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BBoy Federation, the Utah hip-hop dance group that energized and mesmerized crowds last weekend at the Utah Arts Festival, is bringing its show to the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center next weekend. "They Reminisce" transfers the conventions of hip-hop from the street to the stage and explores its origins through dance, music and style.
The Fed, so called by fans and insiders, is led by executive director Joshua Perkins, a 35-year-old with enough street cred to have his own alias (Text) and enough aplomb to steer a thriving organization with heart and purpose.
In 2008, Perkins and fellow hip-hop pro James "Pyro" Karren produced several exhibitions for seasoned urban and street dancers called the X-Series. The events received so much interest from younger talent that Perkins decided it was time to provide local youth with an opportunity to develop their hip-hop skills.
"Parents can see through the competitions, workshops, performances and education, that kids learn dedication, teamwork and creativity; it builds self-confidence and ultimately a sense of accomplishment," Perkins said.
On the flip side, he said the kids are drawn to the athleticism and competition. "It's really hard and kids gain ownership of their skills as well as being able to internalize and express respect for others' skills, even when the other team wins."
In late 2015, South Salt Lake awarded The Fed a contract to teach at seven of its after-school sites. As part of the Promise Network, twice a week at each site, The Fed teaches Bboying, DJ'ing, Graff, MC'ing and other hip-hop-related skills. Teri Mumm is a Utah mom of three boys who is also active in the nonprofit world. When her middle son, Elliott, now studying with Ballet West, was interested at age 6 in competing in hip-hop battles, Mumm was so impressed with the challenge he was willing to take on and the leadership Perkins provided that she helped The Fed through the paperwork of becoming a nonprofit and writing grants.
"Nurturing kids' talents is a natural for a nonprofit organization, and Josh has been in this role for 10 years and is a fantastic mentor," Mumm said. "They're so smart about merchandising, classes, performances and creating a path to success."
Hip-hop is one of the most dominant subcultures in the world, and in general its practitioners are as protective of their history whether rap music, graffiti writing or dance as they are generous with their story. The Fed website offers free downloads of mixes for "They Reminisce" and other music.
"Hip-hop culture is everywhere and it's important to know where it came from so it isn't misunderstood or inaccurately franchised," Perkins said. "Our stage production, 'They Reminisce,' is very different from the one-on-one dance battles that are individual expressions of talent and personality. The show is a history lesson of 20 years of the development of what is now a pervasive culture."
The Fed now teaches classes in urban dance at BYU and plan to bring "They Reminisce" to Provo for the first time this year.
20 years of hip-hop
They Reminisce is the story of one crew's journey through 20 years of hip-hop. The Salt City Rockers, a fictionalized crew of homegrown bboys, house dancers and poppers, begin their story in the early 1980s and have become an unstoppable force in the neighborhood. They sense that their big break is right around the corner will they succeed? Experience hip-hop's golden era through the dancing, music, fashion and history that defined each decade.
Where • Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City
When • Friday, July 7: cypher (participatory dance circle), 6 p.m.; doors at 7; Saturday, July 8: cyphers at 3 and 6 p.m.; doors at 4 and 7
Tickets • $17 each performance; bboyfed.com/theyreminisce/