Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Hip hop history comes alive through They REM performance at Butler Middle

Mar 07, 2023 03:34PM ● By Jolene Croasmun

They REM performers hip hop dance at Butler Middle School to music of the past. (Jolene Croasmun/City Journals)

Young dancers from the group They REM performed a history of hip hop complete with music, dancing, a DJ and an emcee. The event was held in February at Butler Middle School for a $10 entrance fee and presented by the Cottonwood Heights Arts Council. 

They REM, which is short for They Reminisce, is a group of talented young dancers that are part of the 1520 Arts studio. Hip hop has been around for 50 years and this nonprofit organization strives to promote hip hop dancing as a respected and legitimate art form. 

Vice Chair of the Cottonwood Heights Arts Council Ciara Powers was in the lobby before the performance greeting guests and providing information about this event. “The dancers are from the dance studio 1520 Arts and this performance is a condensed version of what 1520 Arts studio did last fall at Rose Wagner,” Powers said. 

Powers added, “We have never done this before and wanted to bring in something different into the community, some culture.”


The emcee Tex started the show. “Hip hop culture is turning 50 years old this year. And each new generation faces the difficult task of bringing something new to the table, but the challenge is how do you do this and preserve what has come before.

“In 1973, hip hop was born when a DJ did something that was never done before by playing the same record on two turntables at the same time. This became known as scratching,” Tex said.

Tex continued educating the crowd about the history of hip hop with classic songs that had the  audience moving and grooving in their seats. Dancers began break dancing to demonstrate the early hip hop style of dance. 

Next, Tex brought out a group of dancers that performed moves called blocking to an old popular tune, “Boogie Nights.”

“Rap music would remain underground until 1979 when Sugar Hill Gang’s song was released, ‘Rapper’s Delight,’” Tex said. This song started playing and many folks that were kids back when this song was played on the radio were delighted and sang along when they heard this old favorite.

Tex continued to chronologically tell the history of hip hop through culture and used popular music and the talented dancers to demonstrate the evolution of this style of dance. 

There were yells from the crowd as the performers started a dance-off competition. One could hear comments like, “Who's got the moves!” 

Chair for the Cottonwood Heights Arts Council Laura Garcia along with Ann Eatchel, the cultural manager of Cottonwood Heights, attended the event and represented the Arts Council in the lobby at Butler Middle School’s auditorium. 

“I watched a documentary recently about hip hop culture and found it was very interesting,” Garcia said. Garcia, along with the rest of the Arts Council, try to bring events like They REM to the community. These culturally enriching performances are a way for Cottonwood Heights residents to experience other cultures and to inspire them through art.