Why the Sol Power Dance Competition at ASU Is More Than Hip-Hop

On October 28 through 30, Arizona’s hip-hop communities will link up at ASU’s Tempe campus with the university's School of Music, Dance and Theatre program for Sol Power.

Sol Power is a free-of-charge gathering where folks of all ages can embrace and celebrate hip-hop culture, which includes graffiti art, DJing, MCing (rapping), and dancing. The event is a long-standing collaborative effort between ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the local hip-hop community.

"Here at ASU, one of the special things that we have is a dance program that we have a hip hop track," says Jorge "House" Magana. He's a clinical assistant professor at the School of Music, Dance and Theatre program at ASU and the creative director of the Sol Power event. "So you can be a dance major and major in hip-hop movement. A lot of these students might not be able to get off campus, leave the state or be able to connect with some of the people that we're teaching them about."
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Urban Sol event on April 19, 2013
Tim Trimble

Magana also co-founded Furious Styles Crew in 1993, an international crew of artists from all walks of life and styles in the hip-hop culture. And because of Magana's reputation in the hip-hop scene, as he's traveled the world and developed business rapports and friendships with the top hip-hop artists, dancers, and musicians — he's able to share his connections with the ASU students and the metro Phoenix community.

One of those connects is world-renowned Flo Master — who's choreographed with Usher, danced and worked with Justin Timberlake, and appeared in the 2004 film Just Got Served dance-and-drama flick. Flowmaster will instruct at the Hip Hop Matters workshop at the ​Margaret Gisolo Dance Theater on the Tempe campus between 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. "He'll come in and present some of his journeys and then do a fun little master workshop with them," Magana says. Then from 6 to 9 p.m., the workshops will continue with the AZNA and Hip Hop Coalition dance groups from the campus.

Saturday, between 2 and 10 p.m., will be the main Sol Power event held at the Galvin Plaza south of the Fine Arts Center at the ASU campus in Tempe. A 3-on-3 'Last One Standing' freestyle battle is open to the students and community. California-, Las Vegas- and Mexico-based dancers are also trekking in and will try to win Flo Master's vote, as he'll be the first of three judges. The dancing trios will battle one another by fusing street, hip-hop, and club dancing and will be judged on skill, style, and originality. If the trio also has a dope intro and outro and can get the crowd riled up, the better the chances to garner the approval of two-out-of-three judges to advance to the next round.

The second judge is "my new faculty at ASU, Latasha Barnes," continues Magana. "She is a hip-hop and house dancer, and she has this jazz movement going on. She's an incredible mover and teacher." King Charles from Chicago will be the third judge. "He's the one who's responsible for the Chicago Footwork Movement and really expanding it to what it is now," Magana says. The Chi-town-derived dance is a style of quick foot shuffling where the dancer can get about three steps a second. Live art and music will be plentiful throughout the day and night. The last trio standing that wins on Saturday will get an automatic placement within the top 16 bracket at the Furious Styles Crew 29 dance competition on November 12 in Phoenix.

A choreography competition will follow, where dance groups will go out one group at a time. The groups of dancers will be judged on natural unity, rhythmic or non-rhythmic articulation, choice of theme and variation, and the overall composition of the routine.

On Sunday, a new type of dance competition will ensue at noon at Galvin Plaza. It's called EXPERIMEANT IT!

"Because most of our students are contemporary, modern, or ballet dancers, this competition will be a more open style, meaning that the music can go all over the place; it can range," Magana says. "So it's not based on just hi- hop, street, or club music like the Saturday battles were."

Instead, the performers can dance and move to traffic sounds or a fusion of everyday sounds and music. And the dancers will spontaneously receive props that the dancers have to infuse into their routine.

"There might be a famous quote from a known dancer; then how do you react and experiment with that and taking the provided prop. So it's going to be very experimental and a lot less structured. It opens up the space for the nontraditional street or hip-hop dancers to be able to get into this world and can still mesh with these kinds of structures." On Sunday, the event will go until 6 p.m.
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Urban Sol event on April 19, 2013
Tim Trimble
Magana says this is the time for the students to apply what they've learned through the curriculum.

"The material that was shared with them in class, now it comes to life, and now they have to embody it."

Sol Power
Friday, October 28, 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and then from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Margaret Gisolo Dance Theater on the ASU Tempe campus
Saturday, October 29, 2-10 p.m. at Galvin Plaza on the ASU Tempe campus
Sunday, October 30, noon-6 p.m. at Galvin Plaza on the ASU Tempe campus
Free admission