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Raised on South Dakota’s Rosebud Reservation, 24-year-old Chicago-based performer/producer Frank Waln grew up immersed in the surprisingly complimentary worlds Native American, electronica and hip-hop music. The resulting performance style is a deft mix of traditional beats, dense rapping and looping mixes used to address the negative portrayal of Native Americans and overcome “the self-oppression that exists in many Lakota communities.”
He’s currently teaching a workshop at Chen Dance Center, which culminates in two public performances. Dance Center associate director Dian Dong, who notes that “Hip-hop is not a long-standing tradition in our largely immigrant community,” calls Waln’s visit “a very special gift” meant to further the Center’s efforts to blend cultures and artistic styles. It seems to be working, according to Waln — who says that from the outset, his “happy connection” with the Chinatown dance institute felt “like I found a lost Tribe of mine!”
“Hip Hop & Hoops” is performed on Fri., Nov. 8 & Sat., Nov. 9, at 7:30pm. At Chen Dance Center (70 Mulberry St., corner of Mulberry & Bayard Sts.). For tickets ($12, $10 for students/seniors), call 212-349-0126. Visit chendancecenter.org, and follow Waln at twitter.com/FrankWaln.