South Los Angeles is full of people who like to move, sway and bounce to the beat. In fact, many just love to dance period. Well now thanks to the efforts of a non-profit umbrella and support organization called Dance South Los Angeles (DSLA), the cornucopia of dance that happens in this region will be spotlighted during the 23rd annual African Marketplace and Cultural Faire.
DSLA, inspired by the television show “So You Think You Can Dance” has created a dance competition, Can You Dance, South L.A.? and the finalists will strut their stuff on stage during the African Marketplace.
“Dance is often envisioned as a social, cultural or entertainment avenue, and when dance is perceived in this light, it is often associated with personal enjoyment and enrichment for the wealthy, while its valuable contribution to the rest of society goes unnoticed,” said Yvonne Farrow, president of DSLA.
“The arts, more specifically dance, has a major impact on the cultural economy through tourism and economic development, education, health and other areas of interest to our community.”
The goal of Dance South Los Angeles is multi-fold, added Farrow. On one hand it is to give voice to the underserved dancers, dance companies or dance providers in South L.A. but at the same time the event will promote and celebrate dance in all its forms and cultural diversity.
Consequently, the competition is open to those following European styles, as well as African, African American, Mexican, Japanese, Pacific Islander, Korean and many more.
DSLA considers its borders Wilshire Boulevard to the north, San Pedro on the southern end, the Alameda Corridor to the east and the 405 freeway on the west.
“DSLA serves and represents over 188 dance companies, 53-plus dance resource providers, 12 colleges and universities, 200 schools, and one million recreational and professional dancers,” pointed out Farrow. “South L.A. has unlimited, untapped resources, dancers and dance providers that are passed over or have gone unnoticed while funding support is granted to a celebrated few for a host of predictable reasons This practice has resulted in the unintentional demise of many of South LA.’s most talented dancers, choreographers and potential dance companies,” Farrow said.
According to DSLA technical advisor Serge Crawford, interested individuals and groups within the organization’s boundaries can submit a two-minute DVD or video of their work along with a $10 entry fee to DSLA not later than Aug. 15 (Our Weekly must be mentioned in the application). This entry must be accompanied by a completed and signed entry and release form, which is available for download from the Web site
There will also be open auditions Aug. 23 at the African Marketplace with those selected going on to the semi-finals, and from there possibly to the finals on Aug. 30.
Entries will be reviewed by a panel of dance experts and those accepted will be placed in the appropriate dance style and category. Then they will be invited to perform before a celebrity panel of judges as well as audience members during the semi-finals at the African Marketplace.
The first place winners in the finals from each category will receive prizes that range from cash and gift certificates to merchandise.
“We’re judging on entertainment value and less on technical merit. We want to see that competitive spirit, and the more the entertainment value of the presentation, the better,” explained Crawford, who added that the event is open to dancers from age 6 to 70, because they want to be able to showcase the vast variety of performers living and working in the community.
Crawford added they are looking for everyone from Lindy hoppers to Krump dancers.
DSLA grew out of a conference hosted several years ago by the African Marketplace that examined the state of the arts in South Los Angeles. This is being followed by a series of conferences that examine specific art forms. The dance conference was held this February at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Crawford said it featured the pioneers of dance awards and honored legendary dancer and Jefferson High School graduate Carmen DeLavallade.
DeLavallade is just one of a number of noted dance legends who came out of South Los Angeles. Others include Alvin Ailey and Janet Collins, (DeLavallade’s cousin), who was the first African American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
The idea say DSLA officials is to nurture the art form so that others can follow.
People interested in participating, should send or deliver their entry to the DSLA headquarters at 3347 W. 43rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90008. For additional information, visit Web site or call (626) 690-1060.