Global Hip-Hop Hits Kennedy Center

Posted by Heather Fluit
July 31, 2009
Hip Hop Performance at Millennium Stage

About the Author: Heather Fluit is a summer intern serving as Editorial Assistant for DipNote in the Bureau of Public Affairs.

Being an intern in Washington, DC can be a great experience when you make the most of the opportunities in the city — especially when you’re coming all the way from South Dakota. And while I expected my internship with the State Department to be engaging and informative, I’ve certainly come to appreciate the diversity of the work that occurs here. This week after work, I went to a hip-hop dance show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Millennium Stage. The Millennium Stage hosts 365 performances per year for free; and “free” is an intern’s best friend. Normally that wouldn’t seem unusual for me to attend a free event (or, the jackpot — free food), but this performance happened to be part of a cultural exchange sponsored by the State Department’s own Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

What I found at the show was a group of incredibly talented young performers from Argentina, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The dancers had been training with and learning from American professionals in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC for the last several weeks. They clearly had natural talent to showcase at the performance, and the audience soaked up the question and answer session they had on-stage before the show’s finale. Via interpreters, the dancers answered questions about their impressions of the United States and their overwhelmingly positive experiences in the ECA Cultural Visitors Program. They were well-spoken and humble (if I could dance like them, I’m not sure I could maintain modesty). They were true cultural ambassadors and I was proud to see, in action, that the State Department dedicates the resources to facilitate these exchanges. An exchange is an investment, and has a great impact far beyond the weeks or months of the trip.

By the end of the show, I knew it was something I would have gladly paid for. And, I hope I can speak for most loan-burdened interns when I say that’s a great compliment. I encourage the DipNote community to check out ECA’s many other cultural exchange programs or learn more about the event.



Tennessee, USA
August 1, 2009

Skreetsweepa in Tennessee writes:

Why are we reminding the world that hip hop started in the U.S.? Now when people drive through an economically depressed area and hear this music, they will think of the United States. "But it isn't just the poor who appreciate hip hop" Yes, a great deal of young people of every background at some point listen to hip hop. However, it is the POOR who wallow in it for life. It is the POOR who imitate the clothing styles which encourage short-term thinking such as the accumulation of status symbols i.e. "bling" and "grillz" over long term investments like EDUCATION and SAVINGS. The POOR already spend enough time and money on instant gratification and thus they remain poor. This initiative just validates a lifestyle that perpetuates poverty. Oh well that just means less competition for us in the middle-class. Way to keep them dumb!!!!

Tennessee, USA
August 1, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

I'm too old to appreciate this; but, any element which unites the youth internationally in a peaceful manner is what its all about...they will be leaders one day, even if it is just of their own families.

New Mexico, USA
August 2, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Every generation comes up with a new "sound"..different beat by a different drummer...and it always starts in the streets and in someone's garage.

Were the Greatful Dead any less indicitive of their era?

The Who?

Music is structured freedom to express, scale and chord, melody and harmony happen.

By the notes on the page, or improvisation.

It's funny to think that any music "from America" is indiginous, other than of Native American Indian tribes.

Every thing else is either brought here, borrowed from someplace or time in a complete cultural soup. So we may tend to promote the rapid rise of musical trends in our intant-gratificational focused society, out of bordom with old rythms.

It used to cost about 5 thousand US dollars to produce a promotional album in recording studio for an up and coming rock band, just out of the garage w/ a couple gigs lined up.

Now you can go to Walmart and buy a "band in a box", install it on your computer, and you have an instant home recording studio with a few mics and such, and for far less, make your own CD.

Thus technology has as I've winessed it in the music industry , going from 2" analoge 24-track tape to the digital era, it caused huge upheaval in the record industry at the same time it sparked an amazing period of creative growth in terms of the art.

South Dakota, USA
August 4, 2009

Laurie in South Dakota writes:

What a great story. It is so nice to hear the good things our government is doing for a change. Best of luck to all the kids in the program, and to the writer, for putting it into perspective for all of us.

District Of Columbia, USA
August 11, 2009

Olimar in Washington DC writes:

Is great that young folks from South Dakota are able to experience the cultural diversity of Washington D.C. Great Job dear author!


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