World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Imani's Dream

Dance Origin: United States
s: Hip Hop, Modern
Artistic Director:
Caprice Armstrong 
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2007

Armstrong comes from a dancing family and her dance style is a combination of hip hop, African, modern, and jazz dance. In addition to teaching dance, she teaches her students to love and respect themselves and others. She creates a high-energy environment where youth have the opportunity to become artists with a positive outlook for making change.  

Imani's Dream is an Oakland-based youth performance group that's become a close-knit urban family. This deeply moving young ensemble draws on their real-life experiences, hopes, and dreams to create original choreography in a special world of hip-hop dance. The performers’ backgrounds include ballet, jazz, African, and street dance, and their motto is: “A little love, a little dance makes to create a whole lot of Hip Hop!”


Title: A Rose That Grows From The Concrete
Dancers: Sarie Babino, Thea Barry, Clayton Bui, Iantha Castaneda, Destiny Courtney, Sanobia Crocette, Maurice Davis, Kimiko Delatorre, Dave Dickson, Jada Edwards, Briana Franklin, Renysha Franklin, Devyn Gaines, Neyah Hayes-Claybon, Keyshauna Heslip, Alexis Hill, Evan Ivery-Long, Natalia Johnson, She’Nee A. Linzie Morris, Anisha Perry, Zari Robinson-Goss, Tarik Rollerson, Ebon’i Route, Simona Sanders, Nique Santos-Harris, Tareana Shelton, Joi Stewart, Jahiem Tate, Destiny Tillery, Hayley Walker, Shameila Watkins

This original hip-hop piece, A Rose That Grows From the Concrete, was created in 2009 as a collaboration by the dancers in Imani's Dream. The story idea is by Artistic Director Caprice Armstrong, and the choreographers are Caprice Armstrong and Tarik Rollerson, Machante Brown, Destiny Courtney, Evan Ivery-Long, and Jetaun Maxwell.

Armstrong chose Tupac's poem because it's about openness and change. Her young choreographers and dancers can relate on a personal level, because "the sources from which they came are hard as the concrete on which they stand. But they've overcome it, broken the mold, and allowed the lessons of life to plant new seeds and bring forth their true selves. It’s all about how we see ourselves in a space, how we need to examine the invisible barriers of where we live, how by working in community we learn to leap over those boundaries and barriers!"

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?

Provin nature's laws wrong it learned how to walk without havin feet

Funny it seems but, by keepin its dreams

it learned to breathe FRESH air

Long live the rose that grew from concrete

when no one else even cared

No one else even cared..

The rose that grew from concrete

Tupac Shakur


TITLE: LYFE Radio Station 143.7
Caprice Armstrong, Lauren Benjamin, Machante Brown, Tarik Rollerson
Sarie Babino, Thea Barry, Clayton Bui, Destiny Courtney, Sanobia Crocette, Kimiko Delatorre, Dave Dickson, Devyn Gaines, Kyanna Greenlee, Evan Ivery-Long, Natalia “Nikki” Johnson, Nabu Judah, She’Nee A. Linzie Morris, Anisha Perry, Cartia Powell, Zari Robinson-Goss, Tarik Rollerson, Ebon’i Route, Simona Sanders, Tareana Shelton, Joi Stewart, Shadow Tarmarchenko, Haley Walker, Shameila Watkins, Delexus Woods

The radio station's call letters are LYFE; and 143 means "I love you" in a text message. It is a fictional call-in program that sets the stage for six heartfelt dances about the problems of love. In these inventive hip-hop pieces, young people call in with their concerns—looking for love in all the wrong places, trying to understand adult love, learning to express a person's inner beauty—and Imani's dream showcases two distinctly American dance forms.

Caprice Armstrong designed and wrote LYFE Radio Station 143.7 after asking her young dancers—"What human stories are inside the book covers we show others?" The lively choreography is by Caprice Armstrong, Lauren Benjamin, Machante Brown, and Tarik Rollerson.



TITLE: Our Story
: Caprice Armstrong, Lauren Benjamin, Tarik Rollerson, Machante Brown
: Sarie Babino, Clayton Bui, Destiny Courtney, Kimiko Delatorre, Devyn Gaines, Alondra Garcia, Francisca Garcia, Arienna Grody, Jaliahla Hawkins, Yohana Henderson, Evan Ivery-Long, Delona Jacobs, Marcel Jacobs, She'Nee A. Linzie-Morris, Aliyah Mathews, Anisha Perry, Tarik Rollerson, Ebon’i Route, Simona Sanders, Joi Stewart, Shameila Watkins, Delexus Woods

Artistic Director Caprice Armstrong choreographed Our Story for this Festival, with dancers Lauren Benjamin, Machante Brown, and Guest Choreographer, Tarik Rollerson. The creation of the piece began with a question, in October 2007. Caprice asked her dancers—ages five to nineteen—to research the toughest problems in their East Bay neighborhoods. The kids googled topics such as HIV, teen pregnancy, homelessness, and prostitution, and learned the disturbing statistics. Then they interviewed people close to them, and as they listened to the stories of people's lives, they began to put faces on the numbers. They learned how the problems they were researching had affected their neighbors and their own families. They quickly saw how stories from their neighborhoods were actually their own. So they discussed solutions, and came up with methods for young people to end the "circles and circles" of homelessness, drugs, and disrespect. They wrote up their stories and their solutions, and then turned them into hip-hop movement.

The group chose red costumes to attract attention—an attraction to something better—and because, as Caprice Armstrong says, "The red represents our blood, our sweat, and our tears!"



TITLE: Shout
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Caprice Armstrong, Machante Brown, Arienna Grody, and Tarik Rollerson
DANCERS: David Berry, Gardenia Blackwell, Destiny Courtney, Giovanni Gill, Arienna Grody, Morgan Grody, Yohana Henderson, Evan Ivory-Long, Ashley Jordan, Nabu Judah, Sha’nee Linzie, Naim Ransom, Tarik Rollerson, Joi Smith, Kamaya Surrell, Shamela Wackins, Dashante Waddell, Delexus Woods

Shout is an emotionally charged dance blending hip hop, jazz, and modern dance styles, which gives expression to contemporary urban struggles of childhood and adolescent life. More specifically, it is an urban epic about the pains of growing-up without a father. Directed by Ghanaian-American dance instructor, Caprice Armstrong, aka “Ms. Caprice,” the piece is a collaboration with the students that touches on different themes and experiences they have been through individually in their families and in their inner-city communities.

The selection of music, a mix of popular hip hop songs, was based on the connection between each dancer's personal story and the song lyrics. The lyrics of the songs are heartfelt as they address real life issues of youth growing up in urban communities around the country; issues such as racism, drugs, violence, abandonment, social apprehensions, isolation, and broken love. The personal poetry of each performer, along with their unique movement signatures, are testimony to their indomitable spirit and courageousness.

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