Get ready to get down. Heroes Rise Street Dance Academy, a new academy specializing in the increasingly popular art of street dance, has its grand opening this Saturday.
Founder of Heroes Rise Street Dance Academy Julius Jenkins believes street-style dances—which sprouted from Black culture in social settings like parties, streets, clubs, and parks—belong in the studio as well as the streets. It will be the first dance studio in Cincinnati dedicated to bringing street-style dances into an educational studio setting.
Street-style dances like Popping, Locking, Hip-Hop, Breaking, Vogue, and others that continue to thrive as an expressive art today in casual spaces are gradually being embraced as a legitimate specialty for dancers. But Cincinnati has widely fallen behind in establishing places to teach these practices and pushing the culture forward, says Jenkins.
The cultures that birthed these dances are central to the academy’s mission. Putting traditionally improvised and communal dance styles in a classroom can detract from its distinguishing flair. Telling the stories of the people and places essential to the art forms’ evolution is key to preserving street dance’s cultural integrity in the modern landscape of dance.
“People try to take the dances out of the culture, but all the dances were born from the music and from the activities of the people. It’s all one thing,” Jenkins says.
But street-style dances are gaining unprecedented traction in social and educational plains. Street dance’s influence is evident in the dance crazes that flood TikTok, and they’re still found in the venues that nurtured their beginnings. The African American art form has diffused in its full range globally, too. Street dance programs at U.S. colleges have become more common, and street dance studios and competitions have emerged in Asian and European countries—breakdancing is even set to be an Olympic event in the 2024 Paris games.
“American street-style dances are the most popular dances in the world…They have careers the same way we have dance careers for ballet or contemporary dancers where there’s a structure for them to succeed. These structures of American street dance already exist around the world in other countries. We have yet to embrace our own art forms here in that way, but slowly, we are getting to the point where people are aware that street dance is important,” Jenkins says.
Heroes Rise Street Dance Academy will offer classes on an array of dance forms and the history of the dances for people of all ages and learning objectives. At the Grand Opening, attendees can get a taste of the various dance styles that the academy has to offer. Multiple workshops will be held simultaneously, with people gathered in a circle—much like you might see at a party or club—to watch the instructors’ moves and get pointers on how to do it themselves.
The screening of the documentary Boogaloo: The Greatest Story Never Told will be a glimpse into the mission and guiding principles of street dance movements around the country. This will be followed by a Q&A session, and then capped off by one on one dance battles DJed by DJ Rare Groove.
“We are essentially the only people in the city offering this sort of a dance option, and if they’re interested in learning these dance styles for whatever reason, we’re here for them…from the party to the Olympics, that’s what we want to do,” Jenkins says.