#Hiplomacy: Break Dancers Break Barriers

Fun fact: Hip hop is now officially a US diplomacy tool.

What does that mean?

Basically, the US government has chosen hip hop as one way to forge a bond between Iraq and the United States. This October, a troupe of Iraqi break dancers--First Step Iraq--traveled to the US to perform in the first-ever, US government-sponsored hip hop diplomacy, or "hiplomacy," tour. This group of talented young hip hoppers traveled to several major cities--including New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Detroit--to show off their sick moves.

First Step Iraq (courtesy First Step Iraq)

The six dancers selected for the tour have trained hard at the only Iraqi dance academy, YES Academy, which is sponsored by American Voices and led by American executive director John Ferguson.  They then had to make it through an audition process in order to join First Step Iraq. This tour marked the dancers' first trip to the US and their first time performing a full-length hip-hop show.

Unfortunately, the tour finished up last week in Boston, but you can watch this video to learn more about hiplomacy and to get a sneak peek at these very talented young breakers:

Dance News
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:

Read Darriel's profile here

Read Diego's profile here

Read Emma's profile here

And then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Madison Jordan and Jarrod Tyler Paulson brought their real-life romance to the audition stage. (Adam Rose/FOX)

It's usually right around the third or fourth week of "So You Think You Can Dance" audition rounds that we start itching for the live shows. Sure, the auditions are fun, inspiring, and entertaining, but at a certain point, we reach audition saturation. (And the live shows are just so good and feature so much more Cat Deeley.)

All that said, Nigel and co. kept things spicy this week, so our attention remained firmly glued to the screen. (It's been 16 seasons—who are we to doubt Nigel Lythgoe, sir?) Here's how it all went down.

Keep Reading Show less
Dance on TV
Photo by Erin Baiano

When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.

Keep Reading Show less
Fitness

Video

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Giveaways