Beatboxing and Breakdancing at Temple of Hip Hop’s 18th International Hip Hop Festival

Linnea Mayo ’26

A&E Editor

The 18th annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival was held from Thursday, April 3 to Saturday, April 6, 2024 and as always proved to be a large success. Temple of Hip Hop is student-led and organizes the festival every year along with various community partners, and this year’s theme was “highlighting underrepresented voices.” Since 2006, Temple of Hip Hop has hosted 16 annual festivals, and always brings the culture and connection of the hip hop scene onto campus. The festival traditionally addresses all elements of hip hop including DJing, MCing, beatboxing, breakdancing, graffiti and fashion. Although every year looks different, the festival does this through panel discussions, workshops, graffiti exhibitions, hip hop showcases and concerts, lectures, b-boy and b-girl battles and more. 

Mather Hall became the center of many of the festival’s events, and beginning on Thursday was filled with the Retrospective Gallery that remained up for the weekend. 

Thursday also included Hartford resident Taris Clemons, also known as “PopTart” hosting breakdancing classes to those interested using his experience as an instructor at the Smooth Rhythm Dance Studio in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. 

“I definitely have to thank Poptart for being an amazing community partner, Professor Seth Markle for being our faculty advisor, and everyone else in the Temple of Hip Hop here at Trinity because the event definitely would not have been a success without them,” said Malia Ruggiero ’27, the lead organizer of the event. 

On Friday, April 5 a series of lectures and panels were held throughout the afternoon, including the Dance Your Style Auditions. Simultaneously, Duck Dodgers hosted an intimate Producer Workshop on Beat Making Workshop, where he answered any and all questions while teaching anyone passionate about or interested in learning to make beats. 

Friday’s most prominent event was the “Till Infinity” All Styles & B-Boys/B-Girl Showcase in the Washington ToRom, which was hosted by John Manselle-Young, better known as Tang Sauce, and B-Girl Trinity. DJs included DJ Stealth and DJ SC-One. From 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. The Washington Room was transformed with a stage lighting up its center and the beat dancers performing a mix of sets, dances and breakdancing. 

The dancers, Trinity students and staff, and various community members joined to watch the young talent of the dancers. Dancers not performing could be seen rehearsing the beat around the room, as well as conversing with other dancers and encouraging one another. There were a series of competitions, including 3 vs. 3 Break Dancing and 4 vs. 4 Open Styles. The breakdance judges were Divine, Tiger, and B-Boy ShamGod, and the All-Styles judges were Panda, N=Tegrity, and P-Boogie. These competitions included b-girls and b-boys and dancers from all levels, and showcased hip hop artists from all over to bring their own unique styles and dances to the stage. 

“My favorite part was seeing everyone, performers and spectators alike, enjoying the event. The reason I joined the Temple of hip hop in the first place was because I wanted people to be able to find joy in something I already loved,” said Ruggiero. “I wanted to create a space where everyone felt comfortable expressing themselves without being judged; where they could just let loose and have fun, and I think we accomplished that with this event.”

During these competitions dancers never choose their music, they let the music take over their body and their body becomes the instrument. Throughout the night the host continued to reinforce that hip hop itself as an art form gives people control over their own expression, and was transformative for everyone in the room. During the All Styles Battle the judges explained they are looking for an exchange and a conversation between the dancer and their opponent team. They heavily emphasized teamwork and “using your team,” and the winner of many competitions was whoever portrayed not only skills, but worked effectively with their fellow dancers. The teams of the competition aren’t always self selected, which leads to an additional need to not only dance but work together. 

In the lively atmosphere of the dance floor, motivation and passion was evident among all the dancers, and created an electric ambiance that resonated with everyone present. The excitement and energy remained high all night, and transitioned into Saturday with the Producer Showcase, which included a Panel and Sampling Battle and featured producers Kel-C and Ms.Maldi and the panel hosted by G-Whiz at Austin Art’s Music Rehearsal Hall. Every year Temple of Hip Hop has proven its ability to bridge the gap between Hartford and Trinity and welcomes any and all community members to celebrate the culture of hip hop.

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