S.F. Hip Hop DanceFest goes international

Can you feel the beat? The all-encompassing booty-shaking rhythm is what hip-hop dance is all about. If you’ve never experienced the energy of a packed nightclub dance floor working it out to a relentlessly driving beat, the San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest is quite possibly the next best thing. And, it doesn’t even require breaking a sweat — unless, of course, you want to.

The acclaimed international hip-hop showcase, long heralded as the first of its kind, celebrates its ninth year with another round of top dance talent poppin’ and lockin’, breaking and shaking it this weekend at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

“This has become the highest quality and most diverse lineup of dancers that we’ve ever had,” festival founder Micaya says. “I brought in companies from all over the world, the best of the best from Austria, Vancouver, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York — we’ve got them all here.”

Hip-hop dance is certainly represented on a global scale at this year’s festival, which features 22 companies from the Bay Area and beyond. While there are local favorites such as Loose Change — the San Francisco-based group is known for its fusion of hip-hop with tap, lindy hop and martial arts — there’s also the highly anticipated U.S. debut of Nobulus, a breakdance crew and urban dance theater company from Austria.

“This is what I’ve always wanted,” Micaya says. “I’ve always wanted to showcase that hip hop dance is not only in the Bay, but everywhere else. It’s so interesting to see how different and distinct each company is. In the Bay Area alone, things can change from neighborhood to

neighborhood.”

Founded in 1999 by Micaya, a dancer, choreographer and director of the company SoulForce, the San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest has evolved into more than just a high-quality, international talent show, but also an all-out party. Known for its boisterous audience — folks certainly don’t sit quietly with hands folded waiting until the end to applaud — the vibe of the three-day festival is a lively one with plenty of shout-outs and the occasional freestyle free-for-all in the lobby.

“You’ll get hooked, seriously,” Micaya says. “There aren’t those boundaries that are present at other performances. You’ll want to stand up and scream and show your appreciation for what you’re seeing. Hip-hop dance comesfrom a passionate place, and it’s OK to be passionate about it and have a good time with it.”

IF YOU GO

San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest

Where: Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 16-17; 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 18

Tickets: $35

Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com

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