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Hip Hop Fundamentals: Breakdancers teach history to Philly students

Breakdance troupe Hip Hop Fundamentals is using music to teach civil rights history in light of the Philadelphia School District's planned mass closings.

Hip Hop Fundamentals (Credit: Kickstarter / Hip Hop Fundamentals).

A local group of breakdancers called Hip Hop Fundamentals held a free performance on Sunday at Clark Park in West Philadelphia.

The dance troupe, which uses breakdancing to teach academic content in light of the School District's planned closure of 24 public schools, kicked off a fundraising campaign to bring their Civil Rights Movement assembly toten neighborhood public schools, at no cost to the institutions.

The assembly is described as anhourlong interactive mashup of hip hop performance, history lecture and participatory theater focusing on student involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement as seen through the eyes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"With all these education cuts, young people in Philly are losing their ability to participate in the arts," Hip Hop Fundamentals co-owner and performer Mark Wong said in a statement.

"We want to provide that opportunity to the students who need it most in our communities."

Hip Hop Fundamentals last month launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $10,000 needed to take their Civil Rights Movement tour on the road.

"We want to share this educational experience with students at under-resourced schools in our city," Education Director Aaron Troisi said in a statement.

"But we also pride ourselves on employing young, local up-and-coming dancers and paying them well for their talent. So we have to raise the money somewhere. By donating to our Kickstarter, other caring people are empowering us to bring arts programming back into our schools."

An estimated 50 families attended the Sunday performance, with some of the audience members using their smart phones to donate to the cause on the spot.

"It’s an amazing assembly," said high school student Tyrell White, who performed on Sunday and at the debut of the show at The African American Museum on Martin Luther King Day.

"It’s the best history lesson I ever had."

 
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