In 2006, when Proposition 300 passed in Arizona, university students who were not U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or did not have lawful immigration status could not be eligible for in-state tuition or financial aid. Juarez was enraged.

She joined forces with her best friend, Silvia Rodriguez, and formed a small improv group called Teatro Nopalero. Together, they drew crowds during protests, took over sidewalks, and dressed as police clowns to welcome Sheriff Joe Arpaio when he was at ASU's downtown campus for a presentation.

Nopaleros was (and still is) on a mission to educate people — whether or not they have Social Security numbers — about human rights and cultural awareness.

Thomas Greyeyes
Claire Lawton
Thomas Greyeyes
Work by Thomas Greyeyes
Claire Lawton
Work by Thomas Greyeyes

"It has been a very scary time for the Mexican community," says Juarez. "I've been asked for my ID, I've been pulled over because someone thought I fit a profile . . . but I have to stand up to that and I'm not going to pretend it's right or live in fear."

Juarez has a master's in higher education from ASU and is paying for most of it through acting and commercial jobs, as well as a gig as an ordained minister. She says she's constantly acting or filling a role, whether that be in front of a classroom, on a stage, in a crowd, or behind a podium — and each has a different change of clothes that she usually has to keep in her car because of her tight schedule.

More than anything, Juarez isn't afraid to be the voice of the struggle. She was brought to the United States from Mexico when she was 5. She talks about friends who can't go to the doctor when they're sick because of their status and young groups she performs for who fight to fit in and stay in the neighborhoods they've always called home.

This woman takes her mission seriously. But she glows with excitement as she talks about her weekend plans; she'll be performing on stage at the national conference of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) at the Civic Space Park, hanging out with friends, helping family, officiating at three weddings. Don't worry, she says. She'll have a change of clothes in the car. — Claire Lawton

Years before Danny "Scooby" Morales found himself installing 4,000 square feet of hardwood flooring, the local, self-described hip-hop head would bring his family out to 9201 North 29th Avenue on weekends to sit on the curb and dream.

The building has a long history in the hip-hop community — years ago, it used to be the spot for late-night parties and dance-crew battles. It was here, and through his involvement as a founding member of Furious Styles Crew dance collective, that Morales met Jorge "House" Magana.

The building's sign has changed regularly; it was a record shop, a jiu-jitsu studio, and a vacant space with a "for lease" sign. A few months ago, during one of his family trips to the spot, Morales says he finally took a deep breath and made two phone calls — one to the building's leasing agent, and the other to Magana.

Morales, 36, and Magana, 39, grew up in the neighborhood that surrounds Metrocenter Mall and Castles-n-Coasters. They remember cruising around the amusement park and hanging out at the mall.

"It used to be the place for young people to be and hang out before it got a bad rap," Morales says. "Now, all the kids go to Arrowhead and the hip-hop community goes elsewhere."

Two months ago, Morales and Magana opened Cyphers: The Center for Urban Arts with a big mission — to bring the community back together.

The name, Magana says, is the term in hip-hop culture for the circle that B-boy dancers, MCs, slam poets, and musicians often naturally form. "The cypher is where the energy is — it's as much the feeling as it is the formation . . . Dancers and performers spend a lot of time competing and performing on stages and for crowds, but it's in the cypher that they truly earn the respect of each other."

Respect plays a big part in the Cyphers operation. Magana says the curriculum for each of the classes offered in the space — from B-boy, breakdancing, and funk dancing to soon-to-come classes in DJing and aerosol art — is rooted in learning the history of each art form. Before developing and fine-tuning the techniques, members build respect for the art and for each other.

Foremost, Magana (who teaches most of the classes) is a dancer. He started dancing as a teenager in Chicago, and through various crews has performed and competed all over world. When he moved to Phoenix in the early '90s, he and a few friends formed "Styles Crew" (now known as Furious Styles Crew), and while he continues to dance at local clubs, he also teaches urban dance in local studios and at Arizona State University.

"When Scooby approached me about the spot a few months ago, I didn't buy it. But he won me over," he says, and laughs a little. "He's a lot bigger than me."

"I've had this idea in my head forever," Morales says. "I wanted a spot for my own kids to learn about hip-hop culture. I wanted them to have the opportunity to be a part of a community and have a safe place to hang out."

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