Make Way for the Ladies of Hip Hop

June 26, 2012

In a couple of weeks, New York City’s Peridance Capezio Center will host the 8th Annual Ladies of Hip Hop Festival. Founded in 2004 by Michele Byrd-McPhee, the two-day event, July 14-15, puts women front and center in a traditionally male-dominated field. (Another leading lady of hip hop, Jennifer Weber, was featured in our May issue.) The line-up includes workshops in krumpin, house, dancehall, waacking, popping, hip hop, and flexin (you can register here), plus performances on Saturday and Sunday nights. Oh, and did I say “two-day event”? Make that two days and one really late night. On Thursday, July 12, the 1st Annual Ladies’ Battle goes down at the Highline Ballroom, starting at midnight.


While digging around for information about the festival, I came across this interview with dancers Linda LaNaija (who will lead the house workshop) and Big Tara, both members of the all-female, New York-based house group MAWU. I saw MAWU perform a couple of years ago at Hip Hop Generation Next and was completely drawn in by their radiance, soulfulness, and the impression that they were genuinely having a good time together. I know, I know: 19 minutes and 22 seconds is “long” for a YouTube video. But it’s worth watching for LaNaija’s reflections on how she found a home in house dancing and for Tara’s thoughts on what separates house from more aggressive genres like breaking. If you only have a few seconds, though, skip to 11:39-12:21 to see LaNaija in action, battling Yugson (a guy).  —Siobhan Burke



(And if you want to see more of that battle, here it is…)