Utah produces some of the most dynamic and talented dancers across the globe. It probably has something to do with culture and how we value the art of dance, since even the days of UVSC.
The dance programs here at UVU have only expanded. It began with a few ballet classes, then ballroom and modern dance were also offered. It wasn’t until Fall 2012 that hip hop dance was finally added to the mix.
Ashley Kimsey founded UVU’s first hip hop team called mos.A.I.C. They are now about to celebrate their fifth anniversary and upcoming season. Auditions were held Aug. 23, 2016 and the number of dancers to apply has raised significantly. Ashley has danced her whole life, but the company that really helped inspire her was when she was a part of Capital Funk, a competitive hip hop team at George Washington University. Ashley’s time there influenced her aspirations back to UVU where she created a team to have a strong sense of community. There is a definite “family feel” like being at home with the other dancers.
The desire for community is one of the oldest elements of hip hop which contributes to how the dance is timeless. The roots of the genre ground into the past, while it simultaneously stems into the present. The relationship between old and new is essential to the form. Even though mos.A.I.C. stands as contemporary artists, they also incorporate prior eras by using old basics along with new moves.
When asked about a preferred style of choreography, Ashley knows the key to being a strong dancer which is the skill of being chameleon. “Although we’re still working on our identity as a team, we’re still pretty new, we really strive to adapt.” Versatility is important when building towards an individual style. Although Ashley can’t say that it’s just one style alone which speaks to her the most, if she had to pick she says that she will “forever love the style of groove.” As the Director, she makes sure to inform the dancers about the history of House which came from Chicago from mid-70s to early 80s. The team also practices the “locking” style and discuss the early techniques of Don Campbell. In the Utah dance scene, Ashley is known for contribution to the “waaking” style which is tied back to the Los Angeles clubs of the disco era.
In D.C. as a member of Capital Funk, her experience in regards to recognition of the company was different. Plus, the campus culture seemed to be all about the funk. One example Ashley gave was how whenever she’d wear her team shirt, even off campus, people would often go up to her with, “hey your show last night was amazing!”
At UVU, mos.A.I.C. has performed at several school events, but look forward to the future of much more involvement and representation for the University. Ashley is hopeful that UVU’s hip hop team will grow as they are able to perform more. Their upcoming show for Spring 2017 will be held March 15-16 in the Ragan Theater with an even larger expected audience.
What makes hip hop especially artistic to Ashley Kimsey is that, “You are able to release through self-expression in ways that you may not be able to with other forms.” All dance is meant to express, but hip hop dance is conglomeration of communication. The dancers of the UVU hip hop team mos.A.I.C. open their arms to the visceral conversations and cultural ranges of movement.