Loading Events

A Nation Grooves: A People’s History of Hip-Hop


  • Artists In Residence


In January 2021 MASS MoCA hosted the team behind A Nation Grooves: A People’s History of Hip-Hop, developed by Kambi Gathesha with sound designer Sinan Zafar, along with the full creative team listed below. A response to Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, A Nation Grooves, through freestyle dance, follows Black history from the 1970s to the present, as a new discourse on the staying power of the beat. A dance-centered theater piece, the production draws inspiration from the origins of hip-hop and those who birthed it, specifically youth in the New York and Bay areas.

About the artists
Originally from Nairobi, Kenya, Kambi Gathesha (creator, director, choreographer) is a Brooklyn-based actor and choreographer. He studied acting at the Juilliard School and dance and African History at Columbia University. As an actor, he was most recently seen in the New York premiere of Obie award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris’ What to Send up When it Goes Down. His other New York credits include Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature Theatre); Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Classical Theatre of Harlem). Regionally he has appeared at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and he recurs on the forthcoming television pilot “Big Dogs” (Choice Films). As a dancer and choreographer, he has presented work at APAP, PMT, Dance New Amsterdam, City Center, Peridance, Battery Park Downtown Dance Festival, Cool New York, and White Wave. He has collaborated and worked with choreographers Reggie Wilson of Fist and Heel; David Parker’s The Bang Group, Darcy Naganuma, and with Tony Award-winning Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. Education/Training: Juilliard and Columbia.

Sinan Refik Zafar (sound design and sonic dramaturgy) is a New York-based sound designer and composer. Broadway: What the Constitution Means to Me (Helen Hayes Theater). Off-Broadway/New York: What the Constitution Means to Me (New York Theatre Workshop, Clubbed Thumb); What To Send Up, and She Would Stand Like This (The Movement Theatre Company); Intelligence (Next Door @ NYTW); Hamlet (Waterwell); Midsummer (Tiltyard). His work has been seen regionally at theaters across the country, including: Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, Dorset Theatre Festival, Two River Theater, and TheaterSquared. University: Yale Drama, Dartmouth University, NYU, Sarah Lawrence College. He is a member of Wingspace Theatrical Design. MFA: Yale School of Drama.

Creative Team & Dancers/Performers:
Nelson Chalas I, Dancer/Performer
Marie Davis, Assistant Director
Ryan “RK” Davis, Dancer/Performer
DJ Doc, DJ/performer
Michael Francis, Octopus Theatricals
Bryan Hunt, Producer with Octopus Theatricals
Brian Hickey, Sound Design
Genevieve Ortiz, Stage Manager
Adesola Osakalumi, Dancer/Performer
Victor Sho, Dancer/Performer
Charlene “Chi Chi” Smith, Dancer/Performer
Michael Wimberly, Music Director