Photo Credit: Embodiment Project on Facebook
Concert and street are two of the most popular categories of dance, and even though one can influence the other, often times people separate these groups of dance in their minds. In light of this typecast, one well-known dance theater company in San Francisco, Embodiment Project (EP), has made it its mission to bridge the gap between concert and street dance. This company brings street dance to the theater to inspire conversation and healing on serious topics that tend to be silenced. During EP's upcoming event, 'Paradox of Harm and Healing,' on 12/7 at the Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, CA, the company will debut its most recent stage piece entitled, 'X RATED PLANET,' which is a performance piece that’s rooted in the fight to end sexual violence.
Founded by Nicole Klaymoon in 2008, EP is a hip-hop dance theater organization that offers dynamic programming in three key ways: performance for the concert stage in public spaces and dance film; education; and community. EP’s concerts bring together street dance, live music, interactive video art, documentary theater, and choreo-poetry to explore complex issues including racism, histories of trauma, and state violence.
Klaymoon continues to follow in the footsteps of her longtime mentor, Rennie Harris, who blazed the trail in the U.S. concert dance world by taking street dance out of its traditional performance context and reinterpreting it as concert dance. EP is comprised of a diverse group of street dancers who specialize in various styles including bboying/bgirling, waacking, house vogueing, hip hop, and popping. These dancers originally found their way to concert dance through battling and club dancing, and now they all contribute their own unique skills to help EP put on some spellbinding performances.
In addition to concert dance performances, EP holds weekly community dance classes at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco including its signature ‘House Method’ class which is taught by Klaymoon and EP company members, and guest classes with house dance historians. In 2014, EP also partnered with ODC Dance School to start the youth hip-hop dance company called SEEDS. Outside the San Francisco area, EP offers lecture demonstrations, panels, and workshops.
As a tight-knit community, EP's values really drive the narrative of its performances. Some of EP’s strong-rooted values include:
• Dance can speak and language can move.
• Celebrate Black liberation and all the ways it has spurred the proliferation of hip-hop as a social movement.
• Everybody has their own unique story to tell and building community involves validating the unique contributions of each individual.
• Illuminate the stories, perspectives, and histories of under-represented communities, and believe that everybody deserves access to concert dance.
• Celebrate concert dance as another platform for the voices and perspectives of formidable leaders of social movements.
For over a decade, EP has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between concert dance and street dance. This company provides both free and low ticketed programming in community fine arts spaces year-round in the San Francisco and the East Bay areas. For more info on 'Paradox of Harm and Healing,' EP’s free event on 12/7, visit embodimentproject.org. In addition to its debut on 12/7, EP's newest stage show 'X RATED PLANET,' will also showcase in Oakland and San Francisco from winter 2019 through spring 2020.