Many of you familiar with my affiliation with the North of Howard dance group, 808s Youth Empowerment thru Dance, ask me what's going on with them.

Despite some problems with the sound track, the last major performance on February 13, 2012 at the Wyllie B. White Field House, done in conjunction with the new Rogers Park based ballet company, Phoenix Rising Chicago, was an uplifting event, especially since the 20 or so 808s dancers pulled together to pull off a performance during a time of great stress in the North of Howard neighborhood, brought on by gang violence.
How neat to see the ballet group and the 808s take turns performing, and the upbeat conclusion, a free spirited dance where members from both groups started freestyle dancing, then joined by members of the audience.

Since that event, two of the co founders of the 808s, Jermaine and Jerrell Hawk (brothers), in addition to their dance performances, have embarked on another creative direction, making dance and music videos.

From time to time I have seen their videos, which are shot and edited by Jerrell, with both young men developing the music and choreographing the images. Though the music, lyric and beats are a far cry from what I customarily listen to, I am wildly impressed with the enthusiasm, energy and creative talent displayed by these young men from our neighborhood.

Its taking a while, as I find myself becoming more familiar with this entire hip hop culture. I don't like a lot of it, yet I do like the focus on dance and positivism that seem to represent the core of Jermaine and Jerrell's work. They are discovering their voice, and its damn good.

Those of you with a keen eye will notice a fresh new talent making her cameo appearance in the video: my daughter Ella.

It must be her innate natural talent that causes her to stand out the way she does.

This video – a form of upbeat hip hop – ought to resonate with many audiences. Its also neat to see that many parts of the video is shot in Rogers Park, and that many of the youth appearing in the video are local 808s dancers.

I am extraordinarily proud of the 808s dancers, and I encourage everyone who likes this video to forward the link to others, and, if you feel inclined, to LIKE it. Let's help make this video go a bit, uh, viral!

How exciting to see local young folks, the 808s dancers, making a name as hip hop musicians as well as well as leaders of a dance troupe for local youth. I encourage the community to support their apparent goal of using art and creative expression to convey a positive, upbeat message.

Tic tic tic tic.