Hip-Hop and Breakdance Performance at TYO Center

Havikoro and Identity gave an electric and interactive performance for almost 200 community members at the TYO Center in the Zafer al-Masri Foundation Building in Nablus today. Young Nablus residents were engaged from start to finish, clapping, dancing and at times singing along with the performers.

Earlier in the day, Havikoro, a Houston-based hiphop and breakdance group, held a workshop for Identity, a group of young dancers and rappers from Askar refugee camp in Nablus. Together, the performers worked to improve their craft and talked about the importance of art in building bridge and transcending national boundaries.

Havikoro, based in Houston, Texas, is touring the West Bank and Jerusalem with the support of a Performing Arts Initiative grant from the US Department of State and the US Consulate General in Jerusalem. See their moves here, and keep your eyes on this page for video of the Nablus performance in the coming days. The group brings a positive message to young people around the world through breakdance other forms of hiphop.  They have shared the stage with artists and associations such as Destiny’s Child, Coolio, Black Eyed Peas, and P.O.D.

The universality of music - and hiphop culture specifically - were evident from the first glimpse of their workshop this morning, when it was impossible to separate one group from the other. Many attendees were overheard wondering who was who throughout the performance! Participants also bonded across their language barrier about the need for an Energy Drink after lunch, and enjoyed a Red Bull together before putting finishing touches on the performance. This immediate bond demonstrates the power of public diplomacy, particularly engaging youth, as described by Undersecretary Judith McHale - check out our post about her comments on the subject here. Earlier this month, Ann Stock - Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs - confirmed the Public Diplomacy's section's commitment to such cultural exchanges, citing them as "essential for achieving America's foreign policy objectives and for strengthening America's international leadership."

TYO is grateful to our friends American Voices and the Cultural Section of the US Consulate for facilitating this energizing cultural exchange - we look forward to further cooperation!