Jackie Kibuka, Emma Houston and Jordan Douglas are some of the UK’s best known hip hop and underground dancers.
Thanks to Oxford’s Body Politic you can now watch them live, grab a few tips and ask them questions in a live Q&A session with the hip hop dance stars, in the new monthly Live Lockdown Sessions.
Jackie Kibuka’s Hip Hop class (see main picture) is up next on Friday July 3. The authentic, passionate and versatile movement artist has over 10 years experienced featured in Breaking Convention, London Fashion Week, Diversity Live, ITV Loose Women, Got to Dance S1, Everyone’s Talking about Jamie (film), or Some Like It Hip Hop.
She will be followed by Emma Houston demonstrating Breaking on Friday 7 August and Jordan Douglas featuring Krump on Friday 4 September.
Aimed at 12-16 year olds, the three 50 minute sessions will be hosted on Instagram live, followed by a 10 minute Q&A session delivered by Body Politic, using collated questions from young people in Oxford.
Masterminded by Artistic Director, Emma-Jane Greig, who started Body Politic in 2012, she hopes the new initiative will re-engage with young people during lockdown.
“Body politic is about building young people up and giving them the right tools, and dance can do that”
“Arts and physical eduction are both so important to the physical and emotional wellbeing of young people, especially now when they need them the most,” Emma-Jane explains, “so we are trying to do our bit to keep young people engaged.”
Body Politic is a professional touring hip hop theatre company which tours hard-hitting dance shows with a strong narrative as well as running extensive outreach programmes for young people aged 11-19 in deprived areas of Oxford, to improve self-confidence and self-esteem through dance.
The lockdown must have hit Body Politic hard then? “We were gearing up to go into creation of a new piece of work titled THEM which explores three women’s struggle to navigate loss of self, trauma and the impact societal-defined generalisations has on our sense of worth,” Emma-Jane admits.
“When people come to see a dance show that has a message, something evocative or current, #blacklivesmatter or father/son relationships, it allows young people to be heard, and empowers them.
“So our work uses story-telling and hip hop vocabulary to evoke change and empower marginalised voices.” Which would explain why their last show Father Figurine, which toured across the UK from Scarborough and London to Norwich and Bristol, went down so well with audiences.
Body Politic also runs extremely successful outreach programmes in deprived areas such as Barton, Wood Farm and Blackbird Leys, making sure that dance is accessible, and breaking down the barriers around dance.
“But we have been very lucky in other ways. We’ve got Arts Council funding which has enabled us to curate this series of Live Lockdown Sessions, to remind young people that they still matter and that they can still train and dance,” Emma-Jane adds.
“hip hop is a reaction to what young people see in their community and the culture around them. It’s about expressing themselves, their repression and giving young people a voice”
So why Hip Hop? “You don’t need the right kit, it’s not expensive, it’s about coming along and taking part and supporting these young people in a safe space and environment, while improving their physical and mental wellbeing,” Emma-Jane explains.
Body Politic works with artists primarily from BAME backgrounds and actively address the lack of BAME representation by creating evocative theatre work or implementing ambitious outreach programmes.
So what of the future? “We hope to get back into theatre spaces as soon as possible, to get back to normality. It’s all a bit unknown though – the real impact this will have on the industry and how we navigate it, but we want to keep engaging with young people. It’s all so up in the air at the moment so we are reevaluating at the moment, just figuring things out.
Emma-Jane grew up in Oxford and then went to Manchester University to study psychology. Joining the university dance group she was introduced to hip hop and instantly fell in love with it.
Her first job was at pupil referral unit Oxford’s Meadow Brook College in the early intervention department which she loved, introducing a hip hop class for students there. She also worked at Mental Health Care in-patient wards, disabled groups, early intervention hubs as well as at Cheney and Oxford Academy schools and further education colleges.
“Hip Hop is cool and accessible, it’s become almost mainstream so is easier to inspire and engage people now”
When she saw how beneficial her classes were, and how quickly pupils responded, Emma decided to broaden her reach by starting Body Politic.
“The hip hop classes really help with self esteem and confidence issues. Every young person is so different, we want them to believe in themselves even if they do come from unstable backgrounds. It’s about building young people up and giving them the right tools, and dance can do that.”
So what is it about Hip Hop that works so well? “It’s a reaction to what young people see in their community and the culture around them. It’s about expressing themselves, their repression and giving young people a voice.
“Hip Hop is cool and accessible, its become almost mainstream so is easier to inspire and engage people now. And at Body Politic we just want to support the young people we work with, and engage them.”
As for the future, Body Politic has lots of future plans for internships, apps, holiday courses, and mentoring on the horizon. They are also working with Oxford University on a study about the positive effects of dance on young people and work with Public Health England, Access Sport, Arts Council, and Dancin’ Oxford, Oxford City Council, Oxford Dance Forum, The National Lottery Community Fund and Oxfordshire Community Foundation, but for now you can get involved by watching the next live streaming: