Blazing into their 10th year as an ensemble, BRKFST continues to “show us the future of dance” (Star Tribune) with a world premiere commissioned by The Cowles Center and Northrop, set to music by company member Renée Copeland. Their unique style of breaking and storytelling shines through in their work set to Dancers, Dreamers, and Presidents by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain. With each inroad they create, BRKFST inspires us to view breaking and contemporary dance in a way that “makes you see both differently” (Minnpost).


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Learn More - Explore These Themes

The content below derives from the Northrop Across Campus Program that supports Northrop's mission towards intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.

Find ways to make thematic connections to these suggested topics:

  • Dance: Urban & Street Dance, Modern/Contemporary
  • Music: Composition, Orchestra, Modern

Start a conversation about the performance, or encourage reflection, using these questions as inspiration.

In April, Northrop and the Cowles Center will be copresenting Twin Cities-based BRKFST dance company. The program includes the premiere of a Northrop Centennial Commission and a proscenium adaptation of a National Dance Project-funded work set to Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Dancers, Dreamers, and Presidents, an orchestral tone poem inspired by Ellen DeGeneres and then-senator Barack Obama dancing on the Ellen Show in 2007. 

  • Why do you think a dance company known for breaking would choose to set their work to a classically-based form of music? 
  • Do you believe that collaborating across forms will introduce new audiences to breaking and to classical music? Why or why not?

Breaking, the original hip-hop dance form, was pioneered by Black and Brown communities in the Bronx, New York in 1973. It emerged as a way of reclaiming power and identity through movement in response to widespread disregard by the government for the livelihoods and prosperity of BIPOC individuals.

  • How do you take a street style and put it on the stage, without losing the essence of the dance form?
  • Would you say that seeing breaking or other street dance forms on proscenium stages–traditionally Eurocentric spaces–could be a form of activism? Why or why not?

In July 2023, BRKFST collaborated with the Minnesota Orchestra for a special interpretation of Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge–the first time BRKFST choreographed a piece to classical music. Igor Stravinsky once called Grosse Fuge “an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever.”

  • What makes a piece of art contemporary? 
  • How do you imagine combining two distinct art forms–classical music and breaking–might breathe new life into an almost 200-year-old piece like Grosse Fuge
  • What challenges might a collaborative ensemble like BRKFST face when choreographing to Grosse Fuge?


The creation of Dancers, Dreamers and Presidents by Daniel Bernard Roumain was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Mellon Foundation and commissioned by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra of Hartford, CT and Minnesota Orchestra of Minneapolis, MN.

Minnesota State Arts Board - logos

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.