15th Annual Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival
An OMAI tradition
OMAI’s Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival consists of performances, lectures, and discussions by First Wave students and invited professional artists engaging with the Madison community, on and off campus. Inaugurated through OMAI’s sponsored Marc Bamuthi Joseph Arts Institute Residency in the spring of 2007, the Line Breaks project culminated in a final performance of student work called “Just Bust!” – an event, which has evolved into our monthly open mic, now running for 15 years.
Hip Hop where it belongs
Line Breaks Festival brings the top new aesthetics in contemporary hip hop and interdisciplinary performance art to the UW-Madison campus and the surrounding community. It has evolved into a space for the investigation of contemporary American culture through the lens of hip-hop performance. Line Breaks is now one of the largest Hip Hop-centered performance festivals in the Midwest and continues to be a space for the cultivation and presentation of independent and collaborative work by First Wave artist-scholars. Here, unique responses to common human experiences are explored. The narratives, myths and legends, specific to these diverse communities, are unearthed, distilled and presented in an environment that encourages discussion, and continued investigation.
Fri, April 1, 2022
2:00 – 4:00 PM UW-Madison Arts Crawl in partnership with the Division of the Arts
Arts Crawl highlights a collection of arts events held over several days in the arts departments and co-curricular arts units at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Arts Crawl is an opportunity to have creative arts experiences, which may take the form of demonstrations and workshops, as well as the chance to visit arts classes, lectures, talks, performances, exhibitions, and rehearsals. The Arts Crawl will run from Thursday, March 31 – Saturday, April 2, culminating in performances at the Line Breaks Festival.
Details available at go.wisc.edu/ArtsCrawl
5:00 – 7:00 PM Line Breaks Opening Reception in the Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center
In partnership with the Wisconsin Alumni Association, the Line Breaks Opening Reception will feature refreshments, light catering, bar, and sounds by DJ Pain 1! Throughout the space, we will install an exhibition of First Wave visual and design artists to present and discuss their work with guests.
The programme for the reception will take place 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., where we will host WAA’s Wisconsin Idea Spotlight Panel, featuring key First Wave alumni Danez Smith and Erika Dickerson-Despenza; Professor Chris Walker, founding Faculty Artistic Director of OMAI and Director of the Division of the Arts; and Dr. LaVar Charleston, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer at UW-Madison.
7:00 – 9:00 PM Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival Showcase in the Playhouse Theater, Overture Center
This evening showcase will include performances by First Wave 14th Cohort Ensemble, FW 12th Cohort member Jackson Neal’s Glitch, First Wave Touring Ensemble, and conclude with a debut staging of summer, somewhere by First Wave alum Danez Smith, featuring a small ensemble of First Wave scholars directed by Professor Chris Walker.
Sat, April 2, 2022
2:00 – 4:00 PM Badger Meet Up: Line Breaks Edition
In partnership with the Wisconsin Alumni Association, UW alumni from Classes 2007 – 2017 with an interest in multicultural arts are invited for a brunch mixer with refreshments, music and performances honoring the 15th Anniversary of UW-Madison’s Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives.
6:00 – 8:00 PM Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival Showcase in the Playhouse Theater, Overture Center
This evening showcase will include performances by First Wave 14th Cohort Ensemble, 12th Cohort member Dawry Ruiz’s Speakeasy, and the JVN Project’s Fashion Show. Featuring special performances by musical trio Klassik, B~Free, and Quinten Farr.
Line Breaks performances
First Wave 14th Cohort Ensemble
The first-year of the First Wave curriculum includes a course instructed by Professor Chris Walker where the newest cohort in the First Wave community engage in Walker’s First Wave Process. Dance 259: Collaborative Arts Performance Lab is a unique course designed to further engage students in creative problem solving and devising performance processes. Students work together under facilitation to create work and produce performances of hip hop theater, experimental theater and other collaborative performance art works for public viewing. The course content is repeatable and the work is developed in stages in each workshop. Students are introduced to the three pillars of the First Wave Program – Arts, Activism and Academics and how they interact with and within multiple contemporary art processes. They work together in a creative workshop space to practice, collaborate and engage in creative research processes using the elements of Hip Hop and the creative problem solving tools that shape them as points of engagement and departure. The FW 14th Cohort will present their collaborative work both evenings of the Line Breaks Festival and participate in a talk back with the audience.
First Wave Touring Ensemble
The First Wave Touring Ensemble, consisting of Jackson Neal, Sarah Abbas, Azura Mizan Tyabji , and Zachary Lesmeister, fuses music, poetry, and movement to put forth new work exemplary of the First Wave collaborative experience.
Selected Line Breaks Proposals by First Wave Scholars, Creative Direction by Karl Iglesias
- Glitch by Jackson Neal (FW 12th Cohort), is a multimedia performing arts piece that examines the enormous pleasure of the internet and its sinister underbelly, inviting audiences to pause and consider how their own choices, when closely examined, might not be their own.
- Speakeasy by Dawry Ruiz (FW 12th Cohort) combines the aspects of a concert and Hip-Hop theatre to confront and explore survivors’ guilt and how our lead musician can escape the consequences that his childhood friends could not.
- True to the Root, produced by Corina Robinson (FW 12th cohort) for the JVN Project is a sustainable hip hop fashion show. We believe fashion is an important way to showcase hip hop; the clothes we wear reflect the culture we walk in on the daily. Hip hop is a culture that builds off itself and the people in it, we feel that emphasizing sustainable fashion (upcycling, rewearing, etc.) reflects this as well. True to the Root will be a multimedia fashion show highlighting pieces that embody the 5 elements of hip hop (breaking, DJing, MCing, graffiti, and knowledge). Other media will include a DJ, spoken word poetry, and more.
This is a section from a long poem taking place in an imagined afterlife for black men shot by the police, where, as the narrator says, “dead is the safest i’ve ever been.” Danez Smith is a slam-poetry champion as well as a recipient of several more traditional literary awards; the poetry in “Don’t Call Us Dead” reflects the strengths of each of those worlds.
– Matthew Zapruder, New York Times, June 9, 2017
In a semester-long residency with OMAI this Spring 2022, Danez Smith and Professor Chris Walker workshopped a staging of Smith’s choreopoem summer, somewhere from the book don’t call us dead for a cast of all Black masculine presenting bodies. The residency invited current First Wave scholars to create a new work in partnership with Smith and professional artists from Walker’s company, a core educational experience of the Line Breaks Festival.
Please stay after the performance for a talk-back with the artists.
The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives within the Division of Diversity, Equity, & Educational Achievement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison provides culturally relevant and transformative arts programming to promote positive social dialogue and to give cultural art forms an academic forum.
The Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival seeks to bring together communities on and off campus, locally and nationally, to embrace the values and guiding principles of OMAI/First Wave. In the 15th anniversary year of OMAI, the 16th annual Line Breaks Festival will be a homecoming for UW alumni involved in multicultural arts over the last 15 years and beyond. This gathering would not be possible without the generous support of our presenting partners:
- Overture Center for the Arts
- Wisconsin Alumni Association
- Division of Arts, UW-Madison
- The JVN Project
COVID-19 Event Policies
Please note that masks will be required at all indoor Line Breaks events on and off the UW-Madison campus, while vaccines and booster shots are highly encouraged. Details about UW-Madison event policies can be found at covidresponse.wisc.edu.
Additionally, to offer the safest environment possible for our patrons, artists, employees, volunteers and community, the Overture Center has implemented the following requirements for everyone who enters the building, whether visiting the ticket office and galleries or attending a show, meeting or event.
Overture Center requires proof of vaccination, including (as of March 1, 2022) a booster if eligible* along with photo ID for all who enter the building. Overture allows a one-month grace period for patrons to schedule and receive the booster and get up to date on vaccinations once eligible. Those who are not up to date with a booster or are unable to be vaccinated may show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to entry or a negative antigen test administered by a health care or pharmacy provider taken within 24 hours of entry, along with photo ID. An at-home antigen test administered by a virtual proctor with a time and date stamped result within 24 hours will also be accepted, along with photo ID. In addition, Overture Center requires a facial mask be worn by all who enter the building and at all public performances and events.
This policy will be re-evaluated mid-March, and patrons will be informed of any changes at that time. For additional information, please visit overture.org/health.
Past Line Break Festivals
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Line Breaks - First Wave and Guest Performers 2021
The First Wave 13th cohort presents: Only Human
Line Breaks - First Wave and Guest Performers 2019
First Wave Flash Talks
- Emeka: Art Creates Art Creates, Tiffany Ike
- Research & Documentary Film: A Case for Muhammad Ali’s Influence on Hip Hop, Mackenzie Berry
- Research in Practice: A Case for Addressing Mass Incarceration through the Arts, Mackenzie Berry
- In the Peak of Summer, Francisco Velazquez
- Providing an Accessible Art Education, Masha Vodyanyk
- Black Arts Matter, Shasparay Lighteard
Visual Arts Showcase featuring Nikolai Hagen, Joi Brenson, Isha Camara, Auzzie Dodson,
Janaé Hu, Masha Vodyanyk, and Adjua Nsoroma
First Wave Poetry Showcase featuring Natasha Oladokun, Isha Camara, and Mackenzie Berry
UpRise Poetry Collective
Thiahera Nurse Writing Workshop
James D. Gavins Movement Workshop
Feast of Flowers, Jamie Dawson
DAL: Stories of Black Motherhood, Tiffany Ike
Citizen X, Ricardo Cortez de la Cruz II
Cicada, James D. Gavins
Fifth Year: A Collaboration, Nia Scott
The Help, Jasmine Kiah
Return Home to Us, Solomon Roller
Unlearning God, Tiffany Ike
Love U(s) First, Dequadray White
First Wave Music Showcase
Line Breaks - First Wave and Guest Performers 2018
When I was a kid, Kenneth Dizon
Diary of a Shapeshifter, Mariam Coker
First Wave Music Showcase, Obasi Davis, Hiwot Adilow, Dequadray White, Tehan Ketema, Chetta Hill, First Wave cypher
Louisville Lip: MC Muhammad Ali, Mackenzie Berry
Line Breaks - First Wave and Guest Performers 2017
Tearing Down the Walls, First Wave Touring Ensemble (2017)
First Wave Poetry Sharing (2017)
First Wave 10th Cohort
Dancing Towards Change, Featured Local Dance Artists
Music Workshop, led by Nathan France, Daniel Kaplan & Eric Newble
Love Has No Season, Featured Artist, Rain Wilson
Music Workshop, led by Nathan France, Daniel Kaplan & Eric Newble Garrett Pauli
2017 LINE BREAKS FESTIVAL PERFORMERS
Line Breaks - First Wave and Guest Performers 2016
Line Breaks - Guest Performers (2005 - 2015)
Jessica Care-Moore (2005): Internationally renowned poet, publisher, activist, rock star, playwright, actress, educator, thespian, filmmaker, performance artist, producer, five-time Showtime at the Apollo winner, and CEO of Moore Black Press.
Kalamu ya Salaam (2005): Poet, author, filmmaker, and teacher.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph (2005, 2007, 2008, 2010): Spoken-word poet, dancer, and playwright who frequently directs stand alone hip-hop theater plays.
Jeff Chang (2007): Author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop and Who We Be: The Colonization of America, co-founder of Culturestr/ke magazine and Coloredlines daily news site, and Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.
Dr. Rennie Harris (2007, 2008, 2014): Artistic Director, Choreographer and Director.
Sambada (2007): Brazilian band.
Alix Olson (2007): American poet and Spoken Word artist.
Kamilah Forbes (2007, 2009): Assistant Director and Artistic Director.
Danny Hoch (2007): American writer, director, and performance artist.
Dennis Kim (2007, 2008): Hip-Hop and Spoken Word artist from Chicago, and a co-founder of I Was Born With Two Tongues, an Asian American spoken word quartet, and Typical Cats, a Chicago-based hip hop collective. He is a teaching artist at Youth Speaks, Inc.
Mayda Del Valle (2007): Poet, performer, teaching artist.
Lauren Whitehead (2007): Spoken Word artist.
Rafael Casal (2007, 2009, 2011): American writer, performance poet, recording artist, educator, playwright and founding member of The Getback.
Dahlak Brathwaite (2007): musician, actor, poet, and educator
Omar Sosa (2007): composer, bandleader, and jazz pianist.
Roger Bonair-Agard (2007): Poet and Performance artist.
Willie Perdomo (2007): Poet, children’s book author, Artist-in-Residence, Workspace, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. He is co-founder/publisher of Cypher Books.
Gambian Griot Alhaji Papa Susso (2007): Griot or jeli, master kora player, and director of the Koriya Musa Center for Research in Oral Tradition.
Staceyann Chin (2008): Spoken-word poet, performing artist and LGBT rights political activist.
Rokafella & Kwikstep (2008): Hip-Hop dancers, Artistic directors of Full Circle Productions, a Hip-Hop dance theater company.
Josh Healey (2008): Award-winning writer, performer, and creative activist.
Kevin Coval (2008): Poet, playwright, educator, organizer, Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors.
Patricia Smith (2008): Poet, spoken-word performer, playwright, author, writing teacher, and former journalist.
Wale (2009): American rapper.
Colin Munroe (2009): Canadian singer-songwriter.
First Wave Music Ensemble (2009): Student performers.
Amir Sulaiman (2009): Poet, recording artist, activist and newly appointed Harvard Fellow.
K Swift (2009): American DJ, MC, radio personality and entreprenuer.
Lemon Andersen (2009): American poet, spoken word artist and actor.
Beau Sia (2009): American Slam poet.
Christopher Walker (2009): UW-Madison assistant professor of Dance and First Wave Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble artistic director.
Janelle Monae (2010): Grammy nominated American singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer signed to Bad Boy Records, Wondaland Art Society, and Atlantic Records.
Colman Domingo (2010): Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, and Drama League Award nominated and OBIE, Lucille Lortel, GLAAD Award winning film, stage, and television actor, playwright, and director.
Stew & Heidi (2010): A four-time Tony nominee, Stew leads, along with his collaborator Heidi Rodewald, two critically acclaimed bands: The Negro Problem and Stew. Works: Post Minstrel Syndrome (TNP 1997), Joys and Concerns (TNP 1999), Guest Host (S 2000), The Naked Dutch Painter (S 2002), Welcome Black (TNP 2002), Something Deeper Than These Changes (S 2003) and the cast album of Passing Strange (2008).
Queen GodIs (2012): International Poet, MC, Artistic Director and Performance Art Therapist whose work serves a host of communities seeking transformation through art.
Hapasan (2012): multiracial Japanese American capoeirista and house dancer based in the Bay Area.
Chanel Matsunami Govreau (2012): Performance storyteller, printmaker and costume designer.
Paul Oakley Stovall (2012): Playwright.
Brad Simmons (2012): Musical director.
GIRLilla Tactics (2013): Devan Rode, Macca, Peipei Yuan – Bgirl workshops
Dawn Crandel (2013): Performing Xenophobadelica. Dawn is a dancer, choreographer, theatre artist, poet, grassroots cultural activist and educator.
Michael Sakamoto (2014): Interdisciplinary artist active in dance, theatre, performance, photography, and media.
Jamila Woods (2015): Poet and vocalist.
Line Breaks - First Wave Performers (2008 - 2015)
First Wave 1st Cohort Ensemble (2008): Performing The Wheatley Prompt, Chisel me Man, On Loving and Learning, Puppets, I am Woman, Hear us Roar, Casualties – Casualties, The Sound Of, Yusef, Immigrante, Goodbye.
Alida Cardos-Whaley (2008): Performing Underground Rail Hop Revolution.
First Wave 2nd Cohort Ensemble (2009): Performing Boomboxed.
Ben Young (2009): Performing The Void.
Karl Iglesias (2009): Performing If a Tree Falls.
Gabriel De Los Reyes (2009): Performing Formal Introduction.
First Wave 3rd Cohort Ensemble (2010): Performing The Issue.
Danez Smith (2010): Performing The Problem With Sundays.
Camea Osborn (2010): Performing Langely Street.
Jessica Diaz-Hurtado (2010): Performing El Viejo Detras Del Escritorio or The Old Man Behind the Desk.
2nd Cohort Works (2010): Asia Elliot, Gabriel De Los Reyes & Angela Thompson – Performing Built into the Walls // Rebekah Blocker, Leslie Thomas, Camea Osborn, Dianna Harris & Asia Elliot – Performing Get a Room // Michael Sherer, Ben Young, Krystal Gartley, Rebekah Blocker, Andrew Thomas, & James Gavins – Performing Home is Where
First Wave 4th Cohort Ensemble (2011): Performing Control Alt Delete.
First Wave 1st Cohort Ensemble Show (2011): Performing Dog Years: A Wisconsin Experience
Danez Smith (2011): Performing For Those Who Pray in Closets.
Jasmine Mans (2011): Performing Bloody Mary
Asia Elliot (2011): Performing Working Class
Gayle Smaller (2011): Performing In Other News
William Giles (2011): Performing Still Born
Kelsey Van Ert (2011): Performing Birdies
Cydney Edwards (2011): Performing Get a Room
First Wave Music Ensemble (2011): Boomboxed – The Remix.
First Wave 5th Cohort Ensemble (2012): Performing Common Denominator
Shameaca Moore & Myriha Burton (2012): Performing Duo Show – Failing with an A
Ashley Street (2012): Performing The Silent Streets are Burning
Nakila Robinson (2012): Performing Little Big Woman
First Wave 2013 Touring Ensemble: Performing Shock
Dominic Nicholas & Jill Fukumoto (2012): Performing Duo Show – Forget It
First Wave 6th Cohort Ensemble (2013): Performing Welcome Mat at Capacity.
Dakota Alcantara-Camacho (2013): Performing Buried Beneath Bombs and Lattes
Asia Elliot (2013): Performing Working Class
Nakila Robinson (2013): Performing Little Big Woman
Natalie Cook (2013): Performing Some May Think Light isn’t Heavy
Gethsemane Herron-Coward (2013): Performing Witness
First Wave 2013 Touring Ensemble: Performing Kingdom Bequeath
Dominique Ricks (2013): Performing Cross-Walk
Richard Jones Jr. & Rebekah Blocker (2013) Performing duo show PPK: Parenting Preachers’ Kids
Erika Dickerson (2013): Performing Cult of Blk Bodies
Marlon Eric Lima (2013): Performing Don’t Just Stand There
Niko Tumamak (2013): Performing The S**t We Go Through
First Wave 7th Cohort Ensemble (2014): Performing Fire Under the Skin
Erika Dickerson (2014): Performing Cult of Blk Bodies
Elton Ferdinand III (2014): Performing Flounder
The Bellhops (2014): Performing Honey in my Tea
T Banks (2014): Ensemble Performing Loud and Unchained
Nakila Robinson & Ashley Street (2014): Performing Duo Show – The Miseducation of Mil Chet
First Wave 8th Cohort (2015): Performing Staying Hungry.
Hiwot Adilow (2015): mine.
Melana Bass (2015): What does In/Justice Look Like
Jill Fukomoto (2015): Liminal Creatures.
LaLa Bolander (2015): SPILL.
Zhalarina Sanders (2015): Rose Gold.
Natalie Cook (2015): Manikin.
Garrett Pauli (2015): Skeletons of Silence.
Ajanae Dawkins (2015): Atlantic.
John Paul Alejandro (2015): In the Belly of the Iron Beast.
T Banks (2015): Loud and Unchained – Spiritual.
Kelsey Pyro (2015): Break the Cycle.
Joseph Verge (2015): Labels.
FXFW: First by First Wave (2015): Featuring CRASHprez, Lord of the Fly, Broadway, Amy Alida, Sean Avery , with Special Performance of Joseph Verge’s “Labels”
Rich Robbins (2015): Opening for Jamilia Woods