Full Circle Productions Awarded Grant from the Ford Foundation

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Michelle Tabnick
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Things to do near New York, NY » Art » Performing-Arts

Full Circle Productions announce they have been awarded a grant from the Ford Foundation to support the creation of the United Hip Hop Vanguard, a network of leaders and cultural workers who will host program activities that will support and reverse the past two decades of erasure within the national Breakin (Breakdance) community. The network will assist in the regrowth of culture as it confronts the ongoing platforming of its competitive aspects that have left the historical and cultural qualities remaining invisible and obscured. The Vanguard will re-introduce the social exchange that happens organically at jams and evolve the call-and-response quality of Breakin as an art form. https://www.fullcirclesouljahs.com/.


"This award will help us to bring to life the recommendations brought forth during our year of Vanguard meetings with concerned and passionate local leaders of the Breakin community nationwide," said Full Circle Productions co-founder Rokafella, recently named "one of the most iconic BGirls in Hip Hop history," by Latina Magazine, alongside fellow co-founder and "trailblaz[ing] legend" Kwikstep. 


Full Circle will work with the United Hip Hop Vanguard's national members to foster dancers' independence while intentionally centering Black voices behind the scenes, highlighting Black people and aesthetics in decision-making processes. The Vanguard will serve the national ecosystem of Breakin culture workers, from the East to West Coasts, re-invigorating both DJs and dancers alike through an exchange of testimonials connecting intergenerational practitioners who have made pivotal contributions to the Hip Hop community. These conversations will offer a platform for a mutual exchange of trajectory and ideas, an exploration of the development and sustainability of an artist-led ecosystem, an understanding of the history of artists' local scenes, and offer approaches for navigating commercial platforms while maintaining artistic integrity and protecting mental health. 


This new model of workshop programming will support and invest in local educational and mentorship programming managed and led by local communities. Independent dancers will be able to offer professional development insight so that the younger generation can learn from their experiences and create sustainable careers. These workshops will offer support for every stage of planning, dancing, and archiving to help nurture a successful community of dancers who reach their full potential. 


"This funding from the Ford Foundation will enable Hip Hop Cultural artists such as myself from the birthplace to connect with artists across the country," said Kwikstep, co-founder, Full Circle Productions. "Cultural connections are needed in a time of isolation and uncertainty. These connections will help reinvigorate the collective consciousness and unify artists, helping to inspire their local communities."


To combat Anti-Blackness and systematic racial injustice in the Breakin community, the United Hip Hop Vanguard will hold dance event organizers accountable by re-centering and valuing Black and Brown voices in Breakin contests, competitions, and other similar high-profile events. This continued work together nationally will create needed paradigm shifts that will also impact the global Breakin community. Full Circle will lead this group of US-based artists and leaders from the Breakin community with a detailed manifesto and recommendations that will help hold major corporate sponsors, organizations, promoters and high-profile events accountable by empowering and raising the visibility of Black and Brown contributions, voices and cultural practices in Hip-Hop.


Through the United Hip Hop Vanguard, Full Circle will encourage the elite dancers and promoters to call on corporations and institutions who benefit from BIPOC dancers involved in the national Breakin scene to invest in the career development of dance community members while providing the artists with mental and physical health resources. Full Circle will introduce frequent intergenerational dialogue that are necessary to empower dancers of all ages, and enlighten dance event organizers on how to actively uplift the History and roots of Breakin by making visible the contributions of Black and Brown people. This intergenerational knowledge-sharing about the Afro-diasporic history of Breakin will promote a greater understanding of the factors that led to the emergence of Hip-Hop in the late 70s in NYC. As the community begins to negotiate how it will be presented within the Olympic platform, it is critical to sustain ownership of the cultural aesthetics in the trajectory of this global urban expression. 


The first 2022 meeting of the United Hip Hop Vanguard will be February 25-27 in Cleveland, OH. Upcoming meetings will be in Phoenix, AZ; Miami, FL; Portland, OR; and Los Angeles, CA, with dates and details to follow.


This is Full Circle's second grant from the Ford Foundation. In 2006, they were awarded funding for a national project highlighting the participation and contribution of women in the Breakin world. Under the direction of Rokafella, who identified local BGirls (Female Breakers) in six cities across the country, Full Circle programmed uplifting women-centered dance performances, ranging from theater appearances to dance contests, all followed by discussion. These discussions helped spark dialogue about hidden issues facing women in the local and national Breakin scenes, as well as in other Hip Hop elements. A short film entitled All The Ladies Say, included in the Third World Newsreel catalogue in 2011, captured segments of the six-city tour and continued to impact the community after the travels were over. There has been a growth of women involved in the Breakin scene since that time and presently there is more of a consensus about the need to respect the women in the scene. United Hip Hop Vanguard is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.


About Full Circle Productions

Full Circle Productions, established as a non profit in '96, is embarking on yet another year of cutting-edge Hip-Hop on local and international stages, streets, cyphas, and the industry. The company, also known as Full Circle Souljahs, began as a duo comprised of Kwikstep and Rokafella, who then invited retired Hip-Hop DJ & B boy royalty to relight their fire and reclaim their crowns. Before long, Full Circle found a home base in the Bronx, the birthplace of Hip hop and grew to include Beatboxers, MC's and dancers of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Full Circle also provides an environment for young women to train and perform Breaking repertoire comparable to their male counterparts. Members, who range in age from teens to early fifties, help to create a network of interactive empowerment that benefits both elders and youth. This range creates a multi faceted cycle of learning about Hip-hop history, the industry and life lessons as well as grounding participants in the grassroots origins of the urban culture. Full Circle, the only Classic Hip-hop dance company of its kind in NY, proudly references its roots and style to street performing (aka Hittin) - which is where Kwikstep and Rokafella began their journey. In the span of its existence, Full Circle has gone from hosting international Hip hop companies for cultural exchanges to representing Hip-Hop culture at places once intangible to the street vibe such as The Library of Congress in Washington D.C., where they have the credit of being the first Hip-Hop group to grace the stage. Music videos, tours, commercials and films have featured members and students of Full Circle Prod as a testament to the idea that art can become your career if you are disciplined and ready to take risks. A short documentary "Visiones - Latino Culture in the U.S." aired on PBS highlighting the company's ups and downs, maintaining street credibility and holding on to a cultural background. For more information, visit fullcirclesouljahs.com.



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