will be wearing identically designed costumes which will incorporate their individual school colors.

“Starting with this one, our annual showcase will, of course, promote dance in the district and their different styles,” Harris said. “This will be a powerful showcase of diversity and inclusion in East Baton Rouge Parish school system.”

Tickets are $10 and available only at the door.

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