Saturday, September 23, 2006

HIP HOP IS EVERYWHERE – Anthony Rodriguez

A young, spirited dancer by the name of Anthony Rodriguez will be making his debut as a choreographer in Eveoke Dance Theatre’s up and coming production called Hip Hop Is Everywhere, a dance/theatre performance.

Anthony, a 22 year old dancer and choreographer, is not aggressive nor is he shy. He seems to be content with his adopted dance family and shows a confidence in both dance and teaching well beyond his years. He’s a diminutive five-feet-five-inches tall and weighs in at approximately 110 pounds, soaking wet. Anthony is gay and comfortably proud of that fact. And since he lives in an accepting family (Eveoke) he is simply enjoying life, career, and everything dance has to offer.

I recently ventured out to Eveoke’s dance rehearsal studio on a hot, steamy afternoon. Before a practice session Anthony and I stretched our mental dancing muscles and this was the result:

Cuauhtemoc Q. Kish (CQK): You’re just about to see the results of your first major choreographed piece of work. What does that feel like?

Anthony Rodriguez (AR): Great; it’s a dream-come-true.

CQK: How did you accomplish this feat at such a young age?

AR: It all started a number of years ago (8th grade) when I participated in an after-school dance program at Wilson Middle School. I had won a dance scholarship and was asked to choose a place to study from a listing of dance companies in the area. I choose “Eveoke” and have studied with Gina Angelique and Yvonne Hernandez.

CQK: It seems like you have no regrets about that choice.

AR: No regrets at all. They have such a great intension (in their dance company) with where they want to go with their work. Their product is entertaining but it comes with a distinct, intentional social underpinning as well. It brings to the surface both a social and a political awareness and from that there is a spiritual growth that’s part of the overall package as well. It has allowed me to grow as a person, as an artist and as a spirit.

CQK: I understand that you are a dance teacher in your own right?

AR: Yes; I currently teach at Hoover High School. I love teaching youth and see myself doing that for years to come. Working with this age group provides me with a great energy source that the students gift me in a very natural and comfortable way.

CQK: Any advice that you want to give to young, gay individuals?

AR: As a mentor to kids I ask them to pay attention to detail and to make clear choices. I’m just the guide that hopefully will pull things out of them. They already have been blessed with the natural talent.

CQK: I’ve seen you do some quite competent dancing in a recent production called Parting the Sea. I enjoyed the fairy tale atmosphere of that production which was underscored by a very adult, universal message about borders. Was that a favorite of yours?

AR: Although I really enjoyed that production my favorites would have to include Funkalosophy and Soul of a Young Girl; Dancing with Anne Frank. The messages in both productions, although the Anne Frank production was based on historical fact, are similar; attempting to free yourself from the mess you or the world has got you into.

CQK: Hip Hop Is Everywhere; does that mean that it’s not restricted to one neighborhood?

AR: Absolutely, it’s really quite universal. I started choreographing very short segments (1 minute) of hip hop as an intermission piece. I incorporated dances from Ireland, China and India. And it just grew from there.

CQK: What exactly does the word “hip-hop” mean to you?

AR: It’s where you find about the “ME” in yourself. Hip-hop is tribal in nature—in the sense that the tribe knows many of the moves—but that very definition is expanded by the individual expression of the singular dancer. I enjoy it because it connects me to people, to a different rhythm of life and I enjoy just feeling the flow.

CQK: Tell me something about the process that you and the other two choreographers used in developing this production.

AR: Although we had joint technical meetings, we all choreographed our own contributions individually. Gina Angelique is working from the angle of women in hip-hop and Yvonne is working from an angle about objects.

CQK: Tell us more about your segment, “Hip Hop Is in Men.”

AR: We use the music of Saul Williams, a brilliant hip-hop artist; I play a character he wrote called Black Stacey. We wear hoodies (hooded sweat shirts) as a metaphor for discovering who we are underneath all that exterior dressing. It’s a breaking free and it speaks from the heart of my own experience. It’s about two guys struggling to love one another; fighting, fearing and then accepting.

CQK: Did this dance help you to discover who you are?

AR: No; this place (Eveoke) did. They define family for me; nurturing, loving, accepting.

CQK: What do you want your audience to take away from Hip Hop Is Everywhere?

AR: I want them to leave with an open mind about hip-hop; I want them to feel the essence of the music and make that application to world music.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to see a lot more of San Diego’s Eveoke Dance Theatre and in particular, a lot more of the handsome and talented Anthony Rodriguez. He’s an individual who dances to his personal mission statement: “I dance to reflect the many possibilities that everyone must achieve the most in their lives.”

It goes without saying that I encourage everyone to catch Hip Hop Is Everywhere at the 10th Avenue Theatre downtown (07/21 – 8/13), but don’t stop with this show. While you’re savoring the taste of Hip Hop Is Everywhere, you can start thinking about Eveoke’s 11th annual Celebrate Dance Festival in Balboa Park, August 25, 26 & 27, 2006.

This event is open to the public and it works for all ages and it’s free. They have invited over 70 dance companies to participate in both indoor and outdoor performance spaces. The festival will host workshops as well and this united cultural force is bound to entertain thousands. There is no better way for families to get together to spend an arts and culture weekend together.

For additional information about Hip Hop Is Everywhere or the festival, visit http://www.eveoke.org/ or call them directly at 619-238-1153.

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