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Break Free Hip Hop School provides lessons in new-age culture

HOUSTON – This is not your ordinary summer camp. There are no horses, no lakes to swim in. Instead the kids at Break Free Hip Hop School are learning all about poetry, DJ’ing, break dancing and graffiti art.

“For me I want to be a full time b-boy when I grow up,” Valencio Martinez said.

What’s a b-boy you ask?

It’s also known as a break-boy or break dancer and at 12 years old, Valencio is well on his way to making that dream a reality. He’s been learning his moves from Jeremy Pena, executive director of Break Free Hip Hop School, for the last three years.

“Hip hop is a culture,” Pena said. “It started in the late '70s in New York and it operates under those four elements, the umbrella: break dancing, DJ’ing, graffiti art and poetry.”

The school started in 2011 and claims to be the world’s first hip-hop school. At its summer camps the kids get a bit of everything.

“Part of our mission here is to kind of educate on what we believe hip hop really is. Sometimes we think hip-hop is negatively misrepresented in the media and the general public,” Pena said.

“Some people at first they thought it put you more in a bad scene because at first it was more gangs but really it takes you out of that environment,” Valencio said.

“We view it as nothing but positive and having nothing but positive effects on our lives,” Pena said. “The ideals behind it, peace, love, unity and having fun, it’s kind of like a way to just live by.”

Pena believes instilling confidence and inspiring creativity at this age will lead to lifelong success.

However, hip-hop as a whole is not just for the young.

“From ages 3 on up means 3 on up, so we do classes for adults. It’s never too late. Some people, especially for dancing, might come in and be like, 'Oh I might end up breaking a bone rather than breaking,’” Pena said.

The camps run through July and are for ages 6-18 but Pena really means people any age can give it a try.

If you have interest in learning about any part of hip-hop culture, Break Free can hook you up.

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