Stackin’ Stylez Freestyle Dance Festival 2022 – Dig Bos
“The festival is best known for its electrifying atmosphere, innovative format and community-level impact.”
It was only a few years ago that we turned our spotlight to Ashton Litesbetter known as Stackz in Boston dance circles, for his work leading Stiggity, an organization that uses urban arts to teach life-building skills, and for his events in the area that relate to his mission.
Coming out of the pandemic with that mission intact, next week Lites returns with the biggest Stackin’ Stylez yet, September 8-11 with one last freestyle concept battle in the Middle East on the latter.
We reached out before the big battle for an introduction and to catch up with one of the most exciting personalities in Boston arts today.
First of all, for those of us with flat feet, tell us exactly what a freestyle concept battle is?
Freestyle, not to be confused with (but not exclusive to) 80s electro dance music culture is a term used to describe a range of black cultural dance styles based on improvisation/self-expression. Styles like popping, krumping, house, breakin, flexin, Memphis Jookin, etc. are basic forms that are invited to compete and each individual dancer, while representing their style, is challenged to adapt their free dance style to random concepts that are assigned each round. of the competition bracket.
Notions like ‘footwork‘ challenging a competitor to perform their trick focusing primarily on the movement of their feet. Then there are concepts like ‘elimination‘ where dancers can choose which end their opponent cannot use during their turn. These concepts not only level the playing field for competition, but also invite in a fun, creative and transformative atmosphere that competitors and audiences alike can enjoy.
Why is this event particularly well-known now that it has built its reputation over the past two years?
Stackin’ Stylez has become a family/collective that spans the globe. The festival is best known for its electrifying atmosphere, innovative format and community impact. Between the educational panels/workshops, parties, and unique event format, audiences/attendees really get a great insight into Boston’s vibrant freestyle dance culture.
KI-NEN, Brooklyn Lightfoot veteran and winner of the 2nd annual Stackin’ Stylez, said, “Stackin’ Stylez’ impacted my journey through their unique format. After my first experience with the concepts put together at the Stackin’ Stylez event. My movement has gained in amplitude, allowing my imagination to take on many new forms in the future”.
There is a lot of mutual admiration among dancers in your community, but there is also a lot of competition. Where does this event fall along this continuum? More friendly? More competitive? A bit of all of the above?
The concept challenges the level playing field and really dilutes the opportunity for overly competitive and unproductive energy. While the competition still has a competitive edge (dancers compete for a $700 prize/trophy/gift), it takes on a lighter, game show-like form, just with world-class skilled dancers. In between competition rounds, audiences and participants enjoy an open dance floor, food, drink, vendors and often feel inspired to network/connect.
What about styling? What are some of the unique styles that people bring
This battle attracts practitioners of many unique styles from across the state. We’ve had Turf dancers from the Bay Area, Memphis Jookin, popping, animation, krump, Jersey Club, lite-feet, flex, breakin, house, hip-hop, and more. We had guests from Senegal, Switzerland, Canada, France, etc. Bringing their own unique flavor to the many traditional freestyle dance forms.
How similar is Stackin’ Stylez to what you originally planned?
I started cultivating the idea of Stackin’ Stylez six years before producing the first edition. Boston has an amazing freestyle dance history and I wanted to find a way to rekindle the momentum while shining a light on those who paved the way. I had also traveled around the world to participate in competitions. I was not only competing for awards/respect, but also networking, building relationships, and studying the successes/failures of these types of events. From there, I was able to craft a plan that would not only celebrate Boston dance, but also invite a vibrant new energy into the city. Stackin’ Stylez is very similar to what it was meant to be and more. I wanted it to be a great, well-produced space for people to enjoy, but I didn’t anticipate the positive impact it would have on people’s lives.
Is this an event where people outside of the freestyle dance community can come and really get a taste of what it’s like in the core culture? Any advice for pure spectators?
Spectators are encouraged to come and be part of the ambience. Most shows tend to create a barrier between the performers and the audience, at Stackin Stylez you can sit side by side, dance, drink and eat with the contestants/talents who will be on stage. Spectators will not only have the chance to connect with the grassroots freestyle dance community in Boston, but they will also have the opportunity to meet and build with the international dance community. Finally, I challenge all viewers to invite a few friends and enjoy the whole weekend package. Participate in the workshops, come to the panel discussions, party with us at the pre-parties and bring all of these experiences to the main event to watch them with a whole new eye/appreciation for the culture.
If by chance people want to get into the experiment they can participate in BNB STACK, a home exchange program based on skill sharing. If you are interested in hosting out of state guests you can fill out the form on the site and you will be associated with guest based preferences and in turn the guest will be required to share a skill with you . It could be a private dance lesson or a range of skills the guest may have to offer.