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.”
On June 3, Concord Academy honored the class of 2022 in the Academy Garden, celebrating the accomplishments and promise of the newest members of CA’s alumnae/i community. A damp morning didn’t subdue the spirits of the 102 members of CA’s 98th graduating class. And in her Commencement address, Trelane Clark ’92, P’22 advised them to embrace gratitude, grace, and greatness.
As the 2022 Centennial Hall Fellow, Rashaun Mitchell ’96, a dancer, choreographer, educator, and mentor, shared his artistry and life story at Concord Academy this spring. “I’m not
working with narrative; I’m not working with music,” he said at a dance demonstration at CA. “We’re really trying to understand what is happening in the body when we’re dancing and how we can expose the mechanics of the creation.”
Nick Hiebert, 2018–2021 Katherine Carton Hammer ’68 Chair, Presents on Connection, Collaboration, and Community
On May 5, CA English teacher Nick Hiebert shared how he had benefited from holding the Katherine Carton Hammer ’68 Endowed Faculty Chair over the past three years. The support, Hiebert said, gave him time and space “to realize how much I am made, sustained, and inspired by other people.”