Keep the Hands High

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Urban Sol

Urban Sol!

           

Damn, I still can’t get over last Friday. Urban Sol exploded and flared into the night. Cyphers of dancers were grooving long past the point where I was falling asleep, the moon almost below the horizon. It was seriously some controlled chaos at ASU. Urban Sol definitely made Tempe & Hip Hop history as well this weekend. We might have broken a few windows with the beats. Really. Lemme break the night down for you:

  • Furious Styles Crew took home the bacon in the 5-on-5 battles, though every crew gave it everything they had and put on an amazing show. I was seriously blown away by these b-boys & girls. It was intense but it was all fun at the same time, showing true breaking spirit in the aggression but also the respect all dancers had for one another. Unbelievable moments a-plenty. The amount of work and raw passion that obviously went into every crew’s performance was inspiring. Y’all put Hollywood to shame with your moves!
dopeness! Get it Kyle

dopeness! Get it Kyle

  • • Conducting all the madness on the turntables, the winner of the DJ competition was selected in a classic audience-response style. That means screams. DJ Panic succeeded in gaining the most hype, taking home a cool 200$ & some definite bragging rights for beating out local hero DJ Tiger (dude even had his own signature tiger noise!). All four DJ’s of the night kept the energy more live than Frankenstein taking a lightning bolt from Zeus. That’s the only way to describe the music they chose, ranging from old school hip hop, funk, 80’s music (dancin’ with myself, oh oh oh-oh!), all through the 90’s and some stuff so new, not even the trendiest of college kids could keep up!
DJ Panic

DJ Panic

      • • & of course, New Breedz (link), the Urban & Funk ensembles, Juke Kids & everyone else who took the stage blew us all away. The acts of the night covered all 4 corners of Hip Hop, with each act doing their own unique take on their art. Real incredible talent, all around.
      takeflight

      takeflight

      • • The graffiti wall was also signature and unique. Audience members gave away shoes, shirts, sweaters, (one guy brought a clock) amongst other things that were nailed to the canvas and painted on, giving the final piece a three-dimensional aspect. Take a look:

      house house us

@ ASU:


King Charles, of Footworkingz, proclaimed by his city as the monarch of Chicago Footworkin’ at age 14, was our guest artist for the Urban program last week. I attended a class session led by him and left with five new callouses. I left convinced this man had the fastest, most intricate movement even possible for the human body to do.


Chicago Footwork is a high energy, lower-body focused style that is purely unique to the Windy City. King Charles & the Footworkingz are on a mission to spread their passion around the nation & the globe, taking the breath away from their audience at every performance. The dance is usually done to songs at around 180 bpm, so you can imagine the intensity involved. Actually, you can’t. You can only watch and be amazed:


King Charles taught us all about dedication and believing in your artwork. Being the King of anything isn’t easy, so as the leader of his own style of dance King Charles is a living lesson to dancers & all artists to believe in what you have to offer to the world, and to pursue that with everything you got. The amount of sweat this guy gives to his style every day is a testament to what it takes to be a professional chasing their dreams. Keep it movin’ King! Big ups to you & thanks from ASU for the inspiration!

 

Freshy Fresh Archie Burnett

Freshy Fresh Archie Burnett

 

These next two weeks belong to Archie Burnett, true dance veteran & legend from Brooklyn. Archie has spent the past two decades working on a documentary entitled “Check Your Body at the Door,” a study into the lives of New York dancers and how they get by, why they do what they do, & also a striking look at the many different moves seen in his home city.


Archie himself is a guru of dance, a connoisseur of movement & music. Don’t miss the chance to share with him at his workshop the evening of Friday, April 11th. (FAC 28, 5$!) This is also the last workshop of the year, so don’t miss out on the fun!

 

comeasyouare
Archie Burnett is also hosting the aforementioned Come as You Are Ball, on April 18th. This is going to rival Urban Sol as ASU’s Hip Hop event of the year. No doubt it will be a night you will never forget! Tickets are 15$ at the door, but presales can be had for 8$ (here’s your hookup for that presale price y’all, post your name & email & you’ll get the link for half price!)

  • • Love Hip Hop? Of course you do. Deepen your knowledge of the culture at the Check Your Body at the Door film screening! No matter what you’re into, knowing more about a culture you’re unfamiliar with will help your own pursuits.

Even if you’re already a certified Hip Hop head, you’ll definitely learn something new, or at least have a lot of fun (: BE THERE! This is going down in PEBE East, April 14th, at 8 p.m. I’m bringing munchies!

  • • ASU’s Urban Arts Club is also hosting a panel discussion April 16th, PEBE East (room 132) at 7 – 10 pm. We’ll be gettin’ all scholarly; discussing gender & sexuality in art & our society. Get Educated!
Steven Yazzie

Steven Yazzie

This week’s art spot is a focus on Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, a local Phoenician and Tohono O’odham Native American. His style combines graffiti & traditional Native motifs, to create something that’s well, really just indescribable. If you live here, you’ve probably seen his work saving Phoenix from the despair of white-washed monotony downtown. Take a peek at some of his lesser known work:

breeze & sliim

Breeze (shot by PHX New Times)

Breeze (shot by PHX New Times)

breeze & slim

taken by Chris English

taken by Chris English

steven yazzie

steven yazzie

Breeze

Breeze

Halloween in April

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Wild West Hip Hop

Janda
Urban Sol is a-comin’ my people! This Friday (4/4), ASU’s Tempe Campus will be conquered by Hip Hop. The Galvin Playhouse (the Southwest section of campus) will be a beautiful horde of artists, professionals, and students alike breakin’, graffin’, deejayin’, and emceein’. Reunited at last, the four elements of Hip Hop, all in one place at one time, might just spark TOO MUCH magic & dopeness. Ancient Native American spirits will probably rise from the desert and dance with us. The city officials might mistake us for a riot. The retirees out in Sun City will reconsider their quiet, peaceful suburban blocks as Urban Sol echoes through every corner of the Valley. Whether or not the streets are shutdown, this is sure to be a night to remember, so don’t miss out!

Urban Sol is a Free event, but donations will be held for Cyphers (a beloved jewel of breaking & dance in our community) to help them relocate downtown, as well as a fundraiser in support of Jukebox studios, another staple in our artistic life here in Phoenix. Definitely show up and enjoy, but also remember to PARTicipate and do your part for the whole city.

abstractgraffiti
The graphic art portion (graphic art = graffiti.. Urban Sol 101) will be led by b-boy House, of Cypher’s Center of the Arts. Our graffiti installation is a little different this year, as clothes will be incorporated into the canvas and everyone who wishes it can have their swag tinged with tonight. The finished product is most definitely going to be out of the box & something no one’s ever done before, just another reason to do yourself the favor of being a part of all this beauty! Bring one piece of clothing to donate to the art, and one you want back to wear!

frontside
backside

Tomas Stanton (local poet, hippie & thug, ½ of Phonetic Spit) led last Friday’s workshop and open sesh, schoolin’ 20 or 30 ASU students on the art of the Spoken Word. This workshop had real relaxed, personal vibrations throughout & provided a compelling snippet of Phonetic Spit’s unique style of Spoken Word.

Tomas invited his students into the art form by starting with the foundations, showing us some of his secrets of expression. We reached into our hearts through stream-of-consciousness exercises, as Tomas pitched words and ideas, nuances and inflections to bounce off our brains and inspire our souls. “Let your spirit vomit, we’re just goin’ with what comes naturally right now.” We successfully slowed down the breakneck pace of reality and came together from a group of strangers to quickly laughing, thinking, and yes, crying together.

the other 1/2 of Phonetic Spit, Myrlin

the other 1/2 of Phonetic Spit, Myrlin

Tomas’s 3 step breakdown of writing the Truth:


1). Read & Live: “Artists are the best thieves. Nothing is original; we’re all just recycling, improving, or plain stealing ideas from other artists and scientists.” Tomas explained to us right off the bat that reading is essential to refilling that well of inspiration in your mind. Ideas from books and articles can inspire your own work and expand your worldview. Obviously, a nice cache of memories and lived experience is also crucial to the poet, whose function in the world is to show how it really is, really!


2). Write: Phonetic Spit has a unique, accessible style in performances that I feel is mostly due to this writing process. Writing, to Tomas, was mostly getting the raw feelings, the memories, & thoughts into a material form. Tomas emphasized in his workshop that in the initial writing, little to no embellishment is needed. “Fluffy” lines of description or intellectual metaphor is a more cerebral process that can detract from this stage, which is meant to simply get the feelings on paper. Contrasted with my own experience of writing, this technique will keep your poems pure and profound, rooted in the emotion that they were inspired by and not too detached by craftwork.


3) Revise: This is the time to let your mind shine. Tomas uses step 3 to bring in the techniques, the toolbox of expression. Revision to Phonetic Spit is where the raw material, the emotion, gets translated to metaphor & simile, to lines and rhymes and alliteration and assonance, whatever, to bridge your life into your audience’s!


This organization is a fail-safe way to make art out of words. Be sure to catch more intriguing knowledge like this at one of the monthly Phonetic Spit workshops, taking place in the Burton Barr Library, every third Saturday. Always fun and always enlightening, it’s also always free, so be sure to catch the inspiration and meet the people around these parts interested in the same thing.

ARCHIE BURNETT & THE BALL

01ArchieBurnett1


Does the definition of “normal” feel just a little too tight to wear?
Then slip into something more natural!

The Come as You Are Ball is kind of like the best Halloween party you ever went to, minus the Party City plastic but keep the general principle, add a whole lot of Hip Hop, stir in a dash of social change, (bring your own open mind and attitude); and you’ve got the perfect night to forever change your idea of what is “okay” and “normal” to be.


Party with the Urban program the evening of April 18th, in the Physical Education Building – East. (East of Memorial Union).


The Come as You Are Ball will be hosted by master dancer/scholar/weightlifter/teacher/world traveler/graphic artist Archie Burnett. The man’s styles go on & on, but if the words waacking, voguing, feme, posing, & punking, house, or breaking mean something beautiful to you than DO NOT MISS this man’s workshop, to be announced. Even if that last sentence sounded like the recording of a wrestling match to you, don’t miss the chance to experience and learn something new (& what’s more fun than that, really?).

mark ashkenazi JAMES DEAN

News from the Front (SAVE Cyphers Report)

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News from the Front (SAVE Cyphers)

I couldn’t help but recall the image of a battleground, watching the sweat hit the floor in the reflections of the mirror-wall at Cyphers Center for Urban Art.

The canal rippled with the shockwaves of the 200+ locals gathered to celebrate the 2 year anniversary of the studio. I stood by, amazed, watching what could only be described as bottled fury being released from AZ Krump, Cypher Squad, Drop Beat Kids, and others taking center floor. It was something close to a riot, (but all in the name of passionate art). I could feel an extra ounce of energy behind every movement. The idea that this place is closing soon did nothing but hyper-charge the performances. Each dancer existed only in those split moments between the beat, giving it everything they had in them, with the addition of their very spirit that is normally beyond the use of ordinary athletes.

I got a lucky chance to talk with House Magana, owner of Cyphers, (with Skooby Morales, of course) hip-hop veteran and black belt in breaking, about the story behind the studio, some golden moments from the past 2 years, and plans for the future:

House (who has been dancing for longer than I’ve been alive) is originally from Mexico City, moved to Chicago, and finally settled down in the Valley in the 2000’s. Not surprisingly, there were no hip hop studios in his area (near MetroCenter), and his soul was itching for movement. Along with partner Skooby Morales, they jumped on the opportunity to rent out the space for what would soon be Cyphers. The room was originally an MMA gym (quite fitting), and then a record shop, so it makes sense in sort of a heavenly-logic sort of way that a hip hop studio would come next.

scratchin

Cyphers opened its doors in 2011, with what was initially a good response from the community. Kids curious about the pounding bass emanating from the building would wander inside and be captivated by what they had previously only seen in movies. The first few months were no doubt an exciting time for House, Scooby, and the neighborhood.

The original goal was to operate as a non-profit, for Cyphers to exist purely for the good of the locals. Of course, this is quite a difficult thing to achieve at such a location in these times. It took several months before the center could decide on monthly rates, but with the help of volunteers and the constant influx of newcomers, Cyphers was able to offer free programs for schools, in public spaces, and put on special events fairly often. What started as a dream for House & Skooby soon grew to be a cherished corner of Phoenix, by all who had seen what their hard work was amounting to. Their reputation began to grow as a serious studio where kids of all walks of life could enrich their lives with the passion & culture of Hip Hop.

One such local was Graffiti artist (now intern and assistant Graff instructor at Cyphers), Trublz. I spoke briefly with Trublz about his introduction to graffiti and how he came to be involved with Cyphers. Trublz said he fell in love with the colors of graffin’ as a freshman in high school. He said he was attracted to Cyphers because of the graffiti letters on the front entrance, marking Cyphers as a stronghold of youth culture against the burning Phoenix sun. He took the opportunity available to him & soon became steeped in Hip Hop. House & Skooby digged his artwork (which he had been practicing for years at this point) and let him intern as assistant instructor for a Graff Class offered by the center.

Trublz said the chance to practice regularly (& legally) with spray paint at Cyphers helped him grow immensely as an artist. The Center had allowed him to perfect his lines and also spread his passion to other local kids who wanted to try their hands on the cans.

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Graff workshop !

Graff workshop !

Part of the beauty of Cyphers is that it plants the seeds of Hip Hop in our valley’s youth. Trublz said he plans to be a full time teacher in the future and will continue to do Graffiti art as long as life will allow. House spoke to this concept as part of the reason of why he loves what he does so much. Kids come to Cyphers to learn Hip Hop, ingrain it into their identity, and then take it as their own and spread it in their own way to the world. This growth of culture & art is essential to the health of our community and kids. Shout out to Trublz. (do your thang man)

Within the 2 years of its foundation, I asked House about some special times, favorite memories, and “golden” moments of learning. What he told me spoke volumes of the power of Hip Hop:

Cyphers was the first place one student went to after learning that his mother had passed away of cancer. The peace & comfort he gained from his connection to Cyphers goes light years beyond love. I could sense that this is exactly what House meant when he told me that Cyphers is a home to outsiders, where anyone is accepted, and a real community is formed.

House’s favorite memories of Cyphers include watching his younger students grow and develop as artists, find passion, and experience life in a brand new way. He loved watching his students gain self-confidence and learn to believe in themselves regardless of the outside world. There is no substitute for such a place in our community, this is absolutely essential.

Halfway through our conversation, I realized it was wrong of me to talk like this was the end of Cyphers. Something that meant so much to everyone involved would surely be immortal in the hearts of its students. They would remember this place for the rest of their lives as something that saved them from the Arizona Dust.

the first dance class of today, before the event began.

the first dance class of today, before the event began.

Asking about the future of Cyphers, today was indeed not the end at all. House & Skooby have already secured a new location at the Phoenix Center of the Arts, as the 7th program added to their roster. The duo has formed a good relationship with the center and there is talk of Cyphers as finally being able to operate as a full nonprofit.

I was inspired by how House & his Cyphers army had flipped the tragedy of ridiculous rent into a positive situation. Their new location downtown is more accessible to those without a car & will be a more suiting space to accommodate all forms of Hip Hop. Come March, the light rail will be packed with Bboys & girls, Graffers, DJ’s and MC’s, as well as anyone curious about what all the racket is about in the Center of the Arts.

Throughout our talk, I could sense that House is not the type to worry. He has learned to roll with the punches, deal with the stress, and flip anything to his advantage, for all of our benefit. What started as a dream shared by two, has formed a solid foundation in the heart of the Valley’s Youth, and become a dream shared by hundreds (& counting). I told House that there is no way he can fail now. He has himself an army of kids who love what they have learned at Cyphers and will follow him no matter where they relocate. Much Love to House, Skooby, & all the instructors and volunteers who bleed, sweat, and no doubt shed plenty of tears to make a dream come to life. Coming from a local kid, you guys are making this city a much better place to live and grow up in for everyone involved. You have given chances to those who otherwise would have none, made leaders of those who would be following a rough path in our desert. Stay up Cyphers.

This place was packed later that night. There are no words for the energy that was in the air.

This place was packed later that night. There are no words for the energy that was in the air.

Niko Popovich