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Spoken word, hip-hop events on tap for spring, summer

April 16, 2008 By Gwen Evans

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) has a robust and exciting lineup of spoken word and hip-hop events planned for the spring and summer, including talented and passionate teens just finding their voices, hip-hop theater from UW–Madison students and a galaxy of celebrated artists, performers and educators in the emerging hip-hop arts field.

All the activities strengthen UW–Madison’s position as a leader in the institutionalization of hip hop in higher education.

Poets, emcees, storytellers, performance artists and educators will converge in Madison Tuesday-Friday, April 22-25, for a symposium on spoken word, hip hop and the academy called "Line Breaks: The Remix."

The event begins Tuesday, April 22, from 7-9 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre, 115 King St., with the premiere of a documentary on UW–Madison’s First Wave Spoken Word and Urban Arts Learning Community as well as guest artist appearances. The documentary will be broadcast later on the Big Ten Network as part of UW–Madison’s campus programming. 

On April 23, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, a Broadway veteran, National Poetry Slam champion and 2007 UW–Madison artist in residence, will be joined by an all-star lineup of hip-hop artists and scholars for four days of performances, panels and discussions.

Artists and scholars participating will include Chuck D, the frontman of seminal rap group Public Enemy, influential historian Jeff Chang, as well as HBO Def Poets Rafael Casal and Mayda del Valle, dancer Rennie Harris, theater artist Rha Goddess, radio personality Davey D and acclaimed b-girl Rokafella.

"Line Breaks: The Remix" builds on Bamuthi’s Line Breaks residency at UW–Madison last year. Scheduled in conjunction with Hip Hop as a Movement Week, the event will explore the deep intellectual roots of hip hop and how it has become the defining and organizing movement for a new generation. Session titles include "Hip-Hip 101: Remixing Education," "Total Chaos: Hip-Hop Theater," "Turning the Page: Hip-Hop Poetics" and "The Future of Hip-Hop Studies."

The symposium all culminates in the "Line Breaks Showcase: Hip-Hop on the Main Stage" from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, at the Memorial Union Theater. The First Wave spring showcase will be featured at the event.

Tickets for the Line Breaks show are $15 adults, $5 students, available at the Union Theater Box Office.

And coming Monday-Friday, July 7-11, OMAI will host the third annual Spoken Word and Hip-Hop Education Institute for teachers and community leaders to examine best practices in hip-hop and spoken word pedagogy.

For more information on these events, call (608) 890-1006.