Making moves: Lords of the Land brings street dance culture to Public Square

Where street dance culture and hip-hop cred meet, you’ll find Cleveland-based dancer and choreographer Samuel McIntosh. And McIntosh is bringing that intersection to the corner of Euclid and Ontario with Lords of the Land—a free four-day festival designed to highlight all Northeast Ohio's street dance scene has to offer.

“Cleveland has a strong street dance community, and a lot of people don’t know that,” says McIntosh, founder of the 10K Movement. “This event will be a great opportunity for people to connect with the movement and see what’s happening behind the scenes.”

Scheduled for this Thursday, July 29 through Sunday, August 1, the inaugural Lords of the Land event (LoTL) will transform Public Square into a vibrant hip-hop hub—featuring a dance tournament (or “battle”), live DJs, workshops, performances, and food trucks. More than 150 competitors from ages 17 to 37 will take the stage to vie for $1,500 in prizes across three categories: open styles, krump, and popping.

For McIntosh, the chance to showcase different styles of hip-hop was a big driver in creating LoTL. While many tend to think of hip-hop as an exhaustive genre in itself, McIntosh is more interested in highlighting the many nuanced forms and techniques within hip-hop dance—all of which have a rich history and distinct flair. His goal? To show that hip-hop is far from homogenous.

“Most dance studios don’t teach the various styles—they’ll just call the class ‘hip-hop,’” says McIntosh. “It’s similar to a big dojo that teaches the basics of martial arts without delving into the authentic culture or history. The true education happens in the streets.”

McIntosh should know—he's spent the last 11 years training not only in Greater Cleveland, but also in New York and Los Angeles (where many hip-hop styles originated). Some of McIntosh’s mentors have included the members of the Electric Boogaloos crew and locking legend Richie Rich, a protégé of the genre’s creator Don Campbellock.

“I was able to train with the pioneers of street dance, and 10K Movement is a reflection of my teachings from both coasts,” shares McIntosh. “My goal was to dive into the source and bring it back here so we could create more access.”

McIntosh founded 10K Movement in 2017 to do just that—citing a desire to “preserve, present, and cultivate authentic hip-hop and street dance culture in the Greater Cleveland area and the world.” The name is a nod to Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that it takes 10,000 hours to master a vocation, and McIntosh carries out this vision through performances, events, and educational experiences.

“Hip-hop is an American folk genre and I think people forget that,” says McIntosh. “I want to create more educational opportunities and jobs that focus on street dance.”

Eventually, McIntosh hopes to help mount a national battling league (similar to the Dutch Dance League), and he’s also planning to make Lords of the Land an annual event that will help place Cleveland on par with the street dance scene in other large Midwest cities.

“The Illstyle Rockers do a Christmas Jam in Akron, and Columbus has a thriving B-boy community, but a battle of this scale has not happened yet in Cleveland,” says McIntosh. "There's no reason we can't be like Chicago or Detroit—they've got it unlocked, and now it's time for us to follow suit."

Jen Jones Donatelli
Jen Jones Donatelli

About the Author: Jen Jones Donatelli

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast.

When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.