Jackson Elementary students get visit from Houston-based dance group

Students of Chapel Hill ISD’s Jackson Elementary School were treated to a high-energy performance by Soul Street Dance Company last week.

“We do educational outreach shows to educate the culture of hip hop, the positive side of hip hop, what it is, how it started, where it comes from where it’s at now, and how we can use those tools to develop and motivate and inspire kids for future purposes,” said co-founder Cedric Hicks.

Since 2008, the Houston-based dance troupe has traveled around the world to promote education and cultural awareness. The team currently includes four dancers: Hicks, Roderick “Rock” Williams, Valencio “Vale” Martinez, and their musical maestro Sheaman Austin, also known as “DJ IV.”


Co-founder Cedric Hicks shows a Jackson Elementary student hip-hop moves.

“We grew up in rough neighborhoods around Houston,” Hicks said. “We use this platform to grow… it helped me a lot in the sense of being an individual and inspiring others like us.”

Their performances encompass all styles of hip-hop dance with a foundation of break dancing and pop and locking. They visit schools, detention centers and orphanages to share cultural differences and inspire love and unity through hip-hop.

“It’s important to us that we relate to kids more than normal just because of this urban-ness that we have,” Hicks said. “It’s fun energy that we give off. It works for us and it works for them.”

The dance company came to Tyler to perform as part of Black History Month.

“We’re here to teach confidence,” Hicks said. “We’re trying to build motivation and inspire individuals that it’s OK to be yourself. It’s OK to be leaders… want to encourage these kids to not be followers and have the confidence in themselves to be leaders.”

After the dancers got to show their young audience their skills, they invited several students, and two teachers, to show off their skills on stage. Some were hesitant while others were happy to show off for their peers. The Soul Street Dance members encouraged and praised the brave performers.

“It takes a lot of courage to come up on stage and perform in front of an audience,” Williams told the crowd.

In addition to the thumping beats of hip-hop, Soul Street’s shows encompass music from all genres, such as rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and even classical music.

“Hip hop, a lot of times, is given a bad name,” Hicks said. “But if you respect in the sense of the culture of where it came from, it came from unity, love, and peace, you’ll have a better understanding of it.”


Two Jackson Elementary School teachers bust a move on stage with one of the members of Soul Street Dance Company last Thursday.

The dynamic group of performers are also actors, athletes, and musicians, as well as songwriters. According to their website, they have earned the honor of representing the United States under the auspices of the Arts Envoys touring program from the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. In doing so, they travel to other countries to share the joy of dance, offering workshops.

“We have a dedicate program, for sure,” Hicks said. “These kids… they believe in us, they are inspired by us and really feed off the energy we give off on any stage.”

In 2017, as appreciation and recognition for their dedication, the mayor of Houston proclaimed July 3rd is Soul Street Dance Company Day.

“Life is hard, it can be challenging, it can be difficult but we have something unique to offer,” Hicks said. “This is something we’ve had for years and we get so much appreciation for it, and we appreciate the people that support as well.”

The dance company continue their travels by making a positive push for self-expression through visual artistry and the sharing of culture. They recently completed a European tour, which included the Maldives, Qatar, and Kazakhstan.

“We always enjoy ourselves,” Hicks said. “We enjoy connecting with people. We make a lot of friends on the way. We’re naturally happy on stage, we’re happy to perform… happy to inspire.”

To reach out to Soul Street Dance Company for more information, visit their website soulstreetdance.com or their social media pages @OfficialSoulStreet.

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