Leah Nelson leading a hip-hop dance workshop at Free First Saturday.
One of the highlights of my job coordinating family programs is working with local artists to develop creative and engaging learning opportunities for youth. Leah Nelson, a Minneapolis-based dancer, choreographer, producer, and teaching-artist, has been an amazing educational resource not only to the Walker, but the local art community. I asked her to talk about her role as a teaching-artist:
My relationship with hip-hop education and the Walker was reinforced after the Hip-Hop Moves Festival in 2003 and has continued over the past three summers when I’ve taught the Hip-Hop Moves dance class to youth.
With the youth classes it’s been great to see the progress young movers have made after returning each summer for an intensive week of hip-hop and funk dance and culture. The encounters between the students and teaching-artist team I work with in my company Nubia, (a performing arts collective), have created exciting environments encouraging strength, stamina and creativity as well as some excellent dance moves.
My interest has always been to encourage learners of all ages to find access to the depth of culture that hip-hop has to offer. Unfortunately the current media-driven images and highly charged environments portrayed today do not give due props to the richness and community-oriented beginnings hip-hop has to offer.
I love any opportunity I have to bring this understanding and increase my own knowledge – to participate with potential b-girls and b-boys, grafitti artists, DJs and MCs. As often as I can I organize and mostly collaborate to reap the socially jubilant rewards of programs like B-girl Be : A Celebration of Women in Hip-hop at Intermedia Arts and workshops like Hip Hop 101 happening at the Walker in April. Hip-Hop 101 is for young ones who don’t often have access can try out their skillz at the turntables, on the mic and on the dance floor … they can even get some writing technique … the idea is that these morning sessions are infused with all the tools representing the elements – and understand that its more than a “bling” thing.