Versa-Style Dance Company's BOX OF HOPE Set for The Broad Stage

Versa-Style Dance Company's BOX OF HOPE Set for The Broad Stage

The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica presents Los Angeles' own Versa-Style Dance Company on Saturday, September 23 at 7:30pm.

Versa-Style expands the boundaries of traditional Hip-Hop dance by using 90s Hip-Hop, House, Popping, Locking, Whacking and Boogaloo, and Afro-Latin styles such as Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Afro-Cuban. With these various dance forms, Versa-Style joyously portrays Los Angeles urban life - exploring its individual members' experiences and struggles.

In Box of Hope, which had its World Premiere at the Ford Theatres in 2016, Versa-Style utilizes Hip-hop dance to navigate and tell these stories as each company member lives, expresses, and struggles within these varied and infinitely complex political and personal landscapes that is what living Los Angeles - especially in underserved communities -- is about.

These themes are danced to the sounds of Motown: Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations. While these artists sang about these issues in the 1970s. Versa-Style illuminates the timeless nature of this struggle through dance created to their music. The work, Box of Hope, creates new language to give voice and a platform to an urban demographic, and uplifts, inspires and leaves the audience with a sense of hope for the future.

A recent features in the Los Angeles Daily News explains, "Box of Hope takes its title from a little red box used by co-founder and co-artistic director Leigh Foaad as a prop for his solo dance showcase. After presenting it a few times, he and Lopez developed the box idea into a full-scale theatrical production."

Versa-Style Dance Company is committed and conscientious artists representing the diversity and beautiful complexity of Los Angeles. The company creates highly energetic work that fuses dances that are culturally significant to our community. Leigh Fooad, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, said, "Our work lets us open up the doors and really dive deep into what's going on in society and culture, and how we can bring our art of Hip-Hop street dance to the theater stage and present a message."

Jackie Lopez, the other Versa-Style co-founder, explains the power she experiences during her classes, "When I'm teaching class, I'm able to see the most diverse demographic of people participating. From age two to age 50 or 60. From black, white, Asian, you name it! But the thing that brings us together is this music and this heartbeat that makes us nod our head all at the same time, and we're all one."

The Broad Stage director Jane Deknatel said, "We are proud to present Versa-Style dance this season. Dance critics have been writing about them for some time, wondering when they were going to explode onto main stages everywhere. The time is now. Their work, while exploring the complexities of Los Angeles life, bursts with heart and hope. Do join us for an energetic and inspiring night."

As a reaction to the widespread media misrepresentation of these dance forms, Versa-Style specifically aims to perform and instill the roots, history, and social and political issues surrounding the art of our generation. LA Weekly calls Versa-Style, "An eclectic, high-energy ensemble that reflects the rainbow diversity of L.A.'s population."

Jackie Lopez (AKA Miss Funk) and Leigh Foaad (AKA Breeze-lee) are the Founders and Artistic Directors of Versa-Style Dance Company. Their common passion for honoring both Hip-Hop dance and Los Angeles artistic culture resulted in the creation of Versa Style in 2005. Lopez and Foaad also serve as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. through the Arts Envoy Cultural Exchange Program in which they were able to perform, teach and lecture in countries such as Israel, Egypt, India and Colombia. They have also been guest choreographers for Santa Monica College, LA Valley College, Columbia College and University of Utah. Currently, they are both Adjunct Lecturers for UCLA's World Arts and Cultures/Dance Dept.

In addition to regular performances, Versa-Style visits LAUSD schools to perform choreography, demonstrate foundation and unfold the history of Hip-Hop with live lecture demonstrations and audience motivation. The goal is for students to gain a new perspective on Hip-Hop dance culture and the impact the arts can have in their local communities. "When Versa-Style shares their work with student audiences, they also share a message of hard work, pride in your community, dedication to an art form, and the value of education," (Theresa Willis Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA).


Versa-Style Dance Company

On Saturday, September 23 at 7:30pm

At The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, 1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401.
Parking is free.

Ticket Prices start at $35 (Prices subject to change).
Phone: Box Office at 310.434.3200
In Person: Box office at 1310 11th St. Santa Monica CA 90401 beginning three hours prior to performance.

Photo Credit: George Simian

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