This is our scene is a multimedia project driven by dancer/DJ Leo Gayden, reflecting KC’s historiographic practices of creative access to public space through the exploration of street dance and contemporary art’s spatial and network paradigms. It centralizes street dance and street dancers in the bi-state urban areas, including their unique personal histories, cultural geographies, and influential, cutting edge aesthetics of movement, music, and video technology.
There are two parts to this project: a 7-part web-series made available for free on-line, and a mockumentary film co-produced with 31st&Brklyn. This is our scene focuses on the majority minority-participant and leading street dance community in KC – exploring its adaptive methods, challenging its means of validity, and presenting its expansive scope.
U.S.-based street dance is a principle identifier of the signifying cultural processes of Blackness in the U.S in the 21st century. Contemporary art, as an aesthetic discourse, is reflective of networked socio-cultural, educational, and economic actions and the beliefs of the dominant societal programs. These respective positions lead to missed opportunities for emphatic community development, responsive creative growth, and organized support between those who, historically, do with what they have and those who, today, have and do with what they will.
This is our scene sincerely addresses equitable cross-disciplinary communications between street dance and contemporary art, their socialized potentials, and relationships to networks of power. U.S-based street dance(rs) embody masterful improvisatory storytelling and physical discipline, via a unique, urbanized understanding of space, representation, and identity. Innovation in U.S.-based street and club dances often occurs in community spaces that are deemed undesirable and/or neglected, where people marginalized by race, sex, gender, religion, and disposition gather to create. It is within these intersecting threads that aesthetic innovation, community entanglement, and cultural wellbeing are being rewoven.
The 7-part web series explores this territory through a visual remix of aesthetic and spatial relationships. It includes layered animation, personal experiences, and creative geographies of highly-regarded street dance artists and/or crews based in the KS/MO bi-state region. Its goal is to widen community connection and support for the dynamic diversity of street dance and dancers, lives and artistry in KC.
This is our scene mockumentary will be a co-production with 31st&Brklyn, a local contemporary performance and community engagement platform in Kansas City, with a focus on artists of color, and will premiere in May 2018. The focus is a street dancer navigating contemporary art’s socio-politics while making a 7-part web series: hierarchies in art and the body pains of dancing anytime, anywhere.
Leo Gayden moved from Chicago to Kansas City with his parents when he was 12 years old, but it wasn’t until his early 20s that he discovered street dance (breaking, popping, locking) and was amazed by the music and the movement . He dug into it head first, learning everything he could, flew to California to go to a few dance conventions and was hooked. As he got better at dancing he began to transition to DJ’ing, feeling it all went hand and hand. Now Leo is in his late 30’s and sensing another change coming – instead of just dancing on street corners and in battles he wants to help promote local street dancers in growing their work to new levels. He sees them as artists who can tell a story with movement and song, and believes that street dance is the edge that all dance needs. Following his own influences, he wants to show that perspective across many different platforms – including movies, music and even video games and comic books.