Versa-Style Dance Company and Culture Shock Los Angeles will perform on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.
At 6 p.m., a free hip-hop festival will be held outside the theater on the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza, featuring 50 youth dancers, food trucks and Japanese tea.
Two of L.A.’s most high-powered and ethnically diverse hip-hop dance squads break color lines and expand our understanding and definition of hip-hop. Jackie Lopez (Miss Funk) and Leigh Foaad (Breeze-Lee) of Versa-Style Dance Company and Beau Fournier and David Lee of Culture Shock Los Angeles lead these superbly synchronized, disciplined, and visionary groups. The grit of street dance morphs into a whole new vision for hip-hop as these companies draw upon dance theater, socially conscious themes, taiko drumming, vintage soul, Latin rhythms, and more.
Driven by a desire to cultivate dignity and respect for all people, both companies present fully staged theatrical works that not only showcase their enormous talent but also inspire.
Versa-Style’s “Box of Hope” brings haunting relevance to the Greek myth of Pandora’s box. The language of hip-hop brings into focus conflicts we face at this difficult time in history. In seeking an answer, Lopez says, “Hope is one of the most important things we have in this life.”
Culture Shock L.A.’s performance “4 All People: A Tale of 4 Brothers” tells a folktale using four unique styles of hip-hop. With creative and artistic direction by Fournier, Lee, Charles Nguyen, and Darren Wong, this is a tale of human weakness and conflict where the crews of each brother “battle” in the languages of breaking, locking, popping, and more.
Visit the groups’ websites: http://cultureshockla.org and http://versastyledance.org. To read an interview with Culture Shock L.A.’s executive director, Allison Tanaka, and company director, Sonia Park, visit www.jaccc.org/jaccc-blog/2017/2/2/catching-up-with-culture-shock-la.
Tickets are $15, $25 and $35. For more information, call (213) 680-3700 or visit www.jaccc.org.
This is the premiere event of the Aratani World Series’ 2017 season. Upcoming: African Guitar Summit (March 11), “Return to Myanmar” with Kyaw Kyaw Naing (April 1), “Dance India! Four Visions” (April 15), and Cambalache (June 3). Info: www.festivalofsacredmusic.org