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LA street dance culture comes to the Ford Theatre

Photo by George Simian

Photo by George Simian

Jackie Lopez remembers when she fell in love with hip-hop.  Growing up in Echo Park, Jackie spent many hours at MacArthur Park listening to this new phenomena.  The “beat” caught her attention, then the lyrics and she has been in love ever since.  Her love of hip-hop expanded to include earning a degree in dance from UCLA and a founding a thriving nonprofit, the Versa-Style Dance Company, that teaches dance to underprivileged youth from around Los Angeles County.  Her companies play, Box of Hope, opens this Saturday at the Ford Theatre as part of their Summer Series.

Jackie was introduced to dance at a young age.  She attended classes and studied under Rennie Harris.  Harris would serve as her mentor, giving her a strong foundation in technique.

Jackie counts hip-hop artists KRS-One and Tupac as favorites for lyrical content and poetic styles.

Jackie found hip-hop bridged the Latino and African-American cultures through storytelling over a rhythmic beat.  The other kids in MacArthur Park were of both cultures and the music brought them together.

Box of Hope incorporates music with political oriented themes.  Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues”, Stevie Wonder’s “As” and the Temptations “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” are included in the performance.

Jackie has enjoyed the amazing opportunities she found through dancing.  Graduating Summa Cum Laude from UCLA in 2004 from the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, with a concentration in dance, Jackie was thrilled to begin her career as a professional dancer.  Jackie has great pride in being the first in her family to graduate from a university.

For the last 18 years, Jackie has been working as a professional dancer, choreographer, teaching artist and cultural educator.  She has worked with students and artists of all ages from Los Angeles, New York, Israel, France and Colombia.  She currently is Adjunct Lecturer in UCLA’s dance department where she teaches hip-hop dance, and she is the director of the UCLA Summer Dance/Performing Arts Intensive for high school students.

Jackie is very excited that she helps bring more diversity to UCLA’s world arts department.  With the limited opportunities available to inner city youth,  Jackie is eager to increase the number of minorities in the.department.

“I am proud to have evolved into not only being a professor at my alma mater but also serving on the admissions committee to increase equity,” said Lopez.

Photo by George Simian

Co-artistic directors Leigh Foaad and Jackie Lopez Photos courtesy of Versa-Style

“I take great pride in seeing applicants from my community applying for UCLA,” said Lopez.

Box of Hope takes its title from a little red box used by Versa-Style co-artistic director Leigh Foaad as a prop for a solo dance piece.  Foaad is also an Adjunct Professor in the UCLA world arts department.

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‘Box of Hope’ features principle dancers Allison Gray, Harry Weston, Ernesto Galarza, Jackie Oka, Brandon J. Williams, Anthony Berry and Alex Almaraz, and core dancers Cynthia Hernandez, Joey Velasquez, Sandy Vazquez and Gbari Gilliam. Choreography is by Jackie Lopez and Leigh Foaad; lighting design is by Daniel Tator; and the dramaturg is Kevin Kane.

The Ford is located at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA 90068, just off the 101 Hollywood Freeway between Hollywood and Universal Studios in the Cahuenga Pass. The grounds open two hours before show time for picnicking. The Ford offers a number of dining options: a variety of food and beverages is available on site. Patrons are also welcome to bring their own food and drink. The Ford is disabled accessible. Portable wireless listening devices are available upon request.

Box of Hope’ takes place on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets (reserved seating) are $30 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under. VIP tickets, which include premium seating, a gift bag and a signed poster, are available for $50. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to FordTheatres.org or call 323 461-3673 (for non-visual media 323-GO-1-FORD). To learn about discounts for groups of 10 or more, please visit FordTheatres.org.

Box of Hope

Versa-Style Dance Company will present a multidisciplinary exploration of the social and political climate of today through LA street dance culture, spoken word and live music. By choosing to perform to Motown music, in addition to hip-hop and R&B, this 15-member ensemble made up of dancers from all over LA, will fuse vintage sounds with contemporary hip-hop moves.



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