US Soldiers step up to German cultural scene, take 'everybody by storm'
October 31, 2013
SCHWEINFURT, Germany (Oct. 31, 2013) -- Since 1995 the city of Schweinfurt has hosted an annual culture night drawing in performances in theater, dance, literature, jazz and German folk music. But for a group of American Soldiers here, it was a platform to introduce American hip-hop to a country more in tune with music ranging from Ludwig van Beethoven to beer hall oom-pah and '80s hair bands.
The BOSS Urban Dancers -- a group of seven U.S. Soldiers from U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program -- showcased their brand of American hip-hop at Schweinfurt's Nacht der Kultur Oct. 5, marking the group's first choreographed performance outside garrison gates.
"It was just fun, it was energetic, it was just different than normal," said group member Spc. Khiry Griffin.
This performance was significant for both the group and the city. It marked the first time the event showcased a U.S. Army act in the roster, said BOSS adviser, Silvia Joiner.
"Practicing for this performance got the Soldiers involved in something positive and constructive and many of their peers and supervisors supported them by attending the event," Joiner said.
The group rehearsed every weeknight since mid-August under the guidance of Spc. Jessie Vinson, who, before arriving in Schweinfurt, toured as a dancer for eight months with the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show.
"I'm pretty sure they liked us better than anything else that went on that night," said Vinson. "You had like three or four people doing the same type of dance, and then we came out there with American hip-hop and took everybody by storm."
Joiner learned about Vinson's unique background through casual conversation and shortly after encouraged him to recruit other program members and form a dance group.
Answering the call to join were Pfc. Karlea Henderson, Pfc. Jonathan Mejia, Griffin, Pfc. Elena Aguilar, Pfc. Shelbi Palmer and Schweinfurt's BOSS president, Spc. David Matthews.
With the exception of Vinson, none of the members came to the group with any formal training.
"I was actually the last person to join the group," said Pfc. Henderson. "I asked if I could join and they said yes."
"The fact that they were able to get together for all the rehearsals was a miracle in itself," said Joiner.
Vinson looks ahead to the future of the BOSS Urban Dancers.
"The person who was in charge of this event told us that they are going to have several events coming up in the winter time," said Vinson. "They want us to dance at every single event they have coming up."