Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Urban Artistry Article in the Montgomery County Gazette Dec 09

Check out Urban Artistry in the Montgomery County Gazette Article about one of our after-school programs in Maryland. Instructors Russell Campbell, Giovanni Galleno and Phillip Chang taught students African-American and Latino Cultural Heritage through the art and music of Urban Dance.
The class was focused on bboying/bgirling (Breakdance) but also touched on funkstyles from the West Coast such as Popping and Locking. Please forgive the mis-quote regarding popping and locking being a form of breakdance, this is not what our instructors nor our classes teach the students. We are focused on teaching the unique individual history of all the urban dances and do not teach students that popping and locking are a form of breakdance...
Unfortunatly for our culture, it has been decades already but it seems that the press will never get that one right.
-Emily Wessel, Director of Operations at Urban Artistry
For more information on how to bring Urban Artistry to your school contact:
Photo from Principal Khadija Barkley

Urban Artistry instructor Phillip Chang (right)
teaches students at Roberto Clemente Middle School how to break dance
during one of the Wednesday after school workshops.
The workshops conclude today at the school.
Dance workshop at middle school ends today
Recreation department looking for grant to prolong program
December 16, 2009
by Andre L. Taylor Staff Writer

Students at Roberto Clemente Middle School have been learning how to break dance and do the salsa for the last seven weeks in an after-school program. Today the 22 students will attend their last session and county recreation department Director Gabriel Albornoz is trying to find a way to keep the program at the school.

"We're going to re-evaluate the situation to see how we can bring the program back to Clemente," Albornoz said. "The Upcounty doesn't have many programs like this and we want to keep it here."
Albornoz said Silver Spring-based Class Acts Arts Inc. reached out to the recreation department to place Urban Artistry, a Bethesda dance troupe, into a Montgomery County Public Schools middle school. The recreation department, Albornoz said, oversees after-school programs in 25 of the county's middle schools.

Susan Fox — outreach coordinator for Class Acts Arts, a Silver Spring-based non-profit organization that finds art programs to schools and community centers — said they were able to pay for two dancers from Urban Artistry with a $5,000 grant they received from Donors InVesting in Arts.
DIVAs co-founder, Mita Schaffer, said the group will meet again in February and will evaluate a progress report from the school's program. Albornoz said the recreation department would look into other grants that could keep the once a week dance program at Clemente, and possibly, in the other middle schools in need of after-school programming.

After-school programs of all kinds, especially those that culturally enrich the students, are needed throughout the county, Clemente Principal Khadija Barkley said. Programs that are of interest to the students keep them occupied and off the streets, Barkley said.

The after-school program was opened to all students at Clemente, but a 25-student cap was placed on how many could attend the eight-week program, she said. The school offers many programs, Barkley said, "but we don't have a regular dance class."

"I'm glad that we have this program at the school," she said. "Not only do the kids get a chance to learn about the origin of their favorite dance moves, but they are also building character and keeping shape."

A lot of Clemente's students go home and are there alone at the end of the day, Fox said. Class Acts Arts, she said, "was glad we were able to get the grant to have this program at Clemente."
Fox said there is a great need to keep middle schoolers busy from the time they get out of school until their parents get home.

"For these kids, it's like taking an eight-week dance class for free," Fox said. "I'm sure the children will remember this for a long time."

Aaron Beidleman, a seventh-grader at Clemente, said the program gave him a chance to have fun and to "do my thing."

"It's a great way to let off steam and it's a great workout," said Beidleman, 12, of Germantown. "This program has been a great influence on me. I have learned a lot about break dancing, both the history and how to do it."

The two dancers taught the students to do the salsa and break dance during the eight-week program that concludes today, said Russell Campbell, a dancer with Urban Artistry.

From 3 p.m. through 4:15 p.m., the 22 students meet with Campbell and fellow Urban Artistry dancer, Giovanni Galleno in the school's cafeteria. Urban Artistry was started in 2006 by Junious Brickhouse. Campbell and Galleno lead the group of students in stretches before they begin classes and then go into teaching urban dances that pre-date the births of all of their students.

"Breaking started with blacks and Latinos in the Bronx in the 1970s," Campbell said. "A lot of the students at Clemente are black and Hispanic, so it's easy to teach them how to pop and lock [a kind of breakdancing] because it's already in their blood."

It's fun teaching those who haven't had an introduction to the rhythmic moves involved in popping and locking, Campbell said. The 26-year-old Silver Spring native said teaching those who don't know about urban dancing "is pretty fun."

"We teach all of the students about the history of all the dances we teach them," Campbell said.

"They not only get to enjoy the dances, but they get to know the roots of the dances they are doing."
Catherine Leggett, wife of County Executive Isiah Leggett and a member of the DIVAs collecting circle, will be in attendance for the last workshop today, Schaffer said.

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