My first time working with Culture Shock Los Angeles was 2 years ago, when Maker Empire performed in their (our) annual Benefit Show.
I wrote about the experience here:
I fell in love with CSLA during our very first joint rehearsal. Every single company member introduced themselves to me, several swatting my handshake away in place of a giant bear hug.
They were like the cool kids in high school whose lunch table you'd daydream of sitting at. Then one fateful day, someone waves for you to come on over, and instantly they're sharing hot cheetos with you like you'd been homies for years.
Less then 4 months after the 2015 benefit show, I auditioned for the team.
And my idols became my family.
This past weekend, my family and I revisited that same show – 4 All People: Tale of the 4 Brothers to kick off the Aratani World Series at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) in Little Tokyo.
#Rensta #Repost: @cultureshockla via @renstapp ··· “ And Saturday night was a success! Thank you to the @arataniworldseries for having us showcase again our message of "4 All People" on your #ArataniTheatre and stage! We had an amazing time performing but more important getting our message out there. Also thank you to #mischiefmakers for once again dancing with us, @kyodotaiko for your powerful taiko performance, Jon Jon for your haunting spoken word, and @thetamlyntomita for being our awesome narrator. We couldn't have done this without you guys! #arataniworldseries #4allpeople #4brothers #cultureshockla #jaccc #losangeles #LA #kyodotaiko #tamlyntomita #littletokyo ”
This time, we were joined by Narrator Tamlyn Tomita (yes, Tamlyn from Joy Luck Club and Karate Kid 2! – she is also one of Culture Shock LA's board members) and again by Serpent of Sin (and spoken word poet) Jon Asperin.
Air Clan was, this time, was performed by a smaller cast of Mischief Makers (led by CSLA Creative Director and Maker Empire founder/director Beau Fournier).
My girl Diana Schoenfield played the most breathtaking Mother Earth I'd eva seen.
The choreography, and staging was re-vamped – with the artistic direction of David Lee, Beau, Diana, Saaya Anzai, Justin Santiago, Ken Matsutsuru, Leo Matsuyama, Fred Mayor, April Rodriguez, and Noah Henderson.
An original piano score covering Mapei's "Don't Wait" was created by Ryanimay Conferido, a beloved friend of mine and CSLA's. UCLA's Taiko set the mood for the "fight scene" with their powerful beats.
And the script was re-written by yours truly 😘
There's no better way I could've imagined kicking off the season with the 16-17 CSLA cast than this show.
It was so refreshing to perform for an audience that's not necessarily from "the dance community" – but one that appreciates art, movement, and the stories we tell using them.
In fact, the message that 4 All People delivers is both universal and more relevant now than ever.
When the world seems out of control and it's tempting to paint differences as enemies, it's crucial to stay attune to the thing that binds us together – loooove, love, love.
HUGE thank you to the JACCC staff for having Culture Shock Los Angeles in your home, and shoutout to Versa-Style for delivering an amazing show that night as well!
And thank you to all those who came to watch or have supported CSLA throughout the process 💖