Every year, Northwest Folklife engages a Northwest community to showcase during the year leading up to the Festival. This ‘Cultural Focus’ allows Folklife to connect more in depth with the people that we serve and empower their artistic expressions and cultural traditions.
We are honored to announce the 2015 Cultural Focus:
Beats, Rhymes and Rhythms:
Traditional Roots in Today’s Branches
This program will explore the cross-cultural roots of arts expressions that have evolved into contemporary cultures today, including an exploration of the traditional roots of Hip Hop.
African and Latin traditional dance, the blues, gospel songs and spirituals, scat-singing of the early jazz days, African-American street culture, word battles, socially conscious songwriting – these are just some of the seeds we’ll be exploring for this year’s Cultural Focus. Hip Hop, first included in Folklife Festival programming in 1994, serves as an umbrella for this program, and ties together many communities from around the Pacific Northwest – some of those that have been representing their cultures and traditions for years at the Festival. The goal is to present a multi-generational, multi-cultural, inter-disciplinary program to educate the Pacific Northwest about the cross-cultural roots of local communities while highlighting Hip Hop’s traditional folk roots.
This program is particularly timely in the state of development of hip hop culture and education, as Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed Hip Hop History Month in the State of Washington this November to honor the culture, lineage and impact of Hip Hop in the Northwest.
“Hip hop began as a youth-led movement and an alternative from violence, drugs, alcohol, racism, and other ills that plagued the
inner-city/urban communities of color; one that connects people from varied
social and economic backgrounds today.”
During the 2015 Folklife Festival (May 22-25), audiences can experience four days of music and dance performances, panels and presentations, films, visual arts and participatory workshops that explore the world and roots of Hip Hop. We will have the opportunity of celebrating the joyful expression within Hip Hop while challenging some of the pervasive stereotypes that malign the Hip Hop community today. The Program will tie the five key elements of Hip Hop–Music (DJing), Dance (B-boy and B-girl), Storytelling (MCing), Public Art (Graffiti), and Social Awareness–back to the traditional cultural origins of Hip Hop.
We will build up to the 2015 Festival through monthly events that will be held in Seattle and Northwest regions with partnering communities. Stay tuned for our full list of community events leading up to the 44th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival.