The annual Sol Power hip-hop festival at Arizona State University will feature three jam-packed days of events — including guest artists, workshops and competitions — to celebrate the culture and creative intelligence of dance communities.
The free festival, open to the public, kicks off Friday morning with guest speaker Jerry “Flo Master” Randolph. A dance and fitness instructor for more than 18 years, Randolph has worked with some of the world’s biggest celebrities, such as Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Usher. He says his classes focus on helping students gain a greater connection to their physicality.
Friday night features more free fun for ASU students and the local hip-hop community. Randolph will join Daniel Tran and other guest artists to teach dance workshops in a collaboration with ASU student organization AZNA Dance, an Asian-American hip-hop and R&B dance team.
The main Sol Power event is Saturday, co-hosted by Jorge “Bboy House” Magana, ASU clinical assistant professor, and ASU alumna Melissa Britt, who cofounded Sol Power (then called Urban Sol) to help create a home for hip-hop culture while a professor of clinical dance at ASU.
On Sunday, the final day of the festival, dancers of all styles are encouraged to attend ExperiMeant It! — a reimagining of dance battles designed to bring together different communities of dancers for an intentional gathering of creativity. It is the brainchild of MFA dance student Angelo Sapienza, known in the artistic community as Vo Vera.
Here he shared more about the dance-battle event and the design behind it.
Editor's note: The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Question: What is “ExperiMeant It!”?
Answer: In short, this event is an experimental approach towards bringing different communities and knowledge together to an event that meets wider audiences than such an event might normally.
Usually events like this bring together most of the hip-hop and street dance community with the battles being free and public. Being on the ASU campus, we expect to bring out a lot of the ASU community. I’m also trying to get other communities to come out. For example, the keynote speaker is an Indigenous man and drummer with some incredible knowledge to share. He's going to speak for a few minutes and also participate as one of the music makers for the final battle of the event along with the DJ.
I'm hoping to bring out more people from that community, and also dancers and artists from the greater Phoenix classical and contemporary community.
Q: Where did you get the idea for the name?
A: Someone from my street arts collective, The Sacred Gs, came up with it. Intention is a big driving factor in what we do. We are not called The Sleazy Gs; it's meant to be very intentional because the words that we use have power. We have been doing work since 2014, bringing aspects of the hip-hop street dance community to other communities — like performing at a yoga festival or music festival. I guess you could call them more intentional communities. Instead of people going to a bar, listening to music and enjoying the experience, this is something a lot more sober. There’s no alcohol, and it’s an all-ages event.
Q: How did grants make this event possible?
A: The grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts really set the groundwork for this event. I received another one, the Herberger Institute Creative Constellation grant. Grants literally made this entire thing possible. My eyes are bigger than my budget, and I am able to fly out three different artists from different parts of the country. I’m able to pay the artists, from DJs to judges to the hosts and speaker to the people documenting the experience. Everybody's getting paid, and that's really important for me, too. The grants definitely made all of this possible.
Q: What should people know before they come?
A: It is a free, public, all-ages community event. They can bring themselves, their friends and family. If they're dancers or interested in dancing, they can bring their inner dancer and get down. It's going to be a little wild and experimental. It's not necessarily going to be traditional street dance battle music. In fact, I'm still in dialogue with the DJs about what that's going to look like.
Another way that it will be experimental is during some rounds we're going to be providing prompts, and then the dancers will use that prompt to guide their movement. The judges will be using that prompt to guide the way that they judge that round.
It's going to be a very unique platform for all attendees. It's definitely taking people out of their comfort zone and into the spheres of unknown.
Q: What are you most excited about for this event?
A: I'm going to offer an opening incantation, and I'm going to speak a little bit at the beginning of the event about some of my research into Indigenous older communities throughout the world, and how they've used dance for spiritual purposes, and the significance of the circle in their dance and in their lives. I'm very interested in the spirit having the human experience, or even just the human having the spiritual experience, in that dance-laden circular community setting. That gets my heart pumping to speak about that in public.
Sol Power Hip Hop Festival
All events are free and open to the public. Visit www.solpoweraz.com for more information.
Friday, Oct. 28
Guest speaker: Flo Master
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre
611 E. Orange St., Tempe
Dance workshops with guest artists
ASU Performing and Media Arts
970 E. University Drive, Tempe
Saturday, Oct. 29
3v3 freestyle battle, choreography competition, live art and music
Nelson Fine Arts Center Plaza
51 E. 10th St., Tempe
Sunday, Oct. 30
Nelson Fine Arts Center Plaza
51 E. 10th St., Tempe
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