If Cities Could Dance


Albuquerque's Native American Hip-Hop Dance

Described as “Indigenous futurism,” Albuquerque’s hip-hop and freestyle dance scene is driven by Indigenous dancers from many tribes, Pueblos and communities. A strong sense of solidarity holds it together, say dancers Anne Pesata (Jicarilla Apache) & Raven Bright (Diné). Randy L. Barton, a dancer, DJ & artist (Navajo) created The Sacred Cypher, an event where Indigenous art forms & hip-hop link.

AIRED: June 23, 2020 | 0:06:03

(upbeat Native American flute music)

(Speaking in Navajo) Greetings, my family and my people.

Welcome to Albuquerque, an occupied Tewa lands.

My name's Raven.

My name is Anne.

We're gonna show you around a few of

our favorite spots to dance.

(upbeat flute music)

[Raven] Our dance, it's a mixture between

indigenous cultures and hip-hop culture.

People don't know that those two things are

so closely intermingled together.

(upbeat flute and drum music)

(upbeat hip hop music)

(tribal drum beat)

[Anne] Albuquerque is a collecting point for rural people

all over New Mexico.

(tribal drum beat)

People from different tribes, different pueblos,

different cultural backgrounds.

And part of what's special is the hip-hop community.

(electronic music)

We are at Breakin' Hearts 2020.

(electronic music)

[Raven] My dance crew is Foundations of Freedom,

founded in the early 2000's by Randy L. Barton,

Cloud Face, and I think a couple other OGs.

[Randy] Foundations of Freedom started around 2001,

and it's a collective of many crews from New Mexico

and Arizona, from border towns.

Hip-hop is built from oppression.

You deal with racism, like, really, really bad, you know.

All you're really seeing is the energy from oppression


I'd rather explode than implode,

'cause if you implode, that's suicide.

(upbeat Native American flute music)

[Anne] I am Jicarilla Apache.

I was traditionally raised on a reservation.

My culture is intrinsically connected to dance.

You're encouraged to get up there and move.

I started powwow dancing as a young girl.

I have a strong connection to my land,

a strong connection to my people,

and a strong connection to my culture.

(electronic music)

We connected at a jam, and the excitement that I felt,

the spark of creativity, hit something so deep within me.

[Raven] We are able to talk without using words.

We keep pushing each other to go farther, or

[Anne] lifting each other up.

[Raven] We lift each other up.

(upbeat tribal drums)

[Anne] As a dancer, I listen.

That's a big part of being indigenous is being open

to the story of the world around you.

(upbeat tribal drums)

[Raven] I come from Gallup, New Mexico.

I'm half Diné,

I'm claimed by DibéBzhíní Black Sheep clan,

and I'm also German as well.

That comes from my mother's side.

Being a part of hip-hop culture helped me

connect those worlds together

and reconnect with my indigenous roots.

(pulsating electronic music)

[Anne] They hold space for you to be the most that

you can be within a dance space, so I allow myself to go

to these crazy almost spiritual places when I dance.

(rhythmic chimes)

Randy is something of an icon in Southwest hip-hop culture

because he's honoring the ancient, the ancestors,

while embodying the future.

[Raven] Like Sacred Cypher,

one of the events that he's created.


[Randy] Sacred Cypher, it had all the original elements

of hip-hop.

Growing up, you know, all our ceremonies

involved a drum, chanting.

The DJing is the drumming.

The MCing is the chanting.

The graffiti art is the petroglyphs, and the dancing,

you know, never trust a spiritual leader who cannot dance.

[Raven] We're all energetically connected,

and that's where our idea of community comes from.

(rhythmic chanting)

(tribal drumming)

[Randy] That's what I love about hip-hop.

Everything is alive.

You take it to the floor, these things that hold you down

don't hold you down anymore.

You know, it's like, and that's why you see

the angry spirit fighting back,

'cause it's fighting to get free.

(rhythmic drum music)

[Raven] Hey, guys, thanks for watching the video.

[Anne] There's more If Cities Could Dance videos.

Click to the left to check 'em out.

(upbeat drumming)


  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv


Young Stars of Ballet
Under a Minute
The Temple Makers
State of the Arts
Rising Artist
Open Studio with Jared Bowen
Me, Dorothy … and This Road to Oz
Making a New American Nutcracker
Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas
Live From Lincoln Center
In Motion
Illinois Artists at Work: Cannot Live Without
Designers of the Dance