When the dancers began their flips and tricks — including a gasp-inducing, precisely controlled tumble down the stairs of the Performing Arts Center to the stage — the CA campus community knew this assembly would unfold in a higher gear than usual. Wearing, by turns, silly hats and a variety of masks, and employing broad physical comedy alongside stunning feats of athleticism, strength, balance, and agility, the dancers from Illstyle & Peace Productions made a powerful impression when they visited Concord Academy on January 16.

They presented a program, “Become Your Dream: A History of Hip-Hop,” demonstrating several dance styles, including locking, popping, and breaking, and discussing their origins, in a vigorous and engaging historical tour of dance. The audience clapped throughout, keeping the beat. Excitement grew when Illstyle & Peace called for student volunteers to come on stage and show their own moves. When four teachers joined them, the energy went through the roof.

The professional hip-hop dance group has a history of partnership with CA, having first visited more than 10 years ago. Unflagging after their demanding assembly, the dancers then offered a master class to the full CA community in the dance studio. More than 30 students attended. Afterward, all were invited to watch an open choreography session they held with CA Dance Project.

Founded in 2000 by Brandon “Peace” Albright, the company creates work rooted in contemporary, West African, old-school and new-school hip-hop, blended with an eclectic mix of dance and performance disciplines, including locking, popping, breaking, tap, ballet, hip-hop, and house dancing. The company has toured to critical acclaim nationally and internationally and was selected as 2013 Culture Ambassadors by the U.S. Department of State, touring Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Their slogan, for which “peace” is an acronym: “Positive energy allows constant elevation.”

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