New York City
“Each of you has something to offer. Remember that. When you walk down the sidewalk, make much eye contact. Yes. Yes. I’m here.”
Ana, also known as Rokafella, is a multi-faceted Hip-Hop artist who references street and Nuyorican culture as her foundation. She has been active in her community for more than 25 years as a street dancer and advocate, working towards equity. She co-founded Full Circle Productions, generating theater pieces, dance training programs, and events. She is also a singer and poet.
What led you to become a teaching artist?
I was a woman excelling at advanced Breakin’ moves, and was being summoned to speak about its history and empowering aspects at festivals and universities. I taught the Afro-diasporic roots of Hip-Hop; describing the journey of the dance gave students a deeper understanding of their own potential. Each year I learned more about it and its predecessors, and shared it.
It’s based on the resilience of culture despite society’s disposable tendencies. First Nation tribes value and pass down their traditions and practices despite the effects of erasure. Hip-Hop is no different. This urban dance form also rewards personal flair. New generations bring about new inflections that accompany new music, yet every style embodies a similar outcry for love and respect. There are many branches to this tree (business, culture, history, knowledge of self) and many ways to nourish the roots so others can benefit.
Describe a good teaching day:
When a student takes the initiative to teach another student who is having trouble, or a student offers up a creative option for choreography. Both of these situations are serious break-throughs in an atmosphere where many have a hard time feeling motivated or allowed to contribute suggestions or ideas.