When hip-hop choreographer Micaya took stock of the performance options for Bay area hip-hop dancers in the 1990s, she felt far from satisfied—and so she did something about it. Her International San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest, the first festival dedicated specifically to hip hop, had its inaugural year in 1999. “I had seen the artistry,” says Micaya. “What was happening in the hip-hop dance world was incredibly impressive, but I didn’t see it being acknowledged as an art form. Other than battles and competitions, I’d never seen it honored on a stage.”
Now in its 15th year, the festival culls around one hundred submissions each year, from all over the US and as far away as Belgium, South Africa and the Philippines. Over three evenings this November, companies perform, master classes are held and hip-hop students and choreographers alike get the chance to network and share. Local companies that will perform this year include Micaya’s own SoulForce Dance Company, Academy of Villains, Funk Beyond Control, Loose Change, Mind Over Matter and Chapkis Dance Family.
“This festival started just as a springboard for the talent and sophistication I’d seen in hip hop, but it’s now become this world-wide convergence,” says Micaya. “When I get to finally sit down and watch the performances, I feel like I’ve been blessed.” See sfhiphopdancefest.com for tickets, the full list of performance artists, each night’s program and group discounts.
Photo courtesy of Micaya