EXTRAORDINARY BREAKDANCING CLASS OPENS IN WEST SEATTLE (AND IT’S FREE!)

breakdance-kids

Every Monday from 3:30-4:30 pm West Seattle kids are invited to the Youngstown Cultural Center at 4408 Delridge Way SW to learn the basics of breakdancing with local b-boys Sammy Tekle and Robert Eyerman. Students don’t need experience and everyone is welcome.

Both Sammy and Robert learned the art of breakdancing from local dance legend Jerome Skee Aparis; a member of the World Champion Massive Monkees breakdance crew. Sammy and Robert’s group the VPC Dog Pound have also made a name for themselves by appearing at Seattle’s “Dance This!” at the Paramount Theater. Additionally, Sammy has most recently been seen at the Grammy’s dancing behind Macklemore during the opening segment featuring Macklemore’s song “Downtown”.

Both Sammy and Robert are well respected instructors with a number of local community organizations and charities including ArtsCorps, Rectech, ARC, and Unified Outreach. But our favorite part of the story is that Sammy and Robert both got their start breakdancing at the same location that they are now teaching classes. Nearly 10 years ago both beginning taking classes at Youngstown.

To register for the FREE class please click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breakdance-classes-with-dog-pound-crew-tickets-27710259131?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=escb&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing

SammyLOOKING FOR AN ADVANCE CLASS? There is also an additional advanced class from 5:30-6:30 pm that costs ~$60/month. The proceeds will go toward an end-of-year field trip to an out-of-state event that Sammy and I will be sponsoring. All ages welcome.

If you’re a teacher, parent, or anyone closely involved in the life of a youth, I urge you to share this post with as many of the other teachers/parents, and especially with the youth. Spread the word – let’s impact the next generation together.

Amazing list of honorees at the Robert Stephens, Jr. Awards ceremony

Awards winnerss June 20, 2015 Seattle’s Central District came together to celebrate long time advocates for youth, arts, social justice, and stronger neighborhoods; honoring some of Seattle’s most legendary names.

“We selected men who personally impacted us. The men in the room are the ledges whose shoulder we stand on.” Said Garfield Community Center Director Andre Franklin. Another member of the advisory committee stated that seeing so many true community leaders in one place left them “in awe”.

The event was birthed from a partnership between B.U.I.L.D. (Brothers United In Leadership Development), Unified Outreach, and the Garfield Community Center Advisory Board; along with Seattle Parks, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and 4Culture.

The event featured a full buffet spread with home style chicken, macaroni, greens, and corn bread. An incredible meal that in itself was worthy of celebration.pic food

Vicious Puppies Black and Blue Sammy Tekle Seattle2
Vicious Puppies aka Dog Pound

Music and MC duties were provided by DJ Surreal (aka George Yasutake), and guests were treated to a gravity defying performance from one of Seattle’s hottest breakdance groups, the Vicious Puppies (aka Dog Pound). Last month the Vicious Puppies brought their dramatic stage presentation of “Black and Blue” to the Neptune Theatre. The play brings social conscience and race relations to the front lines with a true-to-life story based on actual events. The play has received great reviews and the group is looking to expand the touring calendar throughout the summer. The Puppies have also played the main stage at the Sasquatch tour and other large venue events and are quickly becoming one of Seattle’s most in-demand groups.

Award Hampton
James Hampton receives his award.

Award honorees included well known community leaders who have served the people of Seattle for decades; as well as shining stars actively making a difference today.

The event recognized Mike Yasutake, John Yasutake, Gregory Davis, Aaron Dixon, Elmer Dixon, Bishop Ray Rogers, Steve Sneed, James Hampton, Reco Bembry, Guy Davis, and Larry Evans.

Each award recipient was introduced by someone who had a personal story of how the award winner had impacted their life.  The microphone was then handed to the award winner who then shared their own story about who had most impacted them.  The ceremony was full of humor and laughter, as well as somber moments and tears of gratitude.

IMG_20150620_115319 The afternoon culminated with the honoring and awarding of the new Robert Stephens, Jr. Community Service plaque which will hang in the Garfield Community Center.

Robert Stephens, Jr. has been a fixture in Seattle’s Central District for over 35 years. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Mr. Stephens, Jr. began serving the community after completing his tour in 1968. Mr. Stephens, Jr. has a Masters Degree in Education Psychology, is a K-12 teacher and school counselor, and has worked with Seattle Public Schools, Langston Hughes Cultural Art Center, Neighborhoods House, and Washington State Reformatory.

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Robert Stephens, Jr.

Mr. Stephens, Jr. has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations and governmental advisory committees over the years; and has had a hand in the establishment of Odessa Brown Health Clinic, Madrona Dance Studio (now Spectrum), Medgar Evers Swimming Pool, and dozens of other programs that are now an established part of the community.

Mr. Stephens, Jr. has served as the President of the Central Area Neighborhood District Council; founded the Seattle Central Area Cultural Arts Commission, and helped in the creation of Homer Harris Park.IMG_20150620_115407

When presenting the award, Garfield Community Center Advisory Council Member David Toledo stated “When we began searching for someone that exemplified the community spirit; someone who was a true advocate for our youth, for the arts, and for the neighborhood; we all knew right away that it was time to honor Robert Stephens, Jr.”

-JP Scratches

Dramatic Leap for Local Dance Crew as “Black & Blue” Debuts at the Historic Neptune Theatre

Black and Blue Dan Haile Vicious Puppies Seattle  June 11th, 2015 Writer/Director Maximilian Meador-Stockstill brings the real-life police/teen interactions of Seattle residents to the stage in an entertaining combination of drama, suspense, humor, and dance.

Sammy Tekle shines as the main character who (although recently deceased) walks the audience through a series of emotional flashbacks which start with him hanging with his crew (which include some spectacular dance performances) and end with him being shot during a routine traffic stop.Vicious Puppies Black and Blue Sammy Tekle Seattle2

Dan Haile has the audience in tears as he delivers the eulogy for his fallen friend; and Vicious Puppy (aka Dog Pound) members (Jonathan Higuchi, Binh Nguyen, Robert Eyerman, Justin Law, John Pham, Quan Nguyen) deliver a passionate back-and-forth debate regarding the role of police and how we as citizens should interact with them.Vicious Puppies Black and Blue Sammy Tekle Seattle

Black & Blue received a standing ovation and extremely positive feedback during the question & answer period following the performance. Writer/Director Maximilian Meador-Stockstill stated he would be interested in expanding the tour and all actors showed an interest in an extended run.

The Vicious Puppies (aka Dog Pound) continue their meteoric rise to celebrity status by expanding their already impressive resume which includes performances at the Paramount’s “Dance This!” and main stage performances at this Summer’s “Sasquatch” tour.

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Hip Hop History, Creativity, and Diversity Celebrated at Washington Hall

November 28, 2014 ~ The timing was perfect as earlier this month Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed November as Washington State Hip Hop History Month; following the lead of Mayor McGinn and the Seattle City Council who in 2010 proclaimed November Hip Hop History Month in Seattle.

Washington Hall celebrated Hip Hop History with an all-star performance line-up of Seattle’s biggest names in rap music; along with some of the nation’s top break-dancers sharing the stage. Musical artists participating in a freestyle open-mic “cypher” included platinum selling artist E-Dawg, along with city favorites Suntonio Bandanaz, B-Ragg, Sammy Tekle, Ernesto Iraheta, and more!

David Toledo Studio Narvaez Clayton Bragg
B-Ragg on the mic with David Toledo and Pablo D in back.

 

On stage were DJ’s Able Fader, Cues, Sureal, and A.C. who kept the place rocking from start to finish.

DJ Sureal
Tamao George Yasutake aka DJ Sureal

There was a delicious potluck buffet and a toy drive to help the B.U.I.L.D. Seattle Christmas giving-tree.

The event was sponsored by 206 Zulu, Seattle City Breakers, Unified Outreach, and Studio Narvaez, in partnership with 4Culture and Rane. It was organized by Nathan (SireOne) Hivick and hosted by the North City Rockers Ernesto Iraheta and Pele’ Ross, along with the fabled Specs Wizard.

The event will be the last break-dance celebration at Washington Hall for the next nine months as the facility begins to undergo renovations to restore the historic building and the install a new elevator; allowing special needs and wheel-chair bound visitors to enjoy the facility without limitations.

The elevator installation will be a blessing to special-needs artists with limited mobility, such as 206 Zulu founder and President Danny (King Khazm) Kogita who has been in a wheelchair since childhood. Also other artists such as Clayton (B-Ragg aka C-Dogg) Bragg who has limited mobility due to cerebral-palsy.

Clayton Bragg and E Dawg
Edawg and Clayton (B-Ragg) Bragg

Clayton is a rapper from Lynwood, Washington who as has a video channel on YouTube which provides regular album reviews for NW CD releases. Clayton has been spending time in the studio and is expecting his album out in early 2015. It was after reviewing the E-Dawg CD “How Long” that Clayton was contacted with a special invitation to attend the November 28th performance as E-Dawg was headlining the event.

David Toledo (Unified Outreach) made all arrangements and acted as Clayton’s personal assistant throughout the evening; physically carrying the artist up 3 flights of steps to the performance hall and making sure that Clayton had full access to E-Dawg and the other artists as well as great seating for all performances.

“It was great having B-Ragg attend the event. He’s doing a lot with his video blog and he’s hard at work in the studio. The crowd really enjoyed hearing him rap tonight; and with his own album coming out we believe that one day he’ll be headlining one of the shows.” David Toledo said.

Clayton Bragg David Toledo E Dawg
E-Dawg, B-Ragg, and David Toledo

Clayton said he really enjoyed the show and is especially excited about the people he was able to meet in person including E-Dawg, Seattle City Breaker’s founder Carolos (Slam) Barrientes, King Khazm, and most importantly DJ Sire One and Pablo D who occasionally act as guest hosts on Boom Box Radio; a Everett-based rap program that broadcasts on Friday nights at 10pm on station KSER 90.7 Fm. Clayton is looking forward to having his new album break on the show.

The event was also attended by a bevy of local celebrities including Georgio Brown from Coolout Tv and Dave (Pablo D) from Studio Narvaez; the two partnered in October for a Hip Hop Celebration at the Experience Music Project (EMP). Also attending were TYRONE “the Working Class Hero” Dumas, members of the North City Rockers, the Vicious Puppies, Massive Monkees, Seattle City Breakers, Circle of Fire, and other famous groups.

Sammy Tekle Vicious Puppies
Breakdancer and MC Sammy Tekle

Highlights of the night were an all-girl breakdance cypher which saw the return of Seattle’s old school b-girls Amber Jamieson and Jojo Tabora-Dyckhoff to the dance floor; as well as a “Seniors Classic” which featured “Seattle’s first b-boy” Junior Alefaio.

Judges for the night included the incredible Rigo Jones, Seattle City Breakers founding father Carlos “Slam” Barrientes, and consummate b-boy Rafael Contreras.

Donte Almenzor Junior Alefaio David Toledo Carlos Barrientes Raphael Contreras Robert Farrell
Old School Icon’s: (L-R) David Toledo, Donte Almenzor, Carlos Barrientes, Junior Alefaio, Raphael Contreras, Robert Farrell

Wrapping up the evenings events Sam “Preach” Dumas, founder of the (Masters of the Prep aka Party People in Action dance crew) issued a challenge to 1980’s dance rivals “the Ducky Boys” to meet at the same time next year for a “prep only” dance off; reviving a rivalry that goes back to 1985 and the Seattle Bandstand television show.   Will the Ducky Boys accept the challenge? We’ll know in exactly 12 months!

With construction estimated to take 9 months the event organizers hope that everything will be ready in time for the 2015 Hip Hop History Month celebration. Next year’s event promises to be on for the ages!

2015 JP Scratches

Story and photos may be reprinted in their entirety.