Guest Post by Rosalind Lloyd
Last month, the Center featured an amazing program, “Old School Fly Girl Throw Down,” and hip-hop was surely in the house. The timing of the presentation could not have been better, coinciding directly with both Women’s History Month and the unveiling of the restoration of Keith Haring’s “Once Upon a Time,” mural. The showcase was a fitting blend of urban dance, spoken word, vocals with live DJs laying the soundtrack, all with a particularly feminine flair. It was a collage of old-school meets new-school that highlighted a rich urban history spanning well over twenty years, one not typically associated with women. Each performance displayed poignant portrayals of creative expression through movement, music and verse celebrating a unifying message of solidarity and acceptance.
Poet, performer and educator Charon P. Morris, a LAMBDA Literary Foundation 2011 Emerging LGBT Voices Fellow and an extraordinary woman in her own right, performed two riveting spoken word pieces that touched on topics ranging from homophobia to misogyny.
Some in the line-up were members and/or graduates of The Door, like Coyote, an impressive, 23 year-old spoken word artist. Her poetry recalled her growing up gay in a deeply religious household and how the experience led to her becoming homeless while only in her mid-teens. Hers is a story of evolutionary progress in the face of adversity as this Howard University graduate is currently working on her Masters at Julliard. Songstress Mika engaged the audience with her vivacious performance, which encouraged active audience participation. Mika’s footnote outlined the fact that she only recently came out which was a show of bold independence and liberation that many in the diverse audience from the young to mature could easily identify with.
It isn’t hip-hop if there isn’t anyone representing on the ones and twos. Chicago-born and bred DJ Brina created an amazing beat backdrop for the evening while DJ Val brought us to the 21st century proving that DJing has indeed gone beyond two turntables with her sophisticated, computerized musical compositions during her hi-tech set.
Headlining and one of the organizers of the event was the spirited Fly Girl, Rokafella, of the prolific Full Circle, whose fluid, B-girl moves made it perfectly clear that she could definitely out-rock any fellow and any female with her energetic choreography. She brought along her all-female, multicultural dance troupe, Full Circle Soulsistas, whom in turn, brought much flavor to the evening. These talented ladies mesmerized the audience with their beautifully acrobatic moves. Their extraordinary backgrounds proved how far reaching and influential hip-hop is with the ladies reigning from the Bronx, New Jersey and Staten Island to as far away as London, Hong Kong and Japan. Some are moms, pilates/yoga instructors and proficient theatrical performers with dance backgrounds spanning some 15 years or more. They all rocked the house effortlessly. As the more–than-capable Mistress of Ceremony, Rokafella closed the evening by surprising the crowd with some free-style vocals of her own, which had the entire audience on its feet, rocking to the beat.