Wild style: Sol Power festival to mix art forms, celebrate hip-hop culture
In an unlikely union, this year’s Sol Power hip-hop festival at Arizona State University will join forces with the ASU Symphony Orchestra for one of its featured events.
The free, five-day community event features DJs, emcees, live music, graffiti artists and dancers, and it culminates Saturday, Nov. 20, with the main event — a daylong celebration of the Phoenix area's hip-hop community with a focus on 3-on-3 battles and a choreography battle. This year, the main event also includes a collaboration with the ASU Symphony Orchestra.
During performances on the evening of Nov. 20, internationally renowned graffiti artists Lalo Cota and Thomas “Breeze” Marcus will create art in real time outside on the Nelson Fine Arts Plaza while the ASU Symphony Orchestra premieres Carlos Simon’s “Graffiti” for a live audience in ASU Gammage. Simon is currently composer-in-residence at the Kennedy Center and the 2021 winner of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. The performances will be livestreamed to each location, so the ASU Symphony audience will be viewing the graffiti artists working in real time while those gathered at Galvin Plaza will be able to hear and see the symphony performance.
“What is powerful is that we are sharing the stage and finding common ground in our different disciplines, cultures and art forms,” said Jeffery Meyer, director of orchestras for the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “I hope both experiences will be enriched through the collaboration.”
The popular hip-hop festival offers free performances, exhibitions and competitions. According to the Sol Power AZ website, “Sol Power is an empowering opportunity to celebrate the culture and creative intelligence within communities of color.”
Originally founded by Richard Mook and Melissa Britt with the name Urban Sol, the event was held outdoors in Phoenix. Bringing it to ASU created more student and faculty involvement. This year the festival is directed by ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre assistant professors Jorge “House” Magana and LaTasha Barnes, who both teach ASU’s trailblazing hip-hop dance curriculum.
“We have a two-fold mission,” Magana said. “We want to expose our students to this culture and connect them to the things they’re learning in their classroom, and we want to introduce the outside community to ASU’s campus.”
The community can participate in activities all week, leading up to the main event. On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Samuel Peña, community engagement coordinator for the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, hosts “Tunes at Noon” on the Nelson Fine Arts Plaza. On Wednesday afternoon, there will be a collaboration with the Labriola Center at Hayden Library featuring Indigenous DJs and dancers, including artists Tomahawk Bang (Onk Akimel O’odham), Randy B. (Diné) and DJ Reflekshin (Diné).
Friday evening will be the dedication of Nelson Fine Arts Center Room 28 as the Marcus White Dance Studio, in honor of the important role White played at ASU as a faculty member in the dance program who dedicated his career to working in the legacy of the Black Radical Tradition. White died unexpectedly in May 2020. The evening will also honor dance student and friend Armani Moten, who passed away in December 2019.
Tuesday, Nov. 16
Tunes at Noon
Nelson Fine Arts Plaza
Bring your lunch, bring your friends and join us in the plaza outside the Nelson Fine Arts Center for an afternoon of music and dancing.
Wednesday, Nov. 17
Native American Heritage Month Labriola Pre-Jam
11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Hayden Library West Patio
In partnership with ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Phoenix hip-hop community, the Sol Power project and Labriola Center will be hosting a dance cypher at the Hayden Library featuring Indigenous DJs, dancers and artists Tomahawk Bang (Onk Akimel O’odham), Randy B. (Diné) and DJ Reflekshin (Diné). This intersectional event seeks to creatively engage the ASU community on the transformative power of hip-hop culture and uplift modern Indigenous forms of expression.
Friday, Nov. 19
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre, Bulldog Hall
Join us for a casual morning meet-and-greet where you can get to know Sol Power guest artist "Ivan the Urban Action Figure" through discussion and community interaction.
Marcus White Dance Studio Dedication
Nelson Fine Arts Center, Room 28
The School of Music, Dance and Theatre is rededicating Nelson Fine Arts Center Room 28 as the Marcus White Dance Studio. The dedication will provide an opportunity to reflect on White's role at ASU as a faculty member in the dance program who dedicated his career to working in the legacy of the Black Radical Tradition and speaking truth to power. Please join us as we reflect on his role as movement maker, mentor, activist, artist and scholar as well as honor friend and student Armani Moten, who died in 2019. We are grateful for the generous donations that helped make this possible. For information on contributing to the Marcus White Dance Studio fund, visit musicdancetheatre.asu.edu/giving/marcus-white.
Saturday, Nov. 20
Sol Power main event
Nelson Fine Arts Plaza
Hosted by ASU’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre, this free community event features DJs, emcees, graffiti artists, dancers and musicians. The day includes 3-on-3 dance battles that are open to both students and the community, as well as a choreography battle where everyone gets a chance to share and show off their skills.
“Graffiti” with ASU Symphony Orchestra
As part of this year’s celebration, the ASU Symphony will premiere Carlos Simon’s “Graffiti,” performed with art created in real time by internationally renowned graffiti artists. The ASU Symphony performance will take place at ASU Gammage while graffiti artists create in Nelson Fine Arts Plaza. Each event will be livestreamed at the other location. The ASU Symphony performance is one part of a concert at Gammage that begins with the premiere of “FraKture,” a new work by ASU composer and Professor Garth Paine, which includes sounds amplified by the audience’s own cellphones as part of the orchestral landscape. The concert will also feature pianist John Solar, winner of the 2020 ASU Concerto Competition, performing Ravel’s American jazz club-inspired “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” and will conclude with Arturo Marquez’s exuberant “Danzon No. 2.” Tickets for this event must be purchased in advance through the ASU Gammage box office.
Please note: All events are open to the public. Attendees are required to agree to adhere to ASU policies. At this time, consistent with CDC guidelines for colleges and universities, face coverings are required in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre indoor performance spaces and strongly encouraged in our outdoor spaces when physical distancing is not possible. We ask that you monitor for cold/flu/COVID-19-like symptoms and stay home if you are unwell. Our safety policy permits performers to remove face coverings for performance as they are frequently testing and monitoring their health.