With artists like Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent, Cyndi Lauper and Tony Bennett all from here, it is no secret that Queens is a producer of talented artists. On Sunday at the Jamaica Performance Center on Jamaica Avenue, the youth at the Hip-Hop 4 Health fundraiser show proved no different.
“I cannot believe all of the talented young men and women that are here tonight,” Assemblywoman Nilly Rozic (D-Hillcrest) said to a booming crowd of a couple hundred. “I am so glad to see that the children of our borough and our city have already done so much with their art form and I hope they continue to do so as they get older. Can’t stop, won’t stop.”
The fundraiser was a hodgepodge of things: part show, part workshop, part banquet, but that didn’t stop attendees from having a ball watching their kids cut a rug on the dance floor.
The event was sponsored by famed choreographer and Jamaica native Brice D. Vick who recently founded Hip-Hop 4 Health Plus, a DVD dance program to get kids fit.
“This has been an important project for me but I couldn’t have done it without these kids,” he said. “They have worked hard to promote a healthy lifestyle and hopefully this DVD will reach kids all over the country and teach them a healthy way of living.”
A sneak-peek of one of the DVD’s dance numbers was played for the audience before the show.
The song played, “Numbers Parade,” teaches simple math to a dancey beat with the HH4H+ shaking it up and encouraging everyone to join them.
In addition to celebrating the DVD, a dance competition was held for kids ages 5 to 12 of all skill levels.
The children were judged based on technique, stage presence and difficulty.
Though every kid “brought it,” Mikayla was the big winner, wowing the judges with her sharp locking and originality. As the grand-prize winner, the pre-teen will receive a six-month contract with a children’s talent agency.
In addition, choreographers who have committed to give children the opportunity to hone their craft while staying out of trouble were honored for their work.
One of the more memorable routines was the one choreographed by Kerri Edge of the Edge School of the Arts. Her southern church-inspired dance entitled "His Eye on the Sparrow" was performed by a dozen girls in beautiful yellow dresses and brimmed church hats. The girls flipped, spun and even danced with tambourines.
Another choreographer, Lamont Smith, was honored for his work in the community.
“I have always wanted to create,” Smith said. “I don’t usually talk too much but the fact that I get to work with these dancers is really what it’s all about. This award is just the icing on the cake. It’s also my birthday so it’s even better.”
Heartthrob Kevin “K.J.” Leak gave a soulful rendition of a Trey Songz number, bringing the crowd to its feet.
In all, the benefit raised approximately $8,000 which will go towards DVD circulation for the HH4H+ program.