Bay Area Crews to Watch at the S.F. Hip Hop Dance Fest this Weekend (Videos)
Fans of popping, locking, turfing, and b-boying will already know what the hottest ticket in street dance is this weekend. But even if you didn't recognize any of those styles, you don't want to sleep on the San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest.
Now in its 14th year, the S.F. Hip Hop Dance Fest was the first event of its kind to focus on hip hop, and has grown into an international showcase, with this year's fest featuring performers from England, Norway, Japan, and Chile. While the goal of the HHDF has always been to "present the highest quality Hip Hop dance companies," it shows love to our local groups as well, who more than hold their own with the best in the world.
We were a little disappointed to see past favorites Loose Change, DS Players, and Groovmekanex not on the bill this year, but there's still plenty of local talent, and we've picked a couple of extra special ones to watch out for this weekend.
Mix'd Ingrdnts is a 14-member dance troupe focused on female self-empowerment. It was co-founded by Samara Atkins and Jennifer "Jen Nay" Anolin, who met while dancing for New Style Motherlode, and shared a vision of an all-female dance crew that would be a melting pot of styles and cultures. Each member specializes in a specific style of street or social dance, and the group has always been as ethnically diverse as they are in dance styles. Jen Nay told me that the group auditioned for HHDF before and didn't make it, so they are thrilled to present their piece "We are every woman," this year.
Not content to bask in glory, the members of Mix'd are hard at work creating their own 90-minute show "Breaking the Silence," which premieres in January at Laney College in Oakland. The show focuses on personal, political, and family conflicts -- with themes as diverse as finding your femininity through a masculine art like breakdancing, to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Mix'd Ingrdnts also hosts company classes, open practices, and hits the clubs regularly in an effort to create a supportive environment for women in today's hip hop scene. "We're a positive, outgoing group that wants women to be supportive of each other, because the dance world today is competitive."
Academy of Villains
Drawing on a strong Bay Area tradition of masks, intricate costumes, and theatricality in street dance laid down by groups like Demons of the Mind and PT3000, Academy of Villains has been a force to reckon with since their founding in 2009. A joint project between Christopher "Pharside" Jennings of Machine Gone Funk/Supreme Soul fame and Krystal Meraz, the group has placed in every competition they've entered, and recently took first for the US in the adult division at the 2012 Hip Hop International Dance Championships in Las Vegas.
Perhaps even more impressive, AOV wowed all of America -- and the judges -- during their run on America's Got Talent. According to Rolling Stone magazine, "Academy of Villains wowed with a performance that combined acting, intense, cohesive hip-hop moves and overall swagger. One minute the crew were making their red sleeves appear as mouths singing along to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," the next they were wilding out with slinky moves that would make Usher nod in approval." Academy of Villains rehearses, teaches, and holds open popping sessions at their studio House of Mayhem in San Mateo.
San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest runs Nov. 16-18 at The Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon (at Bay) S.F. Admission is $39.99-$75.