8th Annual Line Breaks Festival Returns to the Overture Center

Now in its eighth year, the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) presents the annual Line Breaks Festival, the largest hip hop festival in the Midwest, Wednesday, April 16 through Friday, April 25.  This will be the third year the festival will take place at the Overture Center for the Arts, but for the first time under the Overture Community Arts Access Program.


This year’s headliners include guest artists Rennie Harris and Michael Sakamoto performing “Flash,” on Thursday, April 24 and Friday, April 25. This dance theater duet is a “public conversation” between the artists’ respective aesthetics—butoh and hip-hop—cultural backgrounds—Japanese-American and African-American—and personalities. The two artists perform together on stage, combining their dual approaches to address the intersection of urban and environmental crisis, social resistance, and corporeal identity.

 “The guest artists’ and student works presented in Line Breaks 2014 features strongly on the body as sites for exploration, discovery and healing,” said Chris Walker, the festival’s curator and Artistic Director of OMAI. “Unique collaborations produce diverse narratives that intersect at questions of presence, ownership, value, cultural fusions, inclusions and contradictions.”

 This will be the third year the festival will take place at the Overture Center for the Arts, but for the first time under the Overture Community Arts Access Program.

The festival will also feature two performances of Rain Wilson’s “Jungle Kings,” on Tuesday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 23. “Jungle Kings” follows the growth and descent of Baby Cockroach, an African-American youth taken under the wings of an OG (original gangster) named Cockroach. Wilson, a visual artist and playwright, also serves as OMAI’s Creative and Academic Advisor.

 Beginning Wednesday, April 16 through Thursday, April 24, First Wave student artists will perform solo and ensemble works, including:  “Fire Under the Skin,” the 7th Cohort’s collaborative large ensemble production of reflection, discovery and the reach to evolve; “Loud and Unchained” of schizophrenia and the struggle to function in everyday life by T. Banks; “The Mis-Education of Mil Chet” explores the intersecting narratives of Milwaukee women, by Ashley Street and Nakila Robinson; “Flounder” an immigrant narrative of assimilation and in-betweenity by Elton Ferdinand III; “Cult of Blk Bodies” challenges contradictions to the blk female body narrative through the story of a young blk feminist’s return to her baptist roots, by Erika Dickerson; “Honey in My Tea” a musical theater narrative of survival and womanhood by The Bellhops a student ensemble of musicians, writers and singers led by Taylor Scott.

Line Breaks events are always free and open to the public. Audiences are invited to join the artists for a 30-minute discussion following each performance to continue the conversation about these powerful personal narratives.

 For a complete rundown of the festival’s schedule and information about the events, go to www.linebreaks.wisc.edu.

About the Guest Artists

Rennie Harris is a dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Rennie Harris Puremovement, a hip-hop dance company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip-hop culture through workshops, lectures, residencies, mentor programs, and performances. Harris celebrates hip-hop culture on his own terms by using some of the world’s most influential forms of movement, music, and storytelling to revolutionize contemporary concert dance. The LA Times says he’s “The apotheosis of hip-hop… [with] a redemptive and ultimately inspiring vision.” Michael Sakamoto is a transdisciplinary artist active in dance, theater, media, and photography. He is best known as an innovator in contemporary butoh, a form of Japanese theater, which serves as the philosophical base of all of his works. Michael’s ensemble and solo performances have been presented in over a dozen countries throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. The San Francisco Bay Guardian says “Sakamoto creates expressionist theater that evokes the mysterious, the withering and the tongue-in-cheek.”

 About Line Breaks

Line Breaks is produced annually by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives’ (OMAI) and is curated by Chris Walker, Artistic Director of First Wave and Assistant Professor of Dance at the UW-Madison. The festival is designed to bring the top new aesthetics in contemporary performance art to the UW-Madison campus and the surrounding community.  It has evolved into a space for the investigation of contemporary American culture through the lens of hip-hop performance.

 Line Breaks was initially developed as a weekly performance/lecture/discussion series, where invited professional artists engaged with the local campus community.  It was sponsored by OMAI and tied to the Spring 2006-07 Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Arts Institute Residency.  The project culminated in a final performance of student work called “Just Bust” – an event, which has evolved into our monthly open mic, now running for 7 years.  Line Breaks has since evolved into a week long festival that cultivates performance art by building relationships among and between industry–leading artist professionals and aspiring student artists.   With the commitment to create access to the work, all activities tied to this, the largest hip hop-centered performance festival in the Midwest are free and open to the public.


Line Breaks is presented and made possible by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), a unit in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Overture Center Community Arts Access Program.