Share this article

​Generally regarded as a brash street upstart, hip-hop is getting some respectability in Mixing It Up, which aims to reposition the art form.
HIP-HOP is going places: the urban music and dance genre is leaving the street to thread the boards in a new theatre project called Mixing It Up.

Dancers will battle it out for honoursHip-hop dancers will battle it out for honoursMixing It Up has been adapted from the United Kingdom, where hip-hop has successfully been integrated into local theatre. Its goal in Joburg is to develop and reposition South African hip-hop by empowering local artists to perform on stage.

A dance show coming out of the initiative, presented by the British Council of South Africa, will be staged at the University of Johannesburg Arts Theatre on 7 and 8 March at 8pm. The council saw the potential of the local hip-hop scene, and came up with an idea to reposition the genre, which is generally seen to be an informal street activity by the theatre sector.

Mixing It Up gives artists in Johannesburg and Cape Town a platform to portray South African stories through mixed dance styles, music and words. The project intends to develop a new generation of hip-hop dance artists with unique, world-class work. The best of the artists will be taken abroad to continue training.

It is believed this will help the artists to package their craft, manage their brands and attach value to them. Mixing It Up, furthermore, will encourage the performers to become socially aware.

The performers were selected from preliminary Sweat Week workshops and closed auditions held in November 2011 and January this year. Their new original work will be performed in Mixing It Up, thereby exposing it to influential stakeholders in the arts, dance and theatre sector.

Ash is just one of the artists performing at the Mixing It Up hip hop extravaganzaAsh is just one of the artists performing at the Mixing It Up hip-hop dance extravaganzaAudiences will experience cutting edge hip-hop dance theatre with a uniquely South African flavour featuring dance crews such as Soweto’s Finest from Johannesburg and Immortal Style from Cape Town. Well-known rappers and deejays will also perform, such as DJ Switch, who will be a role facilitator and mentor for the Johannesburg dancers.

Adding to the mix will be hip-hop dance theatre pioneers from France, Germany, Britain and Zimbabwe, including a special appearance by Clash 66, made up of Sebastien Ramirez of France and Hyun-Jung Wang, who studied dance in Germany.

Mamela Nyamza, an award-winning dancer, will be the curator of the showcase. Nyamza is renowned for her projects that break boundaries, including pieces that explore gender issues and sexuality, her small-scale performance works and participatory projects.

Kwesi Johnson of Kompany Malakhi will be in charge of developing the performers after the festival through a series of hip-hop master classes, which will encourage them to make positive contributions to the arts.

Mixing It Up is on at the University of Johannesburg Art Theatre. Tickets are R50 and are available at Computicket.

Related stories:

Gala gives dance taster
Sing along to American Anthems
Welcome to the jungle
Arts council wants proposals