Movement Art Is Uses Street Dance to Promote Social Change

by Bridget Conrad | 1/24/2019 2:09 AM

Photo Credit: Movement Art Is

Traditionally, ballet and contemporary are the most common genres of dance used to tell stories on stage and screen. Every season on shows like So You Think You Can Dance, we see contemporary as the primary genre used to recognize current social issues. But what about street dance? Street dance isn’t just tricks and high-energy music. It involves a true level of creativity and can be used to convey some powerful messages Today, movement artists like Lil Buck and Jon Boogz are actively trying to enhance the artistry of street dance. Through their nonprofit organization Movement Art Is (MAI), these dancers focus on using movement artistry to inspire change in the world, while elevating the artistic, educational, and social impact of dance.

MAI focuses primarily on live performances and films, but also includes exhibitions, education and mentorship, artist workshops, and youth programs. Throughout 2018, MAI went on a tour with its show Love Heals All Wounds, an evening-length work that addresses social issues such as police brutality, mass incarceration, gender equality, and race equality. This show is centered around dance scenes focusing on each issue, set to poetry performed by Robin Sanders. 

Photo Credit: Tim Salaz

As someone acquainting myself on MAI, I first watched Color of Reality, which is MAI’s award-winning, short film directed by Boogz, featuring the art of Alexa Meade and choreography by Lil Buck. This video uses art and dance to form an influential narrative of police brutality shown in the media. “We don’t believe dance is just entertainment. We believe dance is a tool to educate, a tool to empower. Our goal is not just to touch on socially conscious topics but to empower movement artists and dancers to say we’re artists too,” Boogz says. Since Color of Reality went viral in 2016, it’s been viewed online more than 300,000 times. 


In addition to Color of Reality, the duo also collaborated with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) to produce “Am I a Man” which tackles the issue of mass incarceration. They also performed a piece titled “Honor Thy Mother” at a TED conference in Vancouver and a live rendition of Color of Reality at Aspen Ideas Festival in June 2017. In addition, MAI was featured in a VR installation by director Terrence Malick titled “Together” that launched at SxSW and Tribeca Film Festival in 2018. Most recently, the duo choreographed for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and continues to tour their full-length show Love Heals All Wounds

MAI Co-founder Boogz is a movement artist, choreographer, and director who pushes the evolution of dance by sharing his art form with audiences of all backgrounds to inspire and bring awareness to social issues. MAI’s other co-founder, Lil Buck, is a movement artist who began Jookin at age 13. He was named one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch and he gained international notoriety after an impromptu piece featuring himself with Yo-Yo Ma went viral.

MAI is supported by Sozo Impact, an arts initiative dedicated to developing and producing high quality, purpose-driven artistic experiences and content. For more information on MAI, visit http://movementartis.com/ .


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