Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Group proves hip-hop value

Using their talents in urban arts, 15 University of
Wisconsin students will aim tonight to educate and entertain using subculture
art forms to prove hip-hop is valuable despite the negative label it is
sometimes given.

The First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble will perform —
alongside Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Staceyann Chin, Rokafella & Kwikstep and
Rennie Harris — as a part of the Line Breaks Showcase at the Memorial Union
Theater for Hip Hop As a Movement Week, presented by the Multicultural Student

The First Wave Spoken Word and Urban Arts Learning Community
is comprised of a group of 15 freshmen from around the United States who share
a gift and passion for communicating the voice of social change through hip-hop
on the University of Wisconsin campus. The students’ talents span a variety of
artistic fields, from rap and song to break dance and spoken word.


“As an ensemble we perform hip-hop theater which is
based on all of our own [writing and choreographing],” said Kim Anh
Truong, a First Wave performing artist. “We’re … a community brought
together by hip-hop.”

Despite of the violent stereotype hip-hop is sometimes
given, the First Wave students confirm that, through hip-hop’s many performance
styles, it can be a positive mode of expressing oneself and bringing about
awareness of a style and culture that, since its origin in the 1970s, has
become a major piece of the inner-city United States.

“The youth across all kinds of communities, cultures
and backgrounds are really getting into the hip-hop movement … using it as a
positive thing,” said Gayle Smaller, First Wave singer and spoken word

Throughout the year, the First Wave performers have been
taking classes and rehearsing together, growing both individually as artists
and together as a community. In addition to rehearsing and performing, the
First Wave students participate in community outreach, helping high school
students in Madison and around the country express themselves through writing.
In the past, First Wave performers have traveled to Chicago, Anaheim, Orlando
and New York City as mentors and ambassadors of the urban arts.

“First Wave … gives us the opportunity for our voices
to be heard,” said Truong, as her unmistakable passion for the hip-hop
arts became more obvious. “The biggest thing I’ve learned through First
Wave is the importance of your voice and how a family can support you in

All year the First Wave artists have been honing their
creative talents and subsequently growing together as a group. Their spring
showcase Thursday will be the epitome of their progress so far, as they perform
a wide range of urban arts as both solo performers and ensembles for their
excited audience.

“They can expect to go through a range of emotions …
but leave feeling complete and thoroughly entertained,” Smaller explained.

Truong gave The Badger Herald a preview of the comedic poem
about the “freshman 15” she will be performing Thursday with her
First Wave colleague Blaire White.

“[White and I] were kind of frustrated with the whole
concept, … so we wrote a piece about dieting and the image of beauty,”
Truong said.

Those who join the First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble will
be witness to one of many attempts at awareness and social change on the UW
campus, as the performers give voice to individuals for whom urban arts is the
most powerful way to make an impact.


The First Wave artists will be performing in the Line
Breaks Showcase: Hip-Hop on the Main Stage tonight at 7 p.m. in the Memorial
Union Theater. Tickets are $5 for students and $15 for guests and are available
at the Union Theater Box Office.

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