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This hip-hop artist is pushing the boundaries

DYNAMIC: Kwame Asafo-Adjei has been described as being “at the spearhead of the new generation of hip-hop dance theatre artists”

THE ARTS Foundation Futures Fellowship Hip-Hop Dance Award was won by Kwame Asafo-Adjei last week, with one leading dancer and choreographer hailing the young man as being “at the spearhead of the new generation of hip-hop dance theatre artists”.

The ceremony took place in London at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, with artist Tracey Emin presenting the award.

Asafo-Adjei’s work is known for its dynamic and alternative approach to story-telling. He pushes the boundaries of hip-hop dance and theatre, as well as continually confronting and re ecting on social and political themes.

He gained an interest in creating work and directing artists through participation in development programmes such as Open Art Surgery. By shadowing his mentors – hip-hop pioneer Jonzi D and choreographer Jonathan Burrows – he was able to open his mental blocks and gain clarity on his identity within his work, which he sees as being blunt, ugly, beautiful and truthful.

Kenrick Sandy MBE presided over the applications alongside Delia Barker, dance specialist and programmes director at the Roundhouse, and Benji Reid, UK pioneer of hip-hop theatre and culture.

The three other finalists, Julia Cheng, Chris Reyes and Juan Gaviria each received £1,000. Hip-hop Dance was just one of the art-forms receiving an award, alongside poetry, experi- mental architecture, visual arts and designer-makers.

Speaking on Asafo-Adjei’s success, Sandy said: “Kwame is at the spearhead of the new generation of hip-hop dance theatre artists. His vision leaves you provoked. That’s what art is supposed to do.”

IDENTITY

Asafo-Adjei is the founder and artistic director of Spoken Movement through which he creates his work. As part of a Wild Card evening at Sadler’s Wells, the company worked with a range of young people including a beatboxer, animator and sound composer.

Drawing on his heritage and experience of growing up in London, the pieces dwelt on issues such as cultural hierarchy and its impact on society as well as the concept of identity within black culture.

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