A Festival Celebrating Dance in Hip Hop
September–October 2023


August 1973 is acknowledged as the critical moment of the emergence of Hip Hop, as innovated by Black and Brown youth in New York City. To celebrate Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary and dance in Hip Hop as a global phenomenon, the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, home to one of the nation’s largest contingents of faculty in higher education with Hip Hop dance expertise, will host a dynamic three-part festival of panels, workshops, and dancing organized by artistic lead and curator d. Sabela grimes.


Wednesday, September 20, 5–10 p.m.
Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center

5–6 p.m.:
 A musical essay by DJ Lynnée Denise, 2022 Sterling Brown Visiting Professor at Williams College and founder of “DJ Scholarship,” who has re-positioned the role of the DJ from party purveyor to archivist, cultural custodian, and information specialist.
6–7 p.m.: Reception with food and drink.
7–8:30 p.m.: Hip Hop scholarship panel celebrating the publication of the Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Dance Studies with editors Dr. Imani Kai Johnson and Dr. Mary Fogarty in conversation with Dancing Funk & Disco Kinships: Kinethic California author Dr. Naomi Bragin and USC Kaufman professors E. Moncell Durden and d. Sabela grimes.
8:30–10 p.m.: Hip Hop dance workshops open to all (registration and liability waiver required) will be taught by choreographer/teacher/dancer Monica Polk and USC Kaufman artist in residence Toyin Sogunro.


Saturday, September 30, 7–10 p.m.
McCarthy Quad

This community-focused block party will weave a vibrant tapestry of Hip Hop culture, with L.A.–based dance artists K’niin, Asia One (No Easy Props), Versa-Style Legacy, and UniverSOUL Hip Hop along with DJ Adé bringing the streets to life with improvisational or spontaneous pop-up performances. Attendees are invited to not just witness but actively engage, collaborate, and co-create with our special guests and USC Kaufman students in a living celebration of kinetic innovation and a heartfelt homage to Hip Hop. It ain’t nothin’ but a party y’all!


Wednesday, October 4, 5–10 p.m.
Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center

5–6 p.m.:
A conversation with Dr. Shamell Bell about the 28-Day Global Dance Meditation for Black Liberation and the community-led improvisational methods of “co-choreographic praxis.” Street dance activism community organizers, guides, and artists will participate.
6–7 p.m.: Reception with food and drink.
7–10 p.m.: Ahmad DuBose-Dawson and Yoda Jones will lead Everything Raw, a freestyle platform inspiring improvisation and collaboration and showcasing the boundless potential cultivated when individuals and communities come together to share and harness raw energy. USC students from Thornton and beyond are invited to sit in with the live band, USC students from Roski and beyond are invited into the flow of live painting and art making, and space will be provided for all to linger and build break-out cyphers.


Shamell Bell is a homeschooling mother, community organizer, critical-engaged-pedagogist-educator, dancer/choreographer, and documentary filmmaker. An original member of the #blacklivesmatter movement, she is also a full-time lecturer of somatic practices and global performance at Harvard University and instigator of street dance activism and global dance meditation for Black Liberation.

Naomi Bragin uses dance, writing, and performance as creative resources for healing, artistic collaboration, and reenacting histories. Teaching dance, performance, and cultural theory, and co-directing the arts research group Critical Acts: Socially Engaged Performance at the University of Washington, her first book, Dancing Funk & Disco Kinships: Kinethic California, received the 2023 National Endowment for the Humanities Open Book Award.

DJ Adé is a dance music connoisseur dedicated to exploring contemporary and classic sounds that make people dance, including Motown and Philly soul, Afro- Cuban and disco, new wave, punk, and classic hard rock. He is the co-founder/producer/DJ of Utopia, a social event that has quickly grown into one of the most distinct and sought-after affairs to attend in Los Angeles, and a producer/DJ of The Nonsemble, a collective group of music enthusiasts that has produced jazz events throughout Los Angeles.

DJ Lynnée Denise is an Amsterdam-based writer, interdisciplinary artist, and global practitioner of sound, language, and Black Atlantic thought whose work has been featured in cultural and academic institutions worldwide. She was the 2022 Sterling Brown Distinguished Visiting Professor at Williams College and has been the recipient of numerous global residencies and lecturer positions, including at Stanford University, UCLA, and Spelman College.

Ahmad DuBose-Dawson is a professional percussionist, producer, and recording artist whose music style is a kaleidoscopic expression of Traditional African, Afro Cuban, World Music, Hip Hop, and Jazz. DuBose-Dawson is the leader of Everything Raw, an emerging free style platform for L.A.’s dance and live music community with emphasis on the relationship of live dance and live music creation, improvisation, and the infinite possibilities of what can be achieved when raw energy is exchanged.

E. Moncell Durden is a dance educator, choreographer, ethnographer, embodied historian, and author. As an associate professor of practice at the USC Kaufman School of Dance, he specializes in pedagogical practices that prove cultural and historical context in what he calls the “morphology of Afro-kinetic memory.” A highly sought-after instructor, Durden teaches practical and theoretical classes and is an expert in locking, house, Hip Hop, authentic jazz, and party dances from 1900 to the present.

Mary Fogarty is associate professor of dance at York University, Toronto. A long-time member of the KeepRockinYou arts collective that organizes the Toronto B-Girl Movement, Mary has performed in Canada, the U.S., Germany, Scotland, England, and Portugal. Mary has published two collections of research on dance: The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Dance Studies (co-edited with Imani Kai Johnson) and Movies, Moves, and Music: The Sonic World of Dance Films. Mary has also been a visiting scholar at the Hip Hop Education Center, founded by Martha Diaz at NYU.

d. Sabela grimes, a 2014 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow, is a choreographer, writer, composer, and associate professor of practice at USC Kaufman, whose interdisciplinary performance work and pedagogical approach reveal a vested interest in the physical and meta-physical efficacies of Afro-Diasporic cultural practices. Considered one of the most imaginative and innovative artists in his field, grimes created and continues to cultivate a movement system called Funkamentals that focuses on the methodical dance training and community-building elements evident in Black vernacular and Street dance forms.

Imani Kai Johnson is an interdisciplinary scholar specializing in the African diaspora, Hip Hop, and power. She is currently an associate professor of critical dance studies in the Department of Black Study at UC Riverside, and author of Dark Matter in Breaking Cyphers: The Life of Africanist Aesthetics in Global Hip Hop. Johnson also co-edited Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Dance Studies, and is founder and artistic director of the “Show & Prove” Hip Hop Studies Conference Series.

Born in New Orleans and raised in Southern California, Yoda Jones was surrounded by musicians, singers, and artists of all styles and cultures from a young age. Since beginning with classical Indian dance at the age of 6, she has learned house, locking, waacking, popping, Hip Hop, vogue, Chicago footworking, and anything funky, free, and grounded in soul, and studies and dances with pioneers, teachers, and dancers worldwide.

K’niin is a freestyle/street dance artist, choreographer, and teacher with a concentration in urban improvisational  movement and techniques. Specializing in movement innovation and total body integration methodologies, he travels extensively to urban arts communities, both to compete and teach his techniques, and collaborates with various companies, including Embodiment Project, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, and the Groovaloos, to bring powerful, performative, creative, and thought-provoking street dance to the dance theatre world.

Monica Polk began her dance journey in Washington, DC, in 2005 with the youth dance company, Future Shock DC. During that time she trained in several street styles including Popping, house, locking, krump, and Beat ya feet. At 15 she began teaching and choreographing for the local studios and companies, then starting her own company shortly after. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2019 , she has taught at studios including Debbie Reynolds, Movement Lifestyle, Eighty Eight, Millennium, and Fuzion Force LA, and danced for artists such as Lizzo, Janelle Monáe, DaBaby, and Ozuna. She loves to share her passion for dance, and hopes to continue to create a positive learning environment for dancers of all ages.

Toyin Sogunro is a professional dancer, educator, and artist in residence at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. As artistic director of the Urban Artistry dance company and a performer, winner, and judge at some of the top dance competitions in the world, most, if not all, of her work revolves around preserving the authenticity of Black culture through street and club dance. A cultural ambassador, Sogunro travels to different urban arts communities around the globe to broaden her perspective and understanding in all sorts of dance forms and share her own talents and teachings.

UniverSOUL Hip Hop consists of an elite group of highly qualified, socially engaged, and skilled dance educators who are passionate about being lifelong learners to both the art of teaching and the art of Hip Hop. Founded by USC Kaufman lecturer Tiffany “Jimini” Bong, the group specializes in blending the creativity of Hip Hop with the rigor of standards-based pedagogy to provide innovative, interdisciplinary dance programs to over 50 schools a year.

Versa-Style Legacy is the official junior company of Versa-Style, and is a professional Hip Hop and street dance ensemble. Based in the belief that the arts are essential for the development of academic proficiency, creativity, leadership abilities and meaningful community connections that create and sustain essential pathways to healthy, stable and productive futures, VS Legacy performs weekly educational school shows for Los Angeles youth to inspire self-efficacy in its students and provide a new perspective on the impact the arts can have in their communities.

Nancy “Asia One” Yu is one of the best-known and most-respected b-girls in the world, the founder and CEO of the annual B-Boy Summit event, a member of Fame City Graffiti Crew, president of the Mighty Zulu Kweenz Crew, and founder of No Easy Props, a non-profit with the mission to preserve Hip Hop culture and provide education and entertainment to communities of all ages throughout the world. She appears extensively in commercials, television shows, and films.

Presented by USC Visions and Voices. Organized by artistic lead and curator d. Sabela grimes and the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Co-sponsored by the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs and La CASA.

Artwork: Dark Matter in Breaking Cyphers book cover

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