Last Friday night, July 25, 2008, at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, CA, the Los Angeles chapter of Culture Shock presented a showcase called “A Beautiful Struggle: Every Revolution Must Have It’s Martyrs.” This showcase featured lead dance troupes of Culture Shock San Diego, RhetOracle Dance Company and Creative Planet School of The Arts. Special guest participation included Kaba Modern of MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew, Season 1.”
Through the eyes of the well talented Asian American producers of Michelle Castelo, Allison Tanaka and artistic director Miguel Gregorio, the trio was able to tie in a theme of individual lives that have been positively influenced and changed by the arts.
Watch a video of the performance
Taking cues from Ray Bradbury’s novel, “Fahrenheit 451,” the showcase is set in the year 2020 with the United States having restricted freedom of expression in arts. As a group of young adults protest the act, a few were arrested and brought to trial for breaking the law of restriction in the arts, using various forms and creative versatility from hip-hop to classical dance. Weaving the stories of four individuals whose artistic impression lands them in jail, they expound the virtues of how art expression has changed their lives for the better.
In Scene I, “Fight The Power,” Marley Roberts (Javier Orona) leads the protest against the new law banning arts and expression. Using various sound bytes from movies about empowerment, director Angie Bunch and her performers were definitely able to take the audience on their journey of protest. The dance movement also expressed the anguish, frustration and hardship that have been brought on by this new law. With the help of guest dance group, Kaba Modern from the MTV series, which was a great addition to this scene and also illustrated why they were one of the best dance crews on the MTV show.
As the show segued into Scene II, “A Troubled Mind” Tiffany Bong, was able to take her character Winnie Kwon to the forefront of the art protest. Looking back at her life, Winnie’s vision of painting came to life through the expression movement in dance. As she is joined on stage by the RhetOracle Dance Company, the expressive movements by this group brings Winnie’s self loathing to life while she stares at her own reflection in a mirror. She finally busts out of her hatred through the life on the canvas. An interesting prop used in this scene was that of a blank canvas that slowing emerged as a painting as Winnie discovers and loves herself for who she is.
Scene III, “Let The Music Awaken You,” performed by the Creative Planet School of the Arts was a great element to include into this showcase. With its fairy tale look and props, the younger crowd in the audience was able to connect with “A Beautiful Struggle.” My niece definitely loved how it illustrated a young girl’s bedroom and the happiness she originally had before her artistic expression was suffocated. As the scene ended, it surely was a “Beautiful Struggle” for vocal soloist Kennedy Holmes. Miss Holmes held her notes throughout her performance but the higher notes would have been better left at home.
As the show moved on the last three scenes, dancers Gene Ringpis who played Don Fresco and Javier Orona were able to hype the crowd with their acting and dancing abilities. I have to give it up to Javier for his fast-talking, poetic spewing reasons why art is so important. He brought the whole reason of why there should be a revolution against the law of restricted expression in the year 2020.
One interesting fact, Javier’s character’s name is Marley Roberts. It seems like a play on Bob Marley’s name.
Much kudos to the cast and crew of “A Beautiful Struggle: Every Revolution Must Have A Martyr.” Bringing so many different elements and dance crews was a definite struggle. It’s a definite must see that can be a great for a family night.