Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Funky City: Los Angeles - Fusion, Part 1

Continuing our series for this Thanksgiving Week, we're focusing on the culture of fusion that happens regularly in our city of Los Angeles and surrounding communities. Fusion is the clash and melding of different styles and ideas to create a new hybrid. As a large spread-out metropolis, Los Angeles hosts many tribes of ideologies and artistic minds who are bound to meet each other and exchange at some point. For street dancers, we fuse with dancers from around the world as well as with music artists, fashion designers, and spoken word poets. Fusion is exciting and rife with many possibilities. (Photo above is from a Getty Images archive.)

Perhaps it's the presence of the entertainment and music industries that help foster this fusion movement. Hollywood and recording companies are always present as career venues for aspiring professional dancers. With this epicenter in place, the culture of entertainment and performing arts naturally springs up around Los Angeles. The arts become part of our daily vocabulary and climate. How often do we see movie posters and ads at bus stops and billboards? LA Weekly is constantly promoting all kinds of shows, concerts, and performances throughout greater Los Angeles. There is rarely a weekend that passes when there's nothing going on in the cultural life of the city. As dancers, we're drawn into that cultural conversation that inspires us to perform, train, and collaborate. Fashion designers approach dancers to perform on runaways as live entertainment. Music artists want dancers to enhance their music videos whether they premiere on MTV or Youtube. And cutting edge experimental artists want to fuse dance into their installation pieces as a new means of expression through the human body. Fusion happens on a regular basis because we naturally want to find new ways to express our passions. Why not express them by collaborating with someone of a different perspective?

Demographically, Los Angeles also hosts thousands of nationalities spread out over its neighborhoods. Just look at the wealth of diverse cuisines that you can find across our city. Many nations around the world are flavorfully represented by local chefs. And there's more than a few fusion restaurants that are cooking up new hybrid dishes. Many of us also claim mixed backgrounds in our ethnicities as well as cultural identities. So fusion is also found in other areas of our lives, which only help to create the climate for change. We love this and are so thankful for the artistic mesh that is burgeoning in Los Angeles. The intersecting lines of our ever-present freeway systems are a visual reminder of this culture. We're moving fast and coming in contact with each other at high frequencies. For street dancers, we continually interact with dancers visiting from other countries. They flock to Los Angeles to train, to compete, and to build professional connections with others. Los Angeles remains a strong focal point to learn about what's new and cutting edge in street styles and fashion.

Finally, fusion is a natural evolution for where our society is heading. In the 2008 elections, much discussion was made about then presidential candidate Barack Obama and his richly diverse influences. To a young generation, he represented a new wave of hybrid optimism. We want to change and to bring change to our lives. There's something ingrained in our souls to hope for more than what we see. It's not necessarily ungratefulness. It's more of a realization that we don't live in a perfect world. Things around us aren't the best they could be. And we want to change that. The same can be said for our dance. We want to improve and train. We want to make our own contribution to the ongoing street dance culture. So with bboys, bgirls, poppers, and lockers; we experiment with fusing different styles, music, and ideas to create. During this holiday season, we're thankful that this pioneering, experimental spirit still exists in and around us.

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