The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for me. In early August I broke my leg which for a photographer who primarily works with kids is more than inconvenient. Fortunately, I did not require surgery and healed enough to start working again in time for the busy season. Finally I am catching up and ready to breath into the holidays.
Right before I broke my leg, I attended my son’s capoeira graduation (see previous post) and in addition to the capoeiraistas, a local B Boy crew, Project 401, was invited to perform. As soon as the music was cued, I knew I needed to find a spot and grab my son…this was going to be special…no important.
And it was.
In the months since this event, I have been out to photograph Project 401 and other elements of the Providence Hip Hop scene, because the work that these artists are doing is important and inspiring. It is inspiring to me, but also to my children (especially my boys) who love to dance.
I love this work. I love the energy that is created by this particular group of people which is made up of Emcees, DJ’s, B Boys, B Girls, and graffiti artists…the four elements of Hip Hop coming together. Hip Hop in its incarnation in the early 70’s was not about anger and violence. It was about creating an outlet for the anger and violence. It was a movement about generating peace and respect. It was meant to unify and activate communities. Hip Hop was innovative drawing off some of the traditions of jazz, drumming, dance, poetry, developing something never experienced in the art and political world. It gave a powerful intelligent voice to communities of people that were previously marginalized and exploited by the media as uneducated and violent.
Here in Providence, there is an authentic Hip Hop movement. Project 401 is a part of that movement. This extraordinary crew mentors at risk youth exposing them to the art of BBoying (or Breakin’) and the peaceful intelligent message of Hip Hop. They travel to schools across the state and in New England, hold workshops, participate in community events, cross over and merge with other forms dance. They are always working, rehearsing, educating, and expanding their knowledge and positive presence.
As an artist, I find their passion and energy inspiring. I have learned so much in just a few short months about Hip Hop culture and its importance in our city. As a parent, I deeply appreciate that my boys are able to be mentored by extraordinary dancers who are also extraordinary people. When they tell me they want to be B Boys when they grow up, I couldn’t be happier, because here in the 401, being a B Boy not only means being a dancer, it means being a teacher, being passionate, and living life with integrity and a peaceful heart.