From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up: A Celebration of Hip Hop Culture

From the Ground Up: A Celebration of Hip Hop Culture was a vision developed by Ordway’s Artistic Director of Programming, Dayna Martinez. Co-curated by 2018 Sally Award winner and Maia Maiden Productions Curator and Director, Maia Maiden, this extravaganza pulled together artists and experiences from a variety of mediums, and included several performances, workshops, panel discussions, and more that culminated in 4,519 touch points with community members in 16 unique events in and around the community. Artists and experts from both the local and national scenes were featured at events that were intergenerational and welcoming. This truly was a celebration of Hip Hop and Black culture, right here in Saint Paul!


ROOTED: Special Edition featuring Tish Jones, Carnage the Executioner, and Desdamona

ROOTED: Special Edition

Featured Tish Jones, Carnage the Executioner, and Desdamona

This celebration of the foundations of Hip Hop, created and curated by Maia Maiden, exhibited the skills and techniques of the finest choreographers in the Twin Cities. ROOTED: Special Edition, an extension of the award-winning ROOTED: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening, is a high-energy performance where audience members shared space with Minnesota’s diverse Hip Hop community.

ROOTED: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening is a celebration of the foundations of Hip Hop—the first and only choreographers’ evening focused exclusively on dance under the Hip Hop umbrella and its roots. Like kinesthetic technicians, the finest Hip Hop artists in Minnesota illuminated the stage, featuring old-school favorites, up-and-coming talent, and women. ROOTED, the only show of its kind embracing the history of Hip Hop culture, has sold out every year since its debut in 2009. #DoItForHipHop

More about the artists


Caravan: A Revolution on the RoadCaravan: A Revolution on the Road

Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective have collaborated with choreographer Rennie Harris’ company, Puremovement, and sculptor/projection mapping artist Andrew Scott to create a new work. Caravan: A Revolution on the Road is an expansion on themes explored on the first E-Collective recording and tour. These artists created a multi-disciplinary performance that transcends racial and social boundaries, and breathed new artistic life into conversations on personal and collective identity in relation to social and political structures. Following the release of Breathless, an elegy for Eric Garner, Blanchard expressed that “we’ve been having dialogues for far too long with no actions, no change.” The forceful, yet inclusive energy of this new project encourages the audience to make yet another step toward positive social change.

Blanchard’s fusion of jazz, R&B, blues, funk, and soul synergistically interwove with Harris’s approach to movement, which represents a kind of archaeology of the human spirit through vernacular African American dance styles. Scott’s conceptually-based visual projections and installations, which are rooted in African and African American art and culture, seamlessly integrated into the overall artistic narrative. The skeleton of the work examined these larger societal issues, while the individual nuances of the stories reflected the life experiences of each artist and their thoughts and feelings about black lives in the 21st century.


School Performances of Caravan: A Revolution on the Road

During two Caravan performances 2,658 educators and youth in grades 4-12 experienced the multi-media collaboration between Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard, renowned choreographer Rennie Harris, and Dallas-based visual artist Andrew Scott, Caravan as they examined black lives in the 21st-century through Blanchard’s fusion of jazz, R&B, blues, funk, and soul, interwoven with Harris’ African American dance styles, and Scott’s visual projections and installations. 


Study Guide

If you’re interested in learning more about this performance, including the artist, the art form, the instruments, and more resources, download our free PDF study guide:


Exchange with International Hip Hop Artists

Photo retrieved from Dar America Casablanca

Eleven Hip Hop artists from Morocco, Belgium, France, and Spain met with American community leaders as they travel to three U.S. cities, including the Twin Cities. During their trip they stopped by the Ordway on Sept 23 to discuss technology and innovation that contributes to producing performances with staff and Maia Maiden, Curator & Director of Maia Maiden Productions. This opportunity was made possible through a partnership with Global Minnesota. This trip is part of the CYPHER program (Communities and Youth for Promoting Hip Hop, Empowerment, and Resiliency,) a special IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) for Hip Hop leaders on either side of the Mediterranean.

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Hip Hop Spokenword Workshop with DJ Digie

Hip Hop Spoken word workshop with DJ Digie

A group of homeschool youth explored ways to use hip hop to express themselves with DJ Digie at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul on Oct 16. He showed participants how to turn their thoughts and feelings into spoken word poetry or rap song. Flow, syllables, and line structure were also a part of the lesson and by the end, each child wrote their own rap or song.

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Hip Hop Brunch with Soul Bowl

More than 300 people attended a Hip Hop Brunch on Oct 20 where we mixed it up with Soul Bowl and Graze Provision + Libations in North Loop Minneapolis, including live music with DJ Huh What and EMCEE SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE! 

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Master Class with Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard demonstrates breathing techniques, photo by Benny Moreno

Sixty people attended a master class with Terence Blanchard and 15 talented youth on Fri, Oct 25 at Walker | West. This opportunity was part of an ongoing and long-time relationship between the Ordway and Walker | West introduced by Robin P. Hickman-Winfield, CEO and Executive Producer of SoulTouch Productions, founder of Taking Our Place Centerstage, and Ordway Organizational Strategist.

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Beats, Rhymes and Democracy Radio Panel Discussion II

Tish Jones and B-Boy J-Sun in the KFAI studio

An engaging dialogue about how Hip Hop can be a force for societal change with Terence Blanchard, Rennie Harris, Jason Noer (B-Boy J-Sun) and Tish Jones as they joined Maia Maiden aka Rah Fya and DJ Digie. Tune in to 90.3 FM/106.7 FM or stream from for KFAI’s Beats, Rhymes and Democracy on Mondays, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm with DJs: JSE The Navigator and Da DonData.

Listen now to the episode


Ordway Pre-Show Extra:
Hip Hop as a Tool for Education

In this video recap, produced by Souleye Productions, the audience gained insight and knowledge about about the 5 elements (DJing, MCing, Breakdancing, Graffiti, and Knowledge) the cornerstone Hip Hop and how they can be a force for societal change prior to the ROOTED: Special Edition performance on Oct 25 in Ordway’s Target Atrium. Panelists included Tish JonesJason Noer (B-Boy J-Sun), Rodney Hill from Rennie Harris Puremovement, curated by Maia Maiden, Curator & Director of Maia Maiden Productions and moderated by Jamie Edwards and Brett Buckner, co-hosts of KFAI’s Beats, Rhymes and Democracy, airs from 6 to 7 p.m. on Monday(s). 

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Creating with Krump Basics:

Krump workshop with Herb Johnson III, photo by Tommy Sar

Krump Dance Workshop with Herb “Fair Warning” Johnson III

More than 60 people showed up to participate in the Krump Dance Workshop on Oct 26 in Ordway’s Drake Room. Participants, including youth from St. Paul Youth Services’ YouthPower, learned combos and basics of the street dance style krump with nationally and internationally recognized leader of the Kaution Family, Herb “Fair Warning” Johnson III.

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Master Class with Rennie Harris Puremovement

Rodney Hill of Rennie Harris Puremovement leads the master class, photo by Tommy Sar

On Oct 26, twenty-five people participated in a master class in Ordway’s Drake Room with Rennie Harris Puremovement company members who are well versed in the vernacular of Hip Hop, popping, locking, stepping, breaking, house, and other styles that have emerged from the African American and Latino communities of inner-city America. It included exercises to develop muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina and basic movement and techniques were defined, practiced, and developed into combinations. Hip Hop styles were explored as sources for inspiration and vocabulary for choreography. The movement is technically tied to complex and often challenging, invigorating, and uplifting driving rhythms.

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Ordway Pre-Show Extra:
Art Healing the Wounds of Social Injustice

The audience witnessed a powerful conversation, “in a time such as this,” between Maia Maiden, Curator & Director of Maia Maiden Productions moderated by Robin P. Hickman-Winfield, CEO and Executive Producer of SoulTouch Productions, founder of Taking Our Place Centerstage, and Ordway Organizational Strategist prior to the Caravan: A Revolution On the Road performance on Oct 26 in Ordway’s Target Atrium. This video, produced by Souleye Productions, is a recap highlighting the intersection of art, justice, and healing.

Guests also had the opportunity to learn how communities are coming together to honor the life and humanitarianism of Philando Castile through The Community Peace Garden, a gathering space for peace, justice and healing, a project of the Minnesota and St. Paul Foundation.

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Art Installation of True Headz Clothing

True Headz Clothing art installation, photo by Sherine Onukwuwe

Guests of the two performances on Oct 25 & 26 also experienced a unique art installation in Ordway’s Target Atrium featuring fashion by Neil Taylor of True Headz Clothing, including his trademark caps that celebrate old school fat laces – and that spirit of unrestrained creativity – in a new way.

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Maia Maiden Productions