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Gift of Dance Academy students will join local rapper Kool Craze for a performance on April 25, 2014 at salem fields community church. ( REZA A. MARVASHTI / THE FREE LANCE-STAR )

Gift of Dance Academy students will join local rapper Kool Craze for a performance on April 25, 2014 at Salem Fields Community Church. ( REZA A. MARVASHTI / THE FREE LANCE-STAR )

Local hip–hop artist Kool Craze will bring dance, music and local culture together at his upcoming “MCMLIV” concert at Salem Fields Community Center.

The show will feature dancers from the Gift of Dance Academy in Fredericksburg, who will open the show with their “Swan Lake” choreography, before joining Kool Craze for two of the 16 songs he will perform.

“Kool Craze came to us and gave us this great opportunity,” said Stephanie Tetreault, the owner of Gift of Dance Academy. “We love community events, and any chance or opportunity I can give the dancers, I jump on.”

Kool Craze, whose real name is Travis Hamn, has been inspired by dance throughout his career, and wanted to include it as part of his concert.

“I’ve been wanting to incorporate ballet for a long time, and I just love the elegance of it all,” said the Fredericksburg native. “When I saw the choreography from the girls there, I just knew it was perfect.”

Friday’s concert is to promote Kool Craze’s new mixtape, “MCMLIV.”

“It’s not a physical tape or anything, it’s a collection of my songs that are all online to listen to or download for free,” said the singer, who was named one of the winners in Intel’s Superstars Competition last year.

MCMLIV, which in Roman numerals means 1954, is the year that inventor George Devol created the first industrial robot. This event inspired the ongoing robot story line that Kool Craze has cultivated throughout his career.

“The story goes that Devol also created human robots, which were then taken by the government,” Kool Craze said. “I was one of those robots, but he hid me, and set it so that I wouldn’t be born until I was needed.”

Many of his songs follow this story line and involve the ongoing robot saga.

“I like to say that Devol has me born when music started going downhill, and he made sure I’d be mature enough to take over and guide it back in the right direction,” he said.

Kool Craze seeks to make his music futuristic, and includes the robot theme in all of his work.

“I really like to do interesting concerts, and I bring in the robot vibe through my lights,” he said.

The performances use a variety of LED, sound-activated lights that can be found onstage, on the instruments, on his shoes and even on the drumsticks.

“I love performing live, and I like to make every show different. You’ll never see the same show twice, and I even make all the songs different for a live concert,” Kool Craze said.

In addition, he likes to include local culture in all of his shows.

“I pull from local vibes everywhere I go, and in Fredericksburg, I wanted to bring the community into it, especially with the dancers,” he added.

The nine dancers who will join Kool Craze are fans of his music and excited for the collaboration.

“He has really chased his dream and made it come true, and I think that’s something the girls can really relate to,” said Tetreault. “He’s done it, so it shows that they can, too.”

Despite gaining national attention for his music, Kool Craze still likes to return to his roots.

“This is where I’m from, this is where I got my start,” Kool Craze said. “I want to do what I can to give back to my hometown.”

What: Family-friendly concert featuring Kool Craze and Gift of Dance Academy

When: Friday, April 25, 6-8 p.m.

Where: Salem Fields Community Center, 11120 Gordon Road, Spotsylvania

Cost: $10, $5 ages 13 and under


Hope Racine 540/374-5403