Versa-Style Dance Company Inspires Sonoma County to Think from Many Angles
LBC works with world-class artists who believe there’s more to art than just the songs, the sculpture, the play, or the dance to please the eye and fill the soul. They believe that the world is a better place when children engage in the arts as often as possible, and then they do something about it.
Those are the artists who step off the stage to conduct a workshop with students, to mentor aspiring artists, and to collaborate with educators and community advocates. Those are the artists we seek for our Education and Community Engagement programs. Versa-Style Dance Company is one special group of artists that stepped it up for our community in 2018, and they returned last month to do it like it’s never been done here before.
Versa-Style Dance Company didn’t present just one or two extra activities. In fact, as part of the Rodney Strong Dance Series, they presented six! That’s a first at LBC, thanks to the generous support of Rodney Strong Wine Estates and the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.
Versa-Style is a dance ensemble that consists of committed and conscientious artists representing the diversity and complexity of Los Angeles. As a nonprofit, the Company was created to promote, empower and celebrate the artistry of Hip Hop and street dance culture. It is recognized for its electrifying performances and inspiring engagement activities for schools and local communities.
Last month, LBC was proud to present excerpts from Versa Style Dance Company’s stage performance of FREE-Mind FREE-Style, which explores the concept of freedom from all angles—the personal, political, physical, and spiritual. It asks questions from an evolutionary and ancestral lens and probes ways that art is infused in the fabric of who we are.
How do we experience freedom? What contains us, oppresses us, and what ultimately allows us to break free? These are the questions that Versa-Style Dance Company explored with our patrons, and instead of leaving that exploration to just the performance and post-show discussion, it spent two days here driving the conversation further – into a community dialogue, a student performance, pre-show discussions, a student master class, and a teacher exchange.
VERSA-STYLE SIX WAYS
On November 9, LBC hosted a free community dialogue, featuring Versa-Style dancers, to explore how the dance and culture of Hip Hop are infused in local historical, social, and political issues.
The next afternoon, the Company delivered to a local middle and high school audience some high-energy hip hop movement that explored the depths of improvisational dance, preceded by a pre-show discussion. Following the school show, members of the Company led a dance master class for advanced high school and college students. Finally, the Company also offered a limited number of free tickets to the public stage performance to members of LBC’s Teacher’s Night Out (TEAM) program.
“As artists, we strive to share the impact that hip hop can have with students in their own communities, how it breaks through color lines by bringing diverse people together,” said Brandon Juezan-Williams, Performance Artist and Educator and Director of Touring and Events for Versa-Style Dance Company. “A lot of the time, we rely on the practice of art to communicate the message, yet it can be even more powerful if the artists themselves tell their stories in a way that connects directly to people.”