Day Four: Just a lil demo…

On Saturday, the Next Level Academy continued. The program opened with a warm-up dance lesson session for the entire group. This was an important addition to the program, as ALL the students wanted to be involved in the dance program and this was our way of placating those who were in other groups. Our instructor Jukeboxx taught them some steps, then had the students do a cipher and as they danced had to pretend that their bodies were covered in ants, or while doing moves were dodging bird droppings (angry birds- to help the simulation, DJ 2Tone and I tossed lil scraps of wet toilet paper at the dancers). The State Dept should consider sending a DanceMotionUSA team to Patna…

After the dance lesson, the groups broke into workshops to continue honing in on the skills involved in the various hip hop labs. The students have been picking up the skills quickly.

In the Emcee workshop, the students are already turning poems into rhymes and beginning to work on the intricacies of performance. Students in the DJ and Beatmaking workshop are showing real promise and potential in the respective crafts. The dance workshop focused on steps, choreography and honing in on moves rather than just dancing.

During American Music Abroad auditions and Next Level Orientation, we give the bands worst case scenarios and ask how they would deal with the situation. Generally, that you are in Beirut, delayed by checkpoints on your way to a small music class at a refugee camp. When you arrive, instead of 30 kids for a workshop there are 300 kids for a concert.

Well…we got kinda close to one of those situations in real time.

The Principal of St. Karen’s asked if we could do a brief demo of the various hip hop elements for a few students going on vacation. We were busy in the workshops and PSAs, but I agreed we could do a small ten minute demo. I agreed that if it was small it could be done in between the break between the workshop and PSAs.

Instead of a small demo, we walked into a giant concert of 300 students and teachers in the hall.

The NL team laughed a bit, and got to work on an impromptu concert. I spoke to the crowd of the upcoming concert and the origins of hip hop as a voice for communities as the artists warmed up. They then demoed each respective craft, and how it fit into hip hop. For the grand finale, the students began demoing what they had been learning.

Teams of boy and girl students showed off the dance moves, while our student DJ students spun tracks. The school was abuzz with energy from the performance by the NL Academy students.

After we re-grouped from the impromptu concert, we got down to business on the PSA workshops. The Gender and Environment group were in the process of script-writing and location-scouting, and plan to start shooting Monday and Tuesday, respectively. The Civic Engagement PSA is being crafted as well.

At the end of the day, we had a surprise for the students. The NL teachers and I bought 4 giant watermelons to reward the students for their hard work ahead of a day off. We finished the day and first series of the academy over sweet slices of watermelon that were shared by students, teachers and staff alike.