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Free Festival Brings Hip-Hop Theater into DC Spotlight

Monday, June 21, 2010

Washington, DC—Hip-Hop is an urban art form of stories, people, music, dance, and spoken word. For many in DC, Hip-Hop and its scene is the soundtrack that defines them and their communities. The Hip-Hop Theater Festival spotlights the art at DC’s core through professional theater written by and for the Hip-Hop generation. The mission of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, coming to DC July 6–10, is to turn Hip-Hop Theater is to support innovative work from Hip-Hop and other urban forms of expression and to engage young people with this work through arts and education programs. In its ninth year, the festival is presented jointly by the Hip-Hop Theater Festival and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH).

Performers at the festival include writer and performer Holly Bass, a dancer and performer at the center of the international Hip-Hop theater movement; Paige Hernandez, DC-based trained dancer, professional actor and B-girl; and Universes’ Amerville, a Bronx-based group often described as elder statesmen of Hip-Hop, who have inspired many younger artists. The festival will feature groundbreaking film screenings, dance performances, and of course Hip-Hop shows. An on-stage contest between Hip-Hop artists will award the hottest performer.

“We are proud to invest in the preservation Hip Hop culture by supporting this pioneering theater festival and by being the only state arts agency to offer a Hip Hop community grant,” said Gloria Nauden, Executive Director of the DCCAH.

The Hip-Hop Theater Festival is also presented in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City. The festival seeks to minimize its eco-footprint through environmentally-friendly practices, and will incite dialogue through an open public forum entitled A Day on Earth: Green Ecology and Communities of Color. Programming will also play to young, urban communities. The public forum is presented in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, who have commissioned Holly Bass’s work in progress.

“The Festival provides a unique stage for Hip-Hop generation artists to harness and fine tune their work in front of friendly and familiar audiences,” said Clyde Valentin, executive director of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival. “The DC Festival is a staging ground for work that has the potential to break out and reach wider audiences.”

All events are free and open to the public. Some events are ticketed with tickets available online via RSVP, while most events are open to the public for walk-in. Individual event information can be found at www.hhtf.org or http://dcarts.dc.gov/page/annual-arts-programs

"What's great about the Hip Hop Theater Festival in DC is that because of the relationship with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, all of the tickets and events are free,” said writer and performer Holly Bass. “It's accessible to everyone, which is really what hip hop is about. And there's something for everyone—young, old, families, theater audiences, music audiences, dance lovers. Here's a chance for us to celebrate our communities and our stories, but also experience something new—for free!"

The festival was born in the summer of 2000 in New York City. The first festival was the first event of its kind that showcased the stories, people, music, dance, and word of Hip-Hop in one venue. Since then, the festival has grown into one of the most influential outlets showcasing Hip-Hop performing arts in the country and has become an important contributor to the cultural life of New York City and beyond.