Created by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Anthony Veneziale in 2004, the critically acclaimed improv troupe Freestyle Love Supreme – famed for its successful run on Broadway in 2019, and as the subject of the 2020 Hulu documentary We Are Freestyle Love Supreme – launches its Freestyle Love Supreme Academy’s winter session of virtual interactive classes on January 16, with a hip-hop weekend for kids called “Hip Hop Homeroom.” It will be followed by a series of weekend workshops for both children and adults in January and February.
FLS Academy is the first-ever freestyle school created and run directly by FLS members, including teachers and guest facilitators in partnership with long-time FLS producers Kail and Miranda, Ars Nova founders Jenny and Jon Steingart, and Hamilton co-producer Jill Furman. It was founded in 2018, with the mission of fostering diverse creative voices using improvisation, storytelling, and freestyle rap, and a commitment to creating and maintaining an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.
Most of the learning experiences finish with a live performance, highlighting the Academy’s values and ethos. Current teachers include seasoned freestyle facilitators Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan, Tarik R. “Tardis Hardaway” Davis, Andrew “Jelly Donut” Bancroft, and Aneesa “Young Nees” Folds, with additional guest teachers and instructors.
The first remote winter weekend workshop of 2021, “History Rhymes & So Do Dreams!,” in session from 4-6:30 pm, on January 16-17, offers civil rights lessons with a beat to ages 7-17. Over the course of the two days, the participants learn about the civil rights movement, Black History, Black American leaders and activists, and the history of voting rights in America, combined with hip hop music, improv, teamwork, and creative assignments, and culminating in their own original rap about a heroic Black figure. It’s a fun and creative way to supplement a child’s education and enthusiasm, while home-schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Upcoming weekends include:
“Welcome to the Cypher” – A remote introductory course for adults, ages 18 and up, in beatbox, finding your flow, and telling your story over a beat. It is available on three different weekends, January 23-24, February 27-28, and March 27-28, from 5:00-7:30 pm.
“Hip Hop Homeroom: HERStory” – In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the second winter “Hip Hop Homeroom” for kids will take place Saturday, February 20-Sunday, February 21, 4:00-6:30 pm. Students, ages 7-17, can learn about women heroes in a two-day exploration and celebration of women abolitionists, suffragettes, and voting.
The fee for the two-day workshops is $100, but funding is available. “FLS Academy classes are designed for everyone and we strive to create as diverse a space as possible,” said Co-Founder Veneziale. “We are proud to continue the FLS Academy scholarship and financial assistance programs with opportunities available on a rolling basis. The Academy has granted more than fifteen scholarships so far and we are eager to welcome more participants of all ages in 2021.”