Wild style: Sol Power festival to mix art forms, celebrate hip-hop culture

Weeklong festival to feature ASU Symphony show performed with graffiti art created in real time

November 12, 2021

In an unlikely union, this year’s Sol Power hip-hop festival at Arizona State University will join forces with the ASU Symphony Orchestra for one of its featured events.

The free, five-day community event features DJs, emcees, live music, graffiti artists and dancers, and it culminates Saturday, Nov. 20, with the main event — a daylong celebration of the Phoenix area's hip-hop community with a focus on 3-on-3 battles and a choreography battle. This year, the main event also includes a collaboration with the ASU Symphony Orchestra. Sol Power Free Hip Hop Community Event at ASU Tempe The Sol Power hip-hop festival at ASU's Tempe campus. Download Full Image

During performances on the evening of Nov. 20, internationally renowned graffiti artists Lalo Cota and Thomas “Breeze” Marcus will create art in real time outside on the Nelson Fine Arts Plaza while the ASU Symphony Orchestra premieres Carlos Simon’s “Graffiti” for a live audience in ASU Gammage. Simon is currently composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center and the 2021 winner of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. The performances will be livestreamed to each location, so the ASU Symphony audience will be viewing the graffiti artists working in real time while those gathered at Galvin Plaza will be able to hear and see the symphony performance.

“What is powerful is that we are sharing the stage and finding common ground in our different disciplines, cultures and art forms,” said Jeffery Meyer, director of orchestras for the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “I hope both experiences will be enriched through the collaboration.”

The popular hip-hop festival offers free performances, exhibitions and competitions. According to the Sol Power AZ website, “Sol Power is an empowering opportunity to celebrate the culture and creative intelligence within communities of color.” 

Originally founded by Richard Mook and Melissa Britt with the name Urban Sol, the event was held outdoors in Phoenix. Bringing it to ASU created more student and faculty involvement. This year the festival is directed by ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre assistant professors Jorge “House” Magana and LaTasha Barnes, who both teach ASU’s trailblazing hip-hop dance curriculum.

“We have a two-fold mission,” Magana said. “We want to expose our students to this culture and connect them to the things they’re learning in their classroom, and we want to introduce the outside community to ASU’s campus.”

The community can participate in activities all week, leading up to the main event. On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Samuel Peña, community engagement coordinator for the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, hosts “Tunes at Noon” on the Nelson Fine Arts Plaza. On Wednesday afternoon, there will be a collaboration with the Labriola Center at Hayden Library featuring Indigenous DJs and dancers, including artists Tomahawk Bang (Onk Akimel O’odham), Randy B. (Diné) and DJ Reflekshin (Diné). 

Friday evening will be the dedication of Nelson Fine Arts Center Room 28 as the Marcus White Dance Studio, in honor of the important role White played at ASU as a faculty member in the dance program who dedicated his career to working in the legacy of the Black Radical Tradition. White died unexpectedly in May 2020. The evening will also honor dance student and friend Armani Moten, who passed away in December 2019.


Tuesday, Nov. 16

Tunes at Noon
Noon–1 p.m.
Nelson Fine Arts Plaza

Bring your lunch, bring your friends and join us in the plaza outside the Nelson Fine Arts Center for an afternoon of music and dancing.

Wednesday, Nov. 17

Native American Heritage Month Labriola Pre-Jam
11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Hayden Library West Patio

In partnership with ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Phoenix hip-hop community, the Sol Power project and Labriola Center will be hosting a dance cypherA cypher is when dancers form a circle and take turns dancing in the center. at the Hayden Library featuring Indigenous DJs, dancers and artists Tomahawk Bang (Onk Akimel O’odham), Randy B. (Diné) and DJ Reflekshin (Diné). This intersectional event seeks to creatively engage the ASU community on the transformative power of hip-hop culture and uplift modern Indigenous forms of expression. 

Friday, Nov. 19

Hip-Hop Matters
10:30 a.m.
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre, Bulldog Hall

Join us for a casual morning meet-and-greet where you can get to know Sol Power guest artist "Ivan the Urban Action Figure" through discussion and community interaction.

Marcus White Dance Studio Dedication
6 p.m.
Nelson Fine Arts Center, Room 28

The School of Music, Dance and Theatre is rededicating Nelson Fine Arts Center Room 28 as the Marcus White Dance Studio. The dedication will provide an opportunity to reflect on White's role at ASU as a faculty member in the dance program who dedicated his career to working in the legacy of the Black Radical Tradition and speaking truth to power. Please join us as we reflect on his role as movement maker, mentor, activist, artist and scholar as well as honor friend and student Armani Moten, who died in 2019. We are grateful for the generous donations that helped make this possible. For information on contributing to the Marcus White Dance Studio fund, visit musicdancetheatre.asu.edu/giving/marcus-white.

Saturday, Nov. 20

Sol Power main event
2–10 p.m.
Nelson Fine Arts Plaza

Hosted by ASU’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre, this free community event features DJs, emcees, graffiti artists, dancers and musicians. The day includes 3-on-3 dance battles that are open to both students and the community, as well as a choreography battle where everyone gets a chance to share and show off their skills.

“Graffiti” with ASU Symphony Orchestra
7:30 p.m.
ASU Gammage

As part of this year’s celebration, the ASU Symphony will premiere Carlos Simon’s “Graffiti,” performed with art created in real time by internationally renowned graffiti artists. The ASU Symphony performance will take place at ASU Gammage while graffiti artists create in Nelson Fine Arts Plaza. Each event will be livestreamed at the other location. The ASU Symphony performance is one part of a concert at Gammage that begins with the premiere of “FraKture,” a new work by ASU composer and Professor Garth Paine, which includes sounds amplified by the audience’s own cellphones as part of the orchestral landscape. The concert will also feature pianist John Solar, winner of the 2020 ASU Concerto Competition, performing Ravel’s American jazz club-inspired “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” and will conclude with Arturo Marquez’s exuberant “Danzon No. 2.” Tickets for this event must be purchased in advance through the ASU Gammage box office.

Please note: All events are open to the public. Attendees are required to agree to adhere to ASU policies. At this time, consistent with CDC guidelines for colleges and universities, face coverings are required in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre indoor performance spaces and strongly encouraged in our outdoor spaces when physical distancing is not possible. We ask that you monitor for cold/flu/COVID-19-like symptoms and stay home if you are unwell. Our safety policy permits performers to remove face coverings for performance as they are frequently testing and monitoring their health.

Lacy Chaffee

Media and communications coordinator, School of Music, Dance and Theatre


Students learn campaigning tips from political pros

Veteran vote-getters offer advice on how to work on and win campaigns

November 12, 2021

They may not be listening to the strains of “Hail to the Chief” just yet, but several Arizona State University School of Public Affairs students recently heard expert vote-getters describe what it takes to work on and win a political race.

Successful campaigners gave elections advice to the nine students, who are interested in political careers, and others at the Community Candidate Orientation and Development Forum. I Voted stickers Photo by Element5/Unsplash Download Full Image

The forum is “a learning opportunity not only for those who want to run for public office but for others who desire to get into campaign management, budgeting, fundraising, communications and get-out-the-vote activities,” said Geoffrey Gonsher, a School of Public Affairs professor of practice who arranged for the students to attend.

Gonsher said the opportunity was invaluable for students to also learn how community and business people prepare for, contribute to and participate in the electoral process.

“The information may energize students to run for elected office, decide to work for an elected official or take on responsible management positions within public agencies at all levels of government,” he said.

The Oct. 20 event was sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and several Arizona Realtors’ organizations, and it was held at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.

Participants heard from John Winston, National Association of Realtors campaign services manager who is a veteran of several national and local campaigns, and Justin Allen, a political strategist and former Colorado legislator.

A panel titled “I’ve Been Elected, What’s Next?” featured former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, former Mesa City Manager Mike Hutchinson, former Arizona state Rep. Steve Huffman of Marana, and Kevin Kirchmeier, who managed Kate Gallego’s successful campaign for Phoenix mayor.

Here, three of the students discuss what they learned from the forum and its effects on what their futures in politics and public policy might be like.

Halle Aquino is a senior who will earn two bachelor’s degrees: one in political science from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and one in public service and public policy from the School of Public Affairs, both in May 2022, as well as an accelerated Master of Public Administration degree in May 2023.

Justin Kent will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in public service and public policy from the School of Public Affairs with a focus on emergency management and homeland security in May 2022.

Zak Gutzwiler is pursuing concurrent Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater (design and production) from the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and in film and media production from the Sidney Poitier New American Film School. Both are in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. His minor is in public service and public policy in School of Public Affairs. He will receive his degrees in May 2023.

Question: This forum was probably unlike your typical political science or public affairs class. How did it differ?

, student, School of Public Affairs, ASU

Halle Aquino

Aquino: The speakers were teaching us based on their real political campaign experiences, not theoretical or conceptually based information. They presented to us confidently, knowing they have worked through all the highs and lows of running political campaigns. I was able to apply myself to all of the knowledge they presented to us, which allowed me to ponder the endless possibilities that come with pursuing a political career.

Kent: It was very different. This was a step in a new direction for the most part. This workshop provided a different type of opportunity for people with interests in politics. The speakers brought in their own experiences from both the federal and state level.

Gutzwiler: Attendees were able to interact with community members and policy makers alike to implement proven ground-level concepts. In the classroom we all too often focus on high-level topics and forget how to work on matters that directly affect members of the community.

Q: Name the most important thing you learned from the forum. Then share what you think you’ll do with that knowledge.

Aquino: Truthfully, the most important thing that I learned was the importance of giving people hope. Serving in public office is based on the desire to do good for the constituents and the communities that you represent in office. The seminar speakers emphasized that we need more public servants willing to become the defining leaders who provide optimism to people for the future. Making it a priority for me to find ways to instill and encourage hope into others’ lives will most definitely contribute to a better world today.

, student, School of Public Affairs, ASU

Justin Kent

Kent: The panel was the best part of this seminar. Having both former Mayor Paul Johnson and former legislator Steve Huffman sit down and talk about their individual experiences with politics was eye-opening. Being in different political groups had no (bearing) on the information they presented us. They stressed the importance of working together and doing what was best for the community. I plan on taking the advice they had given us and bringing it forward with me into my career.

Gutzwiler: How to manage your campaign finances became one of the most useful discussions of the seminar – it is a topic often forgotten and becomes an issue as campaigns become more and more expensive. The tools given allow candidates and policymakers to understand the drawn-out process of fundraising and spending while keeping strict and fair election policies for all candidates.

Q: In this age of polarized political positions, is it possible to serve one’s entire constituency adequately? That is, no matter what a well-intentioned officeholder does, are they going to disappoint or even anger a pretty large segment of the electorate?

Aquino: Yes, there is a way you can serve an entire constituency adequately, even in today’s age of polarized political positions. There will always be at least one person who disagrees with something, which makes it critical for an officeholder to choose their battles wisely. An officeholder who does their job adequately knows how to maturely empathize with people who have differing beliefs and perspectives. Being someone who is willing to converse with all populations of people gracefully is the key to successfully serve a constituency, as well as promote civil discourse.

Kent: They wanted us to understand that you may or may not be able to uphold every promise you make while running for office. Things happen and you can only promise your best. Mr. Johnson stated that after the election you should really focus on the job and not so much the next election. If your focus is only winning, then you will end up missing the best parts about being an elected official.

, student, School of Public Affairs, ASU

Zak Gutzwiler

Gutzwiler: I believe one is able to serve the entire constituency adequately, but that does not ignore the fact that eventually someone will be disappointed or angry. Proper decision making comes with years of policy planning and many people working together – this has been many times ignored by the constituency when the outcome may seem unfavorable. A part of leading the community is being able to see and manage the big picture and mitigate the risks that appear when decisions are made.

Q: When talking about a political career with friends or family, someone might encounter some questions or even criticism. What do you tell people you know about why you think it could be the path for you?

Aquino: Certainly, the possibility of pursuing a political career is met with tension and unease as this career path would be difficult. Despite this, a political career could be the path for me because I have seen how tragedy and suffering have highlighted the vulnerabilities of government and society. I believe the restoration of connection and empathy into society will come with building innovative solutions together. It is more important for me now than ever to consider how I will do my part at this critical point in time. I welcome the opportunity to do it on a larger scale.

Kent: I like to think of myself as a problem solver. I really enjoy getting to know and help others when they need it. I believe a political career is the right choice for me. I am someone who generally gets along with everyone. I understand that there will always be disagreements, and I feel like that is part of the challenge. When you are running for office, there are things you need to remember. One big concern is family. It is not just you running to be an elected official. Your family members may encounter some criticism. The best thing you can do is take it with a grain of salt. Everyone has a voice, and I believe every concern should be taken into consideration.

Gutzwiler: I believe a career in politics or policy is the opportunity for you to serve your community and adjacent communities. I wish to advance policy and funding for the arts within the cultural and academic spaces. We often ignore the arts or believe it is a waste of time and money. But in reality, it drives our everyday world just like science and innovation, and we must serve and advance it just like we would any other sector we find to be of importance. Taking care of the arts and creating policy that benefits the arts allows us to advance the cultural understandings of our community.

The School of Public Affairs is part of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions