This Saturday, Culture Shock LA celebrates its 20th anniversary with a showcase, bringing together some of the best dancers from all over California. This night is going to be filled with hip hop and fun for the entire family, with guest artists including The Kinjaz, Maker Empire, Breed, Soul Fresh, The Company, Culture Shock San Diego, Versa-Style Dance, CSLA Alumni, Establish Your Empire (Gigi Torres), and KM Legacy. There will also be special appearances by celebrities, including Tamlyn Tomita, members of Poreotics, and other ABDC favorites such as Kaba Modern, Quest Crew, and Mos Wanted Crew. The proceeds from the performance will support CSLA’s dance education programs at KIPP Iluminar Academy in East LA as well as adaptive dance classes for special needs students in Long Beach. A night filled with talent in the community for a great cause; what more can you ask for?

All of this information can be found on the flyer, but we wanted to get an inside feel for the event and get to know Culture Shock LA a little more personally, and between rehearsals, we managed to talk to Allison Tanaka of CSLA. We asked how it started, about the talent performing this weekend, and what’ll make the showcase exciting – will it shock us… culturally?

Allison explained that all of the performing groups have had something to do with Culture Shock in the past or present, whether they’ve collaborated with CSLA, directors have come in to be a part of the company, or directors have come in and volunteered. Everyone in the show is somehow related to the family, and it makes the anniversary showcase feel like a family gathering rather than an event for raising awareness for a social cause.

On the idea of social cause, Culture Shock LA started the KIPP charter school program just last year in East LA. The school started with a kindergarten and first grade class, and because the school is new, they add a grade level each year. CSLA is at the school Monday through Thursday for full time dance education, and they are already becoming part of the building blocks to the school as it grows. KIPP is unable to give CSLA half of what it costs to run the program, but it’s something they really believe in, making sure that the kids get the arts education that they need.

Aside from the KIPP Iluminar Academy, a member of Culture Shock started a dance education and therapy program in Long Beach for children with special needs, and they truly believe in the necessity of dance therapy programs. Dance education in itself is something Culture Shock feels strongly towards, as well as towards their ties to the dance community. It’s rewarding introducing non-dancers to hip hop dance, for the fun and family friendly side is often overlooked. It is even more rewarding working with the kids and eventually watching them grow up and join the company – there’s so much progression in the new generations of the Shock family, and the alumni is alive and growing.

Regarding the event’s origins, the showcase was started when a director’s brother was killed in a liquor store robbery. At the time, the team wanted to help, and came up with the idea to throw a fundraiser to raise money for burial costs. About two months later, they threw together a showcase for the family. They came together after the first year and realized that the showcase was a wonderful idea – SO LET’S DO IT EVERY YEAR! With the start of this new tradition, they made sure that the showcase was not just a talent show of dancers, but was about something and had a cause.

What is the most rewarding thing about being on Culture Shock, or Culture Shock in general? 

You know, it’s really just… family. I feel like so many of us dancers go through ups and downs in our lives, and it’s especially just been cool for me because I’ve been on the team for so long, and I’ve actually seen dancers go through their ups and downs. The team has been there to support me through a lot of difficult times in my life, and I feel like that’s how we give back to each other. We know when we come into rehearsal… that everyone’s got each others’ backs. We’re very close knit, and we know each other beyond dance. It’s not just like we come into rehearsal and dance and that’s it – we’re really a dance family and we all look out for each other. If anyone’s hurting, everyone’s hurting.

I’M GOING TO CRY. No! 

*small chuckle*

It’s more than just a dance company; it’s a family. 

 

Have you attended a CSLA showcase before? What were some memorable moments from the show you went to? Leave a comment to share with us below!

Speaking of community, don’t forget that ORG Workshop registrations are starting up soon for workshops in August! Check out the background of ORG here