Texas’ first and only Hip-Hop School
Break Free Community Center was founded as a space where people who love hip-hop could practice art-forms and express themselves freely, in a safe, structured, and inspiring environment.
As a child, Moy Rivas, the center’s director and founder, envisioned a space that would be inclusive to his peers, who were eager to practice their skills but found opportunities and places to do so lacking.
Hip-hop has some negative connotations in society’s view, just as the communities where it most often flourishes do. Moy acknowledges the invaluable role the culture of hip-hop played in positively influencing his life, offering him a path to refine his skills, act as a contributor to culture, and engage the community.
The Hip-Hop school within Break Free Community Center stems from the idea that hip-hop is educational, and can be used not only to instruct children on art forms, but significant life skills as well, leading children to cultivate a productive, healthy lifestyle.
“A school format is what sets Break Free apart – it comes down to who is teaching, what is being taught, and how it’s structured,” Moy states. It’s this structure that endows Break Free’s Hip-Hop school with the status of original – more than teaching children how to move, instructors cover history in-depth as well, and remain committed to their own progress as practitioners. “We teach and share what we know and love,” Moy says.
Hip-hop is a culture that offers the values, practices, and experiences that can deeply enrich an individual’s life, in a positive way. It offers students to invent as much as they inherit, and to learn their own talents in relation with those of others, fostering countless opportunities for collaboration. As we pursue the study of hip-hop, Moy says, “We can be educated not just on a skill form or art, but on culture and community and involvement. Hip-hop can redirect lives.”
Hip-hop is a culture that traces back to the 1970’s, when it first emerged among pockets of youth in the Bronx borough of New York City.
Early DJ’s played Breaks, which are the percussive parts of songs where the vocals drop out and drum and bass are featured. From the crowd, dancers, recognized as the earliest B-Boys, began shaping their own unique creative movement. Freestyle reigned supreme during the early years, because the practice was new, but over the years the foundation of Breakin’ was established, and up and coming bboys and bgirls would study the techniques of the pioneers who came before in order to develop their own style.
Breakin’ did not develop independently; within the umbrella of hip-hop, it grew alongside practices such as DJing, spoken word (R.A.P.), and graffiti art. Together, these fields comprise the elements of hip-hop: fundamentally interrelated, they each require dedicated study and practice in order to achieve a complete understanding of hip-hop.
Today, hip-hop is a phenomenon – for years, the mainstream has recognized it as a cutting edge style that influences everything from dance, music, films, apparel, high art, aesthetics, and the culture of youth itself. We find ourselves at a key moment in history, as collaborators in Break Free’s vision, we offer this rich artistic heritage to our children, while at the same time providing them with values of unity, commitment, confidence, and education.