Students to perform original spoken word and dance production


Jermartha Reese (9th) and Sabrina Lagos (10th) practice their hip-hop dance for the all-original dance and spoken word production on Thursday, November 19th. The free performance will start in the auditorium at 7:30pm. “I hope that [the audience likes] that we did something else and be inspired,” Ayala said.

Addie Welch, Staff Writer

Students will be performing an all-original dance and spoken word hip-hop show on Thursday, November 19th in the auditorium at 7:30pm. More than 100 dance class students have been choreographing and writing their acts for the past five weeks.

“Me and my group are doing … 10 reasons why we want to wear [the hijab],” sophomore and dance student Maryan Sahal described her spoken word performance. “It’s our choice and we’re not forced to wear it.”

Freshman Diamond Ayala’s group will be dancing. “You do a dance that’s already made but … you put it in your own way,” Ayala said.

The production, entitled Hip-Hop Elements, was made possible by a Minnesota State Arts Board grant last May. The grant brought two hip-hop artists-in-residence, Tish Jones and B-Boy J-Sun, to all four dance classes at South.

Tish Jones is a local spoken word poet, emcee, and activist who founded the nonprofit arts organization TruArtSpeaks. Jones is also affiliated with Intermedia Arts, Brave New Voices, and was named one of the City Pages “Artists of The Year” in 2007.

“[Jones] did an intense study of lyrical analysis of hip-hop songs,” dance teacher Erin Brown said. “She took five different pieces of music and the students analyzed the lyrics and really talked about what the artists were communicating … We also did some hip-hop history and more of an overview of what is hip-hop culture.”

Another component of hip-hop culture is dance. B-Boy J-Sun, a local breaker who started dancing at age 12, also came to teach students during the residency.

“He came in and taught us rocking, breaking, and some top rock, all different forms of hip hop dance,” Brown stated.

All students in Brown’s classes wrote spoken word poetry and choreographed original dances. They then chose one medium to perform during the show.

Both Sahal and Ayala mentioned being nervous for performing on stage. Neither had previous experience with spoken word or dance class at South.

“I hope that [the audience likes] that we did something else and be inspired,” Ayala said. “I don’t like being on stage at all, and [Brown] said that [dance] can help … It may seem hard, but it’s actually fun to do.”

Themes of student performances include police brutality against people of color, racial stereotypes, feminism, and LGBTQ rights. Brown also mentioned that the theme of confidence and owning your experience shines through in each act.

“I hope that [students] have discovered that each of them are artists and each of them has something to say, whether it be through words or movement,” Brown reflected. “They all have the potential to produce any kind of work they want to do.”

Admission to the Hip-Hop Elements performance is free.

“It would be awesome to have a lot of South High students come to see their peers,” Brown said. “I hope that [the audience gets] a sense of the talent and creativity of South students.”