One of Los Angeles’ leading dance companies is celebrating its 15th Anniversary next week, Monday, May 18 through Sunday, May 24, 2020, in the middle of the global pandemic. That company is the truly inspirational and innovative Versa-Style Dance Company, a community based ensemble led by Co-Founders Jackie Lopez, aka Miss Funk, and Leigh Foaad, aka Breeze-lee, who over the years have convinced any disbelievers in their audiences that Hip-Hop is a strong and necessary art form. The styles of Hip-Hop that Lopez and Foaad so beautifully blend together into works like the highly acclaimed evening-length piece Box of Hope include 90s Hip-Hop, House, Popping, Locking, Whacking and Boogaloo, and Afro- Latin styles such as Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia and Afro-Cuban. In addition to creating amazing works, Versa-Style has spent the last fifteen years building a sense of community through youth development and strategic partnerships.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak brought the world to a standstill, the company had planned a week long festival of performances, battles, workshops, classes, and panel discussions with such Hip Hop dance pioneers such as Rennie Harris, Popin Pete, and Buddha Stretch .  Artists and companies throughout the country and around the world have met this challenge head-on by creating online classes and performances via Zoom, Instagram, and Facebook livestreaming. Versa-Style was one such company that is turning to technology in order to continue their creative process, keep dancers working and to help raise the necessary funds to continue.

Versa-Style is also facing financial difficulties, but as Principal Dancer and Partnerships Manager Harry Weston phrased it in an email to LADC, “…we felt that we had to celebrate our 15th birthday anyway!” The celebrations include hosting Versa-Style Alumni interviews, dance classes with the company’s Principal dancers, and more. The company is also currently producing a new online work with the Department of Cultural Affairs titled, Playground Samba, that is described as “a House Dance exploration of creativity in confinement”, exploring topics such as having fun and staying connected during this extraordinary time of social distancing and confinement.

The online work that Versa-Style is producing includes dancers investigating various spaces in their homes, outside their residences and in parks through House dance and music, all the while practicing “physical distancing”.  And, continuing the company’s involvement with the city’s youth, it will feature a short video from its junior company, Versa-Style Next Generation, that pays tribute to the late Don Campbellock. Campbellock was a native of South LA and the creator of the international dance form known as Locking. These videos are scheduled to be released in June.

Referring to the upcoming celebratory week, Weston stated the following: “The event is also a fundraiser, as the challenges of COVID-19 have hit our company hard, and we are doing our best to adapt our programming and shift our creative energy digital. At any point during next week, anyone can simply text “VS” to 243725 to support the work VSDC has passionately committed to for the last 15 years.” The company is not stopping there. Weston described how the company is creating more online content, applying for grants, and exploring other projects with a few of its presenting partners.

The week of celebration ends with the Facebook and YouTube premiere of Versa-Style Presents: OUR STORY. Tune in on Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 3:00 pm to hear about the creation of this vibrant community based, professional dance ensemble!


Here is the week schedule for Versa-Style Dance Company’s 15th Anniversary Celebration

Versa-Style Dance Comapny Online Celebration Schedul - Courtesy of the company.

If you wish to join and/or find an assortment of links for classes, discussions, parties, or other events throughout the week, click HERE.

If you you like to help support Versa-Style Dance Company by donating, please click HERE.

Here is a day by day slide show of the week of events

VS Online Celebration Day 1 VS Online Celebration Day 2 VS Online Celebration Day 3 VS Online Celebration Day 4 VS Online Celebration Day 5 VS Online Celebration Day 6 VS Online Celebration Day 7
Day 1

Here again is how to link to the Versa-Style Dance Company 15th Anniversary Online Celebration Week

If you wish to join and/or find an assortment of links for classes, discussions, parties, or other events throughout the week, click HERE.

If you you like to help support Versa-Style Dance Company by donating, please click HERE.

To learn more about Versa-Style Dance Company, click HERE.

Written by Jeff Slayton for LADC, May 16, 2020.

Featured image: Versa-Style Dance Company in Box of Hope – Photo by George Simian.