This weekend is the 17th annual San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Festival, a raucous celebration of street dance held at the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. I saw "program A" of the show last night and it's one of the strongest years of the HHDF I've ever seen. Micaya the indefatigable organizer does an incredible job curating and honing her international army of performers every year. If you are smart, you will catch the festival this weekend, running through Sunday.
Some of my personal highlights, in order of performance:
- Cindy Claes: A London-based performer, Cindy is an amazing storyteller through dance, creating a compelling and personal drama with just a cell phone, a chair, and a trophy. She dances mainly dancehall, with hiphop and krump thrown in at key moments. The audience was so drawn into her story that we were shouting at the stage at the end.
- Mix'd Ingrdnts: I'm a huge fan of this all-female, mixed styles dance troupe. This piece "Mending the Seams" was more somber and militant than their other work that I've seen. Still dope, but lacking some of the explosive joy and individuality of some of their other pieces.
- Spulu: This Oakland-based dancer performs a powerful, if a bit on the nose, piece about police brutality. Excellent use of visual imagery to accent his dancing.
- Hilty and Bosch: These top lockers from Osaka are simply metahuman. No one else locks so cleanly and precisely, but with the joyfullness and looseness that makes locking so fun to watch. That said, the strobing projected animations were a little distracting for me.
- Ladia Yates: Formerly of the Bay Area, but now in Memphis, Ladia displays amazing control in her popping. And she just kills the Drake track "Hotline Bling."
- The Ruggeds: This Dutch b-boy crew just destroyed it last night. Displaying a very light and smooth style that you don't see much anywhere, they were one of the biggest crowd pleasers of the night.
- Loose Change: Eric Fenn's contemporary hip-hop troupe is another favorite of mine. While their movement is deceptively simple and even repetitive, they always have the most beautiful lines and flow. This piece "Conservation of Energy" has particularly lovely use of formations and movement across the floor.
- Academy of Villains: The Bay Area based Academy of Villains goes harder than any other troupe in the business. That said, I think I enjoyed the most their shadow-puppet style intro piece because it was so weird and clever. I'm hot and cold on their dance pieces, which are typically dark, aggressive, and brooding. But last night they were on point.
There's many other performers on the line-up for tonight and tomorrow. So catch it while you can!
As an added incentive / sad note, it's unclear what the future of the Palace of Fine Arts is as a performance venue. Rumors are it's being consider for a luxury hotel or other commercial venture. So this might be the last year to enjoy the HHDF in this amazing space. Head here, if you'd like to preserve the Palace of Fine Arts as a venue for the arts.
See the HHDF website for tickets and details.