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FRESH KICKS

all photos by zo // @zoiscozii

battle awards handstyle by east3 // @EASTthree

Hazmat
Mana Breaks
MC Bo-Seph
Bboy Battle
Bgirl Sara
Swagmaster CJ
MC Bo-Seph
Headache
Tiara Summer
Henry Harrison II
Arc

ABOUT FRESH KICKS

DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

The founder, Cherie "Breezie" Gendron, birthed the idea of the Fresh Kicks jam through her thesis development process, ultimately fulfilling her MFA in Dance. Alongside her 20-minute choreography, she conceptualized, designed, organized, and marketed the jam. In the Spring of 2022, Breezie started at the drawing board. She knew the requirements for the MFA degree, like most, which prioritize choreography and dance-making. Eventually, she came to the conclusion that street dance, and its culture, are simply different from the institutionalized ideas surrounding performance and dance-making. All MFA Dance Candidates at UH Mānoa are offered a 15-minute slot in an annual show titled "Spring Footholds" taking place in the lab theatre which doubles as a classroom. Before committing to this offer, she considered three important questions: How does this give back to the culture? How does this contribute to the local street dance community? How does this cultivate pleasure and joy as a mode of resistance? Her analysis of the annual show and dance program revealed that it perpetuates the exclusion of dance spaces and the hierarchization of dance practices. She denied the offer and set out to produce a larger project. After dozens of grant application processes and sponsor communications, she was awarded funding. Under the mentorship of Dr. Sai Bhatawadekar and KāleoTen, she produced Fresh Kicks.

AIMS & MODALITIES

Going back to the important questions, Breezie aimed to give back to the culture that has given her so much. There is a saying in the larger street dance community, "for the culture." Without expecting anything in return, in Breezie's opinion, it's about making action-oriented steps toward living and carrying the values, traditions, and practices of street and club dance. One of the main aims of Fresh Kicks was to carry and honor this tradition. In addressing the second question, producing a jam with and for the local street dance community of O'ahu seemed like a good first step. For Breezie and her positionality in the community, contributing is an ongoing practice of participation, support, allyship, listening, and respecting Hawaiian cultural practices and traditions. In retrospect, Fresh Kicks could have done more to honor and acknowledge the 'āina and Kānaka Maoli. Future volumes of the jam will include this fourth aim. The final aim of cultivating pleasure and joy as modes of resistance was met through the inherent structure of a traditional jam and the culture already in existence within the local street dance community.  A traditional jam, originally a pleasure and joy-making strategy implemented within Hip Hop Culture, is essentially a party. People coming together for dancing, socializing, music, and fun. Over time, the battles became an important part of the jam. In this way, Fresh Kicks carried on a tradition of pleasure and joy-making.

 

Besides the inherent structure of a jam, the local street dance community of O'ahu is a very special one. With two years of attending and participating in the local jams, Breezie had the pleasure of experiencing aloha (not the marketed version sold to tourists). This community truly builds from a place of love and respect for humans and the island, and it was through their support, and community members showing up and participating, that Fresh Kicks could contribute to the existing culture. Jams on the mainland, in Breezie's experience, can be filled with tension and an overall more competitive atmosphere. With larger showings, it's much like attending a concert; a large group of people showing up for street dance culture, watching and vocalizing support in appreciation of street dance. Attending jams on O'ahu is like showing up for a family reunion. Breezie has so much gratitude for the support of the local community and for how she was welcomed into the scene. Her experiences in many higher education dance programs were much different; it was often isolating and unsupportive as a street dancer and practitioner. This stark difference in experiences served as a reminder of how Breezie didn't need to invent new ways or use popular appropriations of utilizing pleasure and joy-making as modes of resistance because they already existed, inherent in the practices and traditions she is a guest of. Breezie incorporated Black Feminist theories of Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown and joy-making through self-care as social justice tools of A Burst of Light by Audre Lorde into her thesis choreography performed at the jam and the dance-making process. In an effort to honor a deeper understanding of the ways in which joy and pleasure have been cultivated by Black and Brown people for a long time, she incorporated these resistance modalities into the organizing process. Each element of Fresh Kicks was intentionally included to create moments of pleasure and joy. In this way, Fresh Kicks was an opportunity for Breezie to practice allyship while participating in the ongoing effort of pleasure and joy-making as resistance propelling anti-racism and community-building. 

watch the battles on youtube

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