yoga, hip hop

Art Basel’s Yoga Kick-Off

A hip-hop flow (for a good cause) precedes Miami’s cultural highpoint

The Mana Wynwood production village in Miami is covered in graffiti murals made by some of the best street artists in the world. On December 6th, the interior walls will light up with video screens displaying some of those very creatives in action. On the floor, 150 yoga mats—some particularly colorful ones designed by The Bushwick Collective—will be laid out in neat rows. Hip-hop music—spun by DJ Irie—will fill the room as Equionx ambassadors Kay Kay Clivio, Gab Cohen, and Steven Herbst lead a yoga class.

This is where the largest ever iteration of OM THIS WAY will take place, in celebration of Art Basel Miami, which runs from December 7th through 10th. Besides delivering a cool fitness-meets-culture experience to art-seekers in town for the festival, OM THIS WAY has a deeper mission. The event series, founded by Equinox, partners with The Felix Organization. Started by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Sheila Jaffe, an Emmy-winning casting director for The Sopranos and Entourage, the organization provides opportunities and experiences to children in the foster care system.

“We found a creative way to combine hip-hop and yoga for a powerful and positive result,” says DMC. “When hip-hop was first created, it was to educate and empower each other. We want to transform the lives of these young kids.”

He’s not alone. DJ Irie’s Irie Foundation (which empowers at-risk youth via educational programs, mentorship opportunities, and more) will also benefit from funds raised by the event.

Also on the celebrity guest list is Broadway actor Donald Webber, Jr., currently in the cast of Hamilton. Webber and DMC will both perform after the yoga class at the December 6th event. “Hamilton is unbelievable to be a part of, and at the same time you still feel like you can reach a little more to grasp something new,” says Webber. “That’s why I’m really excited to go do OM THIS WAY. It’s something else I can lend my voice to and be a part of.”

Here, DMC and Webber talk more about why this event is so meaningful, plus art, yoga, and Miami.  

How did you get involved with OM THIS WAY?

DMC: “I found out I was adopted at 35 years old. It was a life-changing and dramatic revelation, but it made me what I was here to do and that was to represent a lot of those youths in the streets that are in a foster care system. They deserve every opportunity to be the person they can be, regardless of their situation. I wanted them to find out what they love, who they want to be, and to empower them. About four years ago, Equinox heard what we were doing [with The Felix Organization] and wanted to help us out. That’s how OM THIS WAY came to be. Every dime raised from Equinox goes directly to the children for school supplies and admission to camp. It’s something these kids take with them for the rest of their lives. They will have a vision, positive and productive insight. It’s creating family without having to be from the same family.” 

Donald Webber: “I was doing a performance piece at an event called The Path Fund. The song was about being a kid trying to find his way and at some point he thinks about suicide. It’s a lot of stuff happening and it coincides with Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” At the end of the performance, Sheila Jaffe, co-founder of The Felix Organization, came up to me. Daryl is a role model. I was humbled, honored, and excited.”

What are you most looking forward to at OM THIS WAY Miami?

DMC: “We will be previewing some of the art for my comic book. It will be an artistic, physical, visceral experience that will empower and touch people’s lives.”

Donald Webber: “I’m just really excited to get there and have a good time meeting folks and listening to everyone’s stories whether that be through art or spoken word.”

Do you have a favorite activity or place in Miami?

DMC: “I’ve practically seen and done it all there since the ‘80s.”

Donald Webber: “Anytime I’m in Miami it’s the beach or bust. I’m from LA and there’s a lot of clear water, but not like this. I also like staying at Fontainebleu Hotel and I love being able to eat as you go and try the street food and food trucks.”

Do you have any experience with yoga?

Donald Webber: “When I was in college I took yoga and I never thought I was any good at it. I danced all throughout high school and college but there was something about yoga I hadn’t really connected with. My teacher at the time keyed in on me because she knew it would be something that benefited me later on and I’m glad she did. Anytime I’m on as Hamilton I have to do the warm-up and I always include a little bit of yoga. I think it’s cool it’s all coming full circle. Now to be a part of a workshop leading a song during yoga is mind-blowing.”