Culture News

Cyphers: The Center of Urban Arts Opens Next Weekend Near Metrocenter

Danny "Scooby" Morales and House Magana are both way old-school. Besides being founding members of the Furious Styles Crew dance collective when it started close to two decades ago, they've been involved with the local hip-hop scene since the mid '90s (and also threw plenty of off-the-hook house parties way back when).

These days, the duo has been busy using their experience and street cred to help get their newest project Cyphers: The Center of Urban Arts off the ground. According to Morales, the venue -- which is located off 29th Avenue adjacent to Metrocenter -- will be dedicated to "cultivating street-level art forms" by providing a space to create and practice, as well as hosting different classes and workshops.

When Cyphers opens next weekend, Morales adds, it will focus on a variety of aspects of urban and street culture, including b-boy and hip-hop dancing, graf art, DJing, emceeing, and skateboarding.

"We want to give people a place of their own where they can work on their art form," he says. "So we've got a bunch of ideas and big list of things we'd like to be doing here. It won't just be a dance but more of an all-around spot, and what we hope will probably the hub for all urban art forms, even skateboarding."

Morales and Magana plan to have the center function more like a studio during the week - whether its holding seminars on sick street-form breaking and popping or how to drop killer cuts on the turntables.

Later today, the duo will be installing skate ramps and meeting with DJs and artists who will be in the house for the center's two-day grand opening, some of whom will host future classes and workshops. Morales, who runs b-boy dance troupe Breakstreet Promotions (whom you might have seen perform on Fifth Street during past First Fridays), says instructors will not only teach the skills of each art form, but also the history involved.

"They'll be breaking it down, teaching about where it came from," he says. "Graf artists will also be given info about the history of it and the full art form of graf culture. Dancers will learn about where the dance moves came from. They'll also learn about how they can market themselves as artist and make the most of it. We really want to take them and in teaching them the proper way of doing things."

Morales says the center's name plays off the importance in urban and hip-hop culture f the term "cypher," which can refer to a circle of b-boy dancers, slam poets, or emcees performing.

"There's always an energy withing a circle of performers, whether you're doing a hip-emcee battle or with dancing. You're in that circle telling a story and feeding off everyone," he says. "So to us, Cyphers had to be the name of the center since it fit with that sort of energy."

A B-boy showdown is scheduled for Saturday, January 21, and will offer cash and prizes for the best breakers and freestylers. On Sunday, a wealth of workshops, demonstrations, and performances will take place conducted by a number of local tastemaking artists, DJs, and dance instructors. Graf art specialists like Serv One, Adam "Dumperfoo" Dumper, and Thomas "Breeze" Marcus are scheduled to appear, while such troupe 5 Foot Thrillaz, Furious Styles, and Boogie Pimpz will strut their stuff.

"There's a lot of people, now that me and House have this spot, that are all coming together and asking what they can do to help make this place better and help make the Phoenix hip-hop culture grow," Morales says.

The grand opening of Cyphers: The Center for Urban Arts, 9201 North 29th Avenue, takes place on Saturday, January 21, and Sunday, January 22. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. Click here for more info.

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