Pop-locking, hip-hopping, and jaw dropping are just a few words to describe the weekend at the Ararat Hip Hop Festival on November 5 and 6 at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre. Central Grampians LLEN supported the event through the organisation of workshops and volunteering as mentors on the day.
The festival schedule was packed with different kinds of workshops and performances. The weekend proved to be an exciting celebration as the participants aged 12-25 expressed themselves creatively and learnt about the ins-and-outs of Hip Hop culture through writing, dancing, and painting workshops with guidance from inspiring mentors like Youthworx Media, Pang Productions, Existdance, KG crew, Pan Afrikan Poets Café, Candy Bowers, Sista Zai, Rawthentic artists and more.
Sometimes identity can prove to be a real struggle, even more so when we try to express it. A spoken word workshop, run by Pan Afrikan Poets Café, encouraged young people and volunteers to reflect on their identity through rhymes. They were asked to express how they thought other people in their communities saw them, and then to express how they wanted to be seen. The results were powerful poems that encouraged us all to reflect on prejudices.
Creating is one part, sharing is another. Brave souls exposed themselves through these workshops, and were accepted with open arms. In addition to creative writing, workshoppers were also encouraged to draw themselves as another way to validate the expression of their identity as seen in the picture to the left. One of the workshoppers strongly connected with mentor Candy Bowers, and explored identity through poetry and drawings.
If words aren’t your cup of tea, maybe dancing is. Hip Hop dances like breakdancing or B-Boying are strong and impressive forms of self expression. Participants were encouraged to get involved in a freestyle dance-off in which we saw legs flying, arms flailing, and bodies spinning to funky rhythms. Mentors from Existdance and choreographer KG and crew also helped the kids explore this urban realm of dance through engaging choreography in which the participants learnt new dancing skills.
The young people that got involved ranged from beginners to advanced dancers who all inspired each other along the way. Seeing someone dance is like watching fireworks burst in the sky, it’s exciting, it’s impressive, and it always leaves you wanting for more.
Developing a unique style is key to exploring communication in the arts. Before taking up a spray can of their own, participants practiced and developed their unique styles and skills on paper. Rapper and artist Joe Snow from Pang Productions helped run the workshop, teaching the participants the basics of how and when to use spray cans.
Communicating through words and colour proved to be an amazing exercise for participants to reflect on their personalities. Workshoppers painted their names in various colours on the walls of the Ararat Performing Arts Centre. The chosen walls within the centre are aligned with a redevelopment of the arts centre and were perfect for creative experimentation.
Di Toulson from the Ararat Performing Arts Centre, and Chichi Nwokocha the festival producer did a remarkable job at organising and hosting the event. Central Grampians LLEN would like to thank the Ararat Performing Arts Centre, Chichi Nwokocha, all of the mentors and young people for making this a collaborative learning experience.