HOUSTON – A lot of hip-hop fans think the music and dance has gotten a bad rap over the years.
So now Break Free Houston Hip Hop School wants to teach folks what's right about the freestyle dance movement. To help do that, they’ve kicked off a nonstop $1 million hip-hop dance marathon.
Hip-hop has made some big moves, from tough New York gangsta rappers to little pre-kindergarteners. Small kids with big skills and a big attitude attend BreakFree Houston. The city's first official hip-hop school, says hip-hop has taken a wrong turn.
“Mainstream hip-hop, there’s a lot of emphasis on money, power, fame and drugs. We certainly don't advocate that type of lifestyle,” BreakFree Assistant Director Jeremy Pena said. “I would consider myself hip-hop. My staff, my students know nothing about that (lifestyle).”
BreakFree Houston holds after school classes on arts that came from the street and what they should be about.
“We teach breaking, graffiti, DJ-ing and poetry.” Pena said. “It’s about peace, love, unity and having fun.”
It’s worked for 12 year old Cullen Chatman who says, “I was bullied a lot.” Hip-hop gave him street cred and Cullen says, “Definitely a lot more confidence.”
His confidence is up. The bullying is down. Cullen added that, “It’s way better than it used to be.”
Dancers form a semicircle or a cypher and each takes turns freestyling their moves. Right now the school is holding a 24-7 cypher to raise scholarship money. They're aiming high.
“So far we have raised 52 scholarships, raised $27,000 of $1 million goal,” Pena said.
He knows it’s a lofty goal, but believes they need a big target to make a statement.
Five-year-old Alexa Martinez is a student.
“I want to dance because I want to be on stage,” she said.
She has some impressive moves, from kick outs to headstands. Like hip-hop itself, Alexa isn’t afraid to show the world, what she’s got.