An uplifting, rhythmical family consisting of all ages, orientations and ethnicities who outpour so much love and support for each other welcomed me with arms and moonwalked me into their festivities Sunday at the Mesa Dance Festival.
The Orange Coast College festival, designed to bring the community and OCC’s Dance department together to experience an entire day of hip-hop activities, included workshops, competitions and showcases.
Attendees were given three hip-hop influenced dance workshops by Kevin Pascua, Rony Jacques and David Slaney II throughout the day.
As a woman who is obsessed with the stage and whose background is in dance, I was ecstatic to attend the workshops. I had to remind myself I was there to report, not dance.
Pascua, a former B-boy and freestyler with teams and companies such as Maker Empire and KABA kids, brought a refreshing style of teaching.
Rather than thoroughly breaking each step down he emphasized finding your own rhythm and style.
Jacques and Slaney took the old school route and really narrowed in on the details. However, Slaney taught the style used more in touring choreography and Jacques gave great pointers that can be used in battle — a dance battle that is.
I could see the excitement and eagerness of each student there, branching out, having fun and being confident enough to stray from the set routine and show what they had.
After the three workshops, attendees were directed to the dance battle registration, where anyone could compete. The competition was intense as the audience was invited on the stage to be up close to the dancers, which created an intimate setting.
The battle consisted of 18 dancers breaking against each other one on one. I was pleasantly surprised at the talent and a few of the younger dancers’ ability to do tricks.
A few familiar faces from the workshops were front and center owning the stage.
The event ended with different crews showing up ready to compete with dances.
I was shocked at the range of crews performing including UCLA’s NSU Modern which brought the heat, and Knowledge Breaking Dance Crew dedicated to helping kids develop and grow, not only as dancers, but as individuals following the discipline that breakdancing has to offer.