The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago Presents the B-Series Dance Festival: B-IL

Photo courtesy: JPX Photography/The Dance CenterPhoto courtesy: JPX Photography/The Dance Center

Two-day college-community partnership festival to include interactive hip-hop and street dance competition featuring local and national talent; workshops, panels and film screenings

CHICAGO (Mar. 20, 2017)—The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago will present B-Series: Be-IL, a festival that celebrates the culture, history, and aesthetic of hip-hop and street-dance, including popping, breaking and Chicago footwork. Nearly 300 people are expected to attend the two-day event, which allows attendees to participate in and learn about hip-hop from established practitioners who represent diverse communities in Chicago and across the country. In partnership with GIRL ILLA Tactics, Brave Movement Dance and Columbia’s Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP), the event will be held on April 14 to 15, beginning at 4 p.m., at 1306 S. Michigan Ave., in Chicago and is free (except the workshops).

“The B-Series is dope because of the people in the community who come and speak, teach and exchange with the students,” said Carmarry “Pep-C” Hall, third-year Columbia student majoring in Business and Entrepreneurship, minoring in Dance and national hip-hop finalist. “They give us so much in the space and we are lucky to have the scene brought to us.”

Onye Ozuzu, Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, was initially tasked by the college to expand the scope of and develop a more inclusive dance curriculum at the college, which now includes interdisciplinary art forms such as West-African, hip-hop and related street-dance styles, in addition to modern dance and ballet. Columbia is one of the few colleges in Chicago to offer a complete instructional program leading to a BA or BFA in dance, focusing on skill development, voice, maturity, choreography, teaching and scholarship. Ozuzu worked with the Dance Center to launch the B-Series in 2013.

“Hip-hop thrives at Columbia because of the exceptional practitioners among our faculty, staff and students who effortlessly weave such art forms into our academic consciousness,” said Ozuzu. “Hip-hop is history, culture, satire, humor, socio-political commentary and more, delivered through pulsating rhythms, emphatic movements, searing lyricism and poetry. With the recent changes in our political landscape, the performing arts—hip-hop in particular—will continue to reflect and elevate the conversation in provocative yet collaborative ways, and will further reinforce its value toward creating a more complete academic experience for our students.”

For more than 42 years, the Dance Center has presented regional, national and international contemporary dance, and public programming. It serves as a learning space for Columbia students and hosts the biannual B-Series, including the “B-Real Jam,” where dancers from Chicago and across the US go head-to-head in dance battles, a form of competition specific to hip-hop and street-dance culture. The festival also includes workshops, performances, verbal cyphers (dialogue sessions) and social dancing.

“The B-Series is a community celebration of hip-hop and street-dance traditions,” said Kelsa Robinson, Dance Center lecturer, B-Series co-curator and Venus Fly member. “Like many of my colleagues, my feet are planted in both the academic and hip-hop communities, allowing me to build genuine connections between the academy and the community, and to provide students hands-on learning experiences that explore the dance aesthetic as a lived experience or practice. While many institutions of higher education ask hip-hop to fit into the mold of academic culture, at Columbia we are allowing the institution and students to be transformed by the pedagogies, philosophies and practices of hip-hop culture.”

The B-Series encourages creative work, dialogue and collaboration among hip-hop practitioners, youth, community organizations, and scholars, including DJs and crews like Moz Definite and IllaNoize (CHI ROCK-NATION), DJ Phil (Teklife), Fast$Mike and AMS (NINJACHURCH), Phaze II Crosstown Crew, Goddistas, GIRL ILLA Tactics, and Kuumba Lynx.

“Everybody I knew…who wanted to do the artist path as a career [said] ‘Columbia’s the school you gotta go to,” said Daniel “BRAVEMONK” Haywood, member of the B-Series planning committee and of the Phaze II Crosstown Crew. “The B-Series…always involved people from the community. You have the knowledge piece, the arts, music and movement. You’re seeing the art not in theory but in practice, in lifestyle— it’s happening. If you wanted to show people ‘what is hip-hop really about?’ this is one place you can come [to] and get a piece of that experience, and hopefully walk away…wanting to know more. It’s another space to activate.”

“Practitioners are core to the mission of the B-Series. They create a holistic experience for the younger generation who historically are credited for bringing such art forms to the forefront in the first place,” said Katrina Brook Flores, B-Series associate curator, GIRL ILLA Tactics co-founder, and Goddistas member. “An “each-one-teach-one” philosophy inspires students whose talent then helps define the pedagogy of the college. We also want to make hip-hop tradition bearers proud by the way we bring students, community and practitioners together at Columbia.”

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Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts and business for more than 8,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit www.colum.edu.

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Anjali Julka

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