Looking back. There is plenty of dance gracing Hip-Hop Theater Festival stages—breaking, popping, locking, house…plenty of styles within the family of hip-hop dance.

Plenty of heavy hitting performers—Rennie Harris Puremovement, Storm, Rokafella and Kwikstep’s Full Circle Productions, Benji Reid, Frank Ejera, d.Sabela Grimes, Bamuthi, Rubberband Dance, Bill Shannon and now Ken Swift. Plenty more that escape my hand right now…my apologies!

Hip-Hop Theater Festival,dance,hip hop dance,Jamie Merwin

Each of them guided by and motivated to create with the fundamental element of dance. How does this element shape future aesthetics? If you had a kaleidoscope of each of the dancing bodies that awaken Festival audiences it would be the ideal prop to look into the future of hip-hop dance.


Can you imagine spinning all those physical movement dialects, accents, phrases, rhythms, sizes, tempos, souls together side by side, dissolving from one image into the next? The Festival does this like our virtual kaleidoscope. It’s stages give us a vantage point to see all of this physical language, to experience it and to let our bodies absorb what our minds, our spoken languages and our social circumstances, often prevent us from interpreting.

Hip-Hop Theater Festival,dance,hip hop dance,Jamie Merwin

Even when we are multi-lingual in a traditional sense, our right-side brain can struggle to keep up when too many languages enter our ears simultaneously, yet the left side of our brain can seamlessly devour this physical multi-linguistic movement without barrier.  

Moving forward this pinwheel of dance creates unfathomed shapes and continues to multiply. We can use this kaleidoscopic vision, this magic compass, to magnify the scope of potential alive in this so-called “new” genre dubbed ‘hip-hop theater.’

Hip-Hop Theater Festival,dance,hip hop dance,Jamie Merwin


The history of hip-hop is a timeline rich with border-crossings, a proverbial cook-up built on sometimes superficially ‘disparate’ ingredients. We have always defied genre – through music (sampling), through graff (is it ‘art’?), through dance (salsa meet breakin’ – breakin’ – salsa), etc.

Hip-Hop Theater Festival,dance,hip hop dance,Jamie Merwin

As we continue this legacy of genre-bending, this defiance of genre becomes the new genre itself, the new aesthetic, the new future language of movement. This ongoing and never-ending act, this terminally ‘trans’ culture, begs us to defy our limitations as citizens and corporal spirits to create wonder in our minds, change in our perceptions and revolution in our world.  Creatively, we keep on keepin’ on. Moving forward.

-Jamie Merwin for the Hip-Hop Theater Festival – Artistic Director of Olive Dance Theatre

Check Hip-Hop Theater Festival on Twitter: @HHTF

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